I’ve always been very hard on myself.
The whole idea of extending grace to others is a far easier concept for me to grasp than extending it to myself. And for years, one of the ways this manifested in my life was in a constant striving for perfection. If I do all of the ‘right’ things and make all of the ‘right’ choices then everything in my life will be ‘right’…right? 😉
Of course, even as I type out those words I realize once again how absolutely ridiculous that sounds.
Because, the reality was, there has been much in my life that hasn’t gone ‘right’ even when I thought I was making the ‘right’ choices. I’ve talked a little bit about that here and here.
Years ago, when I first began hosting special occasions in my home, I would carefully plan out every single detail and agonize if I realized I had forgotten something.
And, in the process, I drove my family crazy. You see, while I would greet the guests at the door with a big smile on my face and arms opened wide, those poor souls living here with me knew that only minutes (or even seconds!!) before, I was running around like a banshee, barking orders and freaking out if anything was out of place.
How fun for them, right? 😉
Eventually, no one really wanted to have people over. Including me. Hosting went from being less about showing others hospitality and more about showing others how ‘together’ we were. When we really weren’t!
So I prayed that God would release me from this perfectionism. This need to have everything so ‘right’.
And you know what? He did!
He helped me understand how much I was getting in my own way. And I’ve come to learn the real meaning of hospitality. And not just hospitality as it’s shown to guests but also (and maybe more importantly!) how it’s shown to those living right here in my home.
But, you know what else God helped me understand?
That being released from perfectionism didn’t mean I had to let go of some of the things that are just inherently ‘me’.
Things like enjoying setting a pretty table.
Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of times when hosting at our house simply means pizza and beer.
But, there is just something about setting a table for a holiday that feels so timeless. So traditional. And I’m definitely a traditional kind of girl.
For Easter this year though, I gave myself a break. One I probably wouldn’t have given myself all those years ago when I first began hosting holidays.
Oh sure, there was china and chargers and a linen tablecloth. We even used my husband’s grandmother’s silver which was given to us as a wedding gift.
But the centerpiece took all of 5 minutes. Fresh cherry blossoms from trees in my backyard put in simple glass vases and surrounded by battery operated candles.
And when it came time to put out the napkins I paused. Because, well, I really didn’t want to have to wash cloth napkins. I knew that at the end of that day I was going to be wiped out. And the thought of ANOTHER load of laundry was just one thing too many on this already crazy weekend.
Now the old me would have felt like I needed to just suck it up and get out those cloth napkins.
But now, well, now I know how to make the best choice for me and my family.
And now I know that vintage silver can still look beautiful on paper napkins.
Who knows? Maybe next year there will be paper plates on those gold chargers!
It’s a slippery slope folks. 😉
P.S. We’re so thrilled to welcome Decor Steals as a sponsor here At the Picket Fence! Every day there is a fabulous new deal and frankly we are having a hard time not buying every single one of them!
Hope Williams says
Good morning Vanessa. Balance. It sounds so simple and yet so hard to find. True story. I used to stand behind my first husband waiting for him to finish at the bath vanity so I could clean it. True, so sadly true!
Now, it’s my dust and I’ll clean it when I’m ready! Funny how in the process of finding balance we tend to jump over to the other side. Again, landing in the same situation.
I just turned fifty and I should not have! Im still here for the simple fact that God is good every day. God wanted me to find life and not so much balance. After surviving so much and fighting daily just to stay alive threatened more than just my existence, it almost took my ability to enjoy the simple pleasures of this life.
For me is was the laughter, a smile, hug, friends, the real essentials of a simple life. I’m learning to live again, slowly. But God gave me “right now” and “so far”. I found that “so far” is perfect! In every way. For today, life is the gift, so far….but the rest of the day is looking really good!
I pray you enough in all things for today, so far today….
I love your story! We must be twins! When everyone would say “you’re so organized!”, I always felt a little guilty. If they only knew what a wreck I was 15 minutes before they arrived! Oh well, there’s nothing wrong with paper napkins and silver. Maybe it will be a new trend! ….. or it already is and we’re just to frazzeled to notice. 🙂 Thanks for sharing!
I can so relate to your post…I LOVE having friends over for a specially-planned meal, and setting a beautiful table. I LOVE planning the meal and deciding just how to make the table beautiful, how to make my guests feel the love I have for them and how special their friendship is to me.. The problem…we are never invited to their home???? One evening, I overheard one of my guests say to another guest, “I could never do this, it’s so intimidating!” I could not believe it! I just wish they realized how much joy it brings me, that it is something I LOVE to do. Anyway, I am not going to let a little thing like that, stop me from doing what I love. 🙂 (suggestions appreciated). Oh, by the way…where did you find those lovely paper napkins???
Great story ,that was encouraging,thank you. Love the napkins they were pretty. Have a Blessed weekend.
Melanie C. says
Thank you for being so transparent and connecting with the rest of us who struggle with this exact same disease. I have finally come to a place of rest about many of the same issues. For years I thought that my worth and value in life was based on the amount of effort I put into making my home look great, my clothes fashionable or my knowledge of pop culture relevant but all of that was just a façade because inside I had never truly accepted God’s grace, mercy or appreciation for who I was. I had the head knowledge but the truth of my worth hovered teasingly over my soul like a beautiful hummingbird over a flower. So glad you are gaining freedom and perspective from the lies of perfection = happiness. Continue sharing and encouraging others. These chains can be broken! From one banshee to another.
At The Picket Fence says
LOL!! Definitely from one banshee to another. 😉 Thank you so much for your encouraging words. It’s so nice to know we aren’t alone in our struggles!
this is so timely , I am having an 80th party for my mom today…with the help of my 2 sisters. Let go of perfectionism will be my motto. Enjoy the family and have fun! Thanks, I needed that!
laura@top this top that says
i know first hand that paper plates look fabulous on any charger! 🙂 Good for you! Those napkins are really cute. I am forever buying paper products when ever I see them on clearance after a holiday. You should start too!
Sue Tait says
Oh my, Apparently I am a member of a very Large Group of BANSHEES… Hahaha… And what good company to be in!
I also have begun to figure out what is more important and what is less important, and having enough food that tastes good, and serving it in a relaxed atmosphere far outweighs having the perfect linen napkins and the best china on the table. There is nothing wrong with pretty paper plates on your holiday table. The good company and easy mood of the hostess is far more enjoyable to the guest and a lot easier on the hostess’ nerves. (Therefore more enjoyable for HER). And what is the main point of having company for dinner anyway? For them to Enjoy the evening, but ALSO for you to enjoy it with them.
I was not always this way, but have found that it is so much better for my guests that I have become more and more this way NOW…
Thank you Vanessa for sharing this. You have really hit the target with me this time!
Love your page, and all your stories…
first, where did you get those napkins?? 2nd glad you shared your story. Seems it is similar to many of us creative with perfectionism tendencies women. nothing wrong with pretty tables; everything wrong with the crazy often meaness that comes out because of the perfection quest. 3rd it can be overcome! Happy Sunday! Linda
At The Picket Fence says
Thank you so much Linda! And the napkins are from Tuesday Morning. 🙂
It takes most of us decades to figure out what you’ve figured out about hosting…I speak from personal experience. I used to be a nervous wreck…and yes, there was yelling involved too. Somewhere along the way, I discovered that a clean home, good food and a smile will overcome just about any inadequacies I thought my home had. And, I always, always use paper napkins! 😉