It’s my birthday month! (Yes, that’s a thing :).) I thought to kick off this sweet month with a truth bomb that’s been on my mind for a while.
I don’t know when the idea of achieving the impossible was born, but it’s not doing anyone any favors. As someone who grew up as kind of a perfectionist who always turned in the best-looking assignments in school because I considered anything less to be mediocre, I agree that there’s always room for improvement, but this doesn’t mean one ought to practically kill oneself to achieve more… when doing enough will suffice.
Now, before you misinterpret me, I don’t mean “enough” in the mediocre sense of the word. For instance, some people are OK with handing in, say, their handwritten assignments filled with scratches where they made mistakes (which I do admit I consider mediocre), while others prefer to use whiteout so it looks neater and more presentable.
But you can see that’s a minor detail.
The notion of giving more of yourself doesn’t necessarily come from the way your assignments look or your attire. Nowadays, it’s been generally applied to bigger things, such as marriage and parenthood.
The mistaken notion of “Always More”
Take, for instance, a semi-recent movement known as “Always More,” formally launched by Audrey Roloff (of Little People, Big World “fame”; she married Jeremy Roloff).
(If you think you’ve seen her mentioned before on my blog, you’d be correct: She can’t stop preaching about a certain essential oil company that shouldn’t at all get any business but somehow it does thanks to robots like her.)
I say “formally” because all she and her husband do is repackage and sell ideas they’ve seen elsewhere.. just like with ALWAYS MORE, which comes from Ephesians 3:20:
…Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us…
Apparently Audrey would write that phrase on her arm with a sharpie before a race (she was a distance runner in high school) to remind herself to trust that God will always let her “give more of herself” even when her body told her it was tired.
I think that’s a perfectly fine–almost endearing–motive, to be honest. Giving more of yourself, when possible, to accomplish something is admirable.
The danger, however, comes when your capacity to squeeze in one more task, for example, is at the rim, and you somehow get it into your head that you must still give more of yourself. I’ll get back to that later.
Anyways, in a nutshell, “Always More” (as she’s begun to market it) mandates that the person shall strive for more, to believe in the more and achieve it, to give more of themselves no matter what.
Even Audrey’s prayer to their daughter Ember calls on that poor “my parents and stole my privacy” kid to believe in her more, find her more, discover more ways that she can be defined by God’s truth, and other honestly weird things to wish for for one’s kid.
But life isn’t always about being, giving, doing MORE because we’re humans–not superheroes. We depend on taking care of ourselves first and foremost so that we can then better take care of others.
We first need to be fine with ENOUGH
You see, God’s means for accomplishing more than we can imagine comes through His strength. His work is done by the Holy Spirit’s power within us instead of by our human strength.
While I know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13) and, can therefore, strive to do more, I’m also perfectly content with doing ENOUGH so that I can later find the More if need be.
I recently came across a post on Instagram that resonated with me so much because it illustrates this new phenomenon very well:
Some days I feel like the internet is 100 versions of “strive for greatness!” & “crush everything!” & “be all the things!” & “these are the 64863 things successful people do before dawn.”
But how about this: you don’t have to crush it or slay anything today. You don’t have to strive or wrangle or hustle or do anything violent today. You can just be a human, in a quiet & honest way, & that’s good too.
I first saw that re-posted on the feed of a sweet and talented woodworker named Lesley who’s a mom and a wife (she’s also expecting their second daughter). Lesley added that sometimes she’ll get feedback from other pregnant wives who marvel at how much she can do in a day and how put-together she always looks. She said she didn’t want to give off that perfect impression because some days she’s so beyond tired, that she’d be amazed if she even managed to get dressed and do all that she needed to do. Which is also why she’ll occasionally take days off, to recharge.
If this isn’t hitting at the absurdity of “Always More” (or perhaps at least what it’s become or how it’s been misinterpreted to mean that I must do all the things), I don’t know what would.
A 24/7 mindset of Always More is not only damaging, but it also leads to burnout, even though most people would be better off being and doing ENOUGH.
Case in point: In a recent episode of their podcast, Audrey also implied that this Always More mentality hasn’t been all that healthy to her because it only makes her think that she MUST accept every opportunity, execute every idea, and do it ALL in order to find peace. As a result, she often experiences burnouts, frustrations, and even fights with Jeremy (who’s OK with passing on some things).
