Excellence in All Things (Without Guilt)
by Charlotte Siems
Something new shows up in our life. We get excited about a new project or a certain part of our life. We pour ourselves into that volunteer position at church, or exhaust ourselves with a co-op class, while the laundry piles up and the younger children need an earlier bedtime. We decide that we are going to do an excellent job at this thing, come what may.
The problem is that slacking off in one area of life will soon affect the other areas, even the areas that we’re focusing on. There’s no such thing as a glass partition that sections off an area of your life. You live your life all together, no matter where you live parts of it or what you’re doing.
So it doesn’t work (for long) to think that you will be excellent in your work (and that work might be homeschooling) and it won’t matter if your house is a pit. It’s not true that you can ignore your husband’s needs and put off your children indefinitely and it will all turn out all right.
Your first reaction might be “So I have to be perfect in every area of my life?” or “I have so much to do, there’s no way I can keep up with all of it perfectly!” Breathe. Those are sweeping generalizations. The P word was not mentioned.
It’s just that a general attitude of picking and choosing in which areas of your life you will do your best is shaky ground.
We all like to do the things that are more fun or that feed our ego. There were times in earlier years of homeschooling that we did projects or activities because they made ME look good. Ouch. Meanwhile, the housework or my marriage fended for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong. The nature of life is that we WILL move in and out of giving more focus to an area.
When school is starting, you’re shopping for bargains on supplies, checking your lists and getting everything ready. Once school starts, you move on to something else. When you have out-of-town company coming, you do some deep cleaning above the normal maintenance. When they leave, it’s back to the usual routine.
It’s just that it’s too easy to give ourselves permission to check out of an area of life that is not our favorite. We might stay diligent and organized with a new online Bible study we love, while never quite getting around to keeping our bedroom tidy.
Tell yourself the truth about areas of your life that you are avoiding or neglecting. Shining a light on dark places removes the fear. You feel bad about those areas anyway. Now that you’re facing them, make a practical plan to make progress. Even fifteen minutes with a timer can make a difference in any area of your life.
No one is asking you to be perfect in every area, at all times. Just beware of going for excellence in your favorite, select areas, only to neglect or ignore relationships or other key priorities in your life.
Nobody is great at everything and that’s okay. Just take care not to avoid your basic responsibilities in the name of excellence somewhere else. Often the only thing standing between a good job and a get-by job is our attitude.
The good news is that seeking to do your best in all areas of your life will shore up your weak areas and strengthen your best areas. Doing better in areas where you were slacking will help rid you of those underlying feelings of guilt and overwhelm. You’ll have a sense of wellbeing and accomplishment—and your bed will get made.