Tuesday, March 22, 2011


A few weeks ago, I had to complete a professional profile on myself called a DISC test.  Today, we got the results of the test and while some of the things it said about me made me uncomfortable, most of them were true.  In many things, I am a perfectionist.  I don't like to sign my name to something into which I have not put serious effort.  I don't like to take responsibility for something that was someone else's idea, especially when it's something I didn't believe in from the start.  I am hard on others and hold them to a high standard, even though I don't always let on about it, but I'm even harder on myself.

The problem with being a perfectionist, as the profile folks see it, is that if you spend too much time trying to make something or someone perfect, time passes  by and things don't get done.  Frustration sets in and you could wind up with a mess.

There is a scene in the adorable sixties film The Trouble With Angels where Rachel spends hours trying to make a cocktail dress to enter in a sewing contest.  The harder she works at it, the more of a disaster the dress becomes.  Enter Reverend Mother.  After a few words of astonishment that something could turn out so badly, she takes over and spends the next few hours, at the expense of her sleep, to confect a gorgeous concoction of tulle and silk.

The Lord works much like Reverend Mother, without the words of astonishment at how badly we mangle things.  If we waited until we were perfect to offer ourselves to Him,  we would have nothing to give Him.  Like Rosalind Russell in the movie, He says "Show Me what you did, show Me what you have" and He takes our mangled selves and makes of us a more fitting offering to His Father.

There is some advantage to be gained by making a muck of things.  When you're ashamed of yourself, you tend to have the kind of humility fitting for being in the Presence of the Lord.  Sometimes I think it's why He permits us to get into trouble just as we thing we're gaining in holiness.  Lest we get ahead of ourselves, our little transgressions nip us by the shirt collar and pull as backward as if to say "ah ah ah, not so fast!"

To be sure, it's hard work striving for holiness.  But it was never meant to be easy.  When I make an honest accounting of my sins, my first reaction is to want to recoil and say "Well, I'm not really THAT bad."  No, I  really am, and I can and must do better, much better.

St. Therese did not want to be a saint by halves.  Neither do I.


  1. I can't tell you how much I have always lived this movie