ENOUGH doesn’t equate to mediocrity in most cases, so it’s ridiculous to believe that Always More is the saner of the two when God wants us to first and foremost take care of ourselves.
BE CONTENT WITH ENOUGH
But if one ever feels like doing more, then by all means, do more… Why not? After all, your Always More may be someone’s ENOUGH, and that’s why it’s important we work on satisfying our ENOUGH before our MORE.
This issue hits very close to home both literally and figuratively.
I say literally because I live in Utah, AKA PerfectMormonMommyVille, and figuratively because I’ve been facing some issues with my body that actually force me to not only do enough, but also accept that enough is great!
If you’ve ever come across mormon mommy bloggers or influencers online, you’ll find there’s always a single theme that unites them all: Perfection. (It’s sickening, almost.)
They always find a way to look glam (even in their super cheap clothes, extreme makeup, and fake eyelashes)–like they’re trying to one-up each other. Their kids also look fancy, their houses look like they belong on a decoration magazine (even if they’re all Joanna Gaines fixer upper copycats), and even their husbands–at least those vain enough who think they should pose in front of the camera–also manage to look perfect.
(Newsflash: Perfect is boring, but I digress.)
Actually, while writing that previous paragraph I had an epiphany: Maybe they all strive for earthly perfection so they can more efficiently upgrade to “god” status and gain a planet once they die? (That’s actually a mormon belief.) Like once they hit the pearly gates they’ll encounter a checklist and all the perfection they strived to attain will more easily help them get things checked off more quickly so they can then more quickly become gods and get their own planets for their families? Just a thought…The opposite of SCARCITY is ENOUGH. Seek ENOUGH. Be content and grateful with ENOUGH. Click To Tweet
Anyways, a lot of women worry too much with perfection. I know because I was like that during the first few months of our marriage and the media’s only seeming message to women all the time is “You’re not good enough.”
Even though he didn’t have anything to compare me to wife-wise, I nevertheless wanted to be my husband’s “perfect” wife and cook all the things, clean everything, help with whatever, do super well at my full-time job, be romantic, and be as ideal as I could be. (I’m old-fashioned, so what?)
But that would only lead to frustration on my part when I realized that some things gotta give and I don’t have room for being perfect in every dang facet. I didn’t have to do it all right then! Then my frustration would, in turn, frustrate him because he couldn’t understand why I was belittling myself so much when I was already doing enough for him and us. He was already happy!
Nowadays, I mainly worry about doing enough. Fortunately, men are easy to keep happy (if you don’t believe me, you’re not with the right one) so I now worry about being his “partner in crime” more than doing everything perfectly. He certainly enjoys a happy, more well-rested Annie.
Which brings me to my next subject on how else I’ve come to be OK with enough.
I’ve encountered some health issues that some days have made it difficult for me to move as much as I used to; my body has tended to get tired more quickly, which is very frustrating because as a lifelong perfectionist, I struggle with not being as “good” as before. (>> Oops, I did it again: I equated quantity [doing as much] with quality [being good] when the two aren’t related.)
Nevertheless, it’s been emphasized to me, time and time again, that I currently can’t do as much and that I need to be perfectly fine with that because the added stress never does me any good. Not to mention that exceeding my ability can also physically leave me in pain, which is another reason why doing ENOUGH has been the healthiest for me. And the best part is, I’ve been getting progressively better and my ability to go past my ENOUGH keeps increasing!
(Admittedly, sometimes I do physically strive for more, but only once I know for a fact that I have room for it.)
So to all of you worried about PERFECTION, doing more, and not trusting that enough is, well, good enough: Stop. Unless there are some serious issues, chances are your life is already good so you need to cherish the NOW and stop lamenting the WHAT IFs and the ALWAYS MOREs.Your life is good, so cherish the NOW and stop lamenting the WHAT IFs and the ALWAYS MOREs. Click To Tweet
So you cleaned the kitchen but forgot to wipe down the countertops at the end? Get over it.
So you were loving with your husband all week but didn’t do date night? Get over it.
So you were there for your kids when they got home from school every day but you forgot today’s Pizza Night and fed them tacos instead? Get over it.
Get over it all and be glad in that you were there in the first place. You were enough, you did enough, you have a good life, a good family, and are a good person. Cherish the NOW and stop lamenting the WHAT IFs and the the ALWAYS MOREs.