Here’s a third way to face the New Year desire for perfection:

Along with understanding God’s unconditional love and grace, I also began to see how I had unrealistic expectations. My perfectionistic perspective made me think I could do more than I could and that others should perform perfectly to meet my needs.

I’ll never forget the day I talked with my neighbor Pat and she mentioned how she washed her sheets every two weeks, sometimes even three! I was shocked. I felt pressured to wash ours every week—because that is the way I’d been trained as a child. Somehow it seemed like the world would end if I didn’t wash them that often. But Pat’s comment helped me see that the world wouldn’t end and I could relieve some of my stress.

I also realized that Darcy and Larry couldn’t meet my unrealistic needs to make me happy. I thought Darcy should obey me so that I wouldn’t be unhappy. When Darcy disobeyed, I believed she was doing it on purpose to communicate what a terrible mother I was. And when Larry valued working many hours rather than helping me with the children and paying attention to me, I concluded he didn’t care about me anymore.

In time, I began to see that I could choose God’s joy whether or not the people around me acted the way I thought they should. They didn’t hold the key to my happiness, God did. I released Darcy and Larry from my unrealistic expectations by forgiving them for being imperfect. As a result, I could discipline Darcy with more patience, and in time, Larry was drawn closer to me because I was no longer always nagging him. My perfectionism was diminishing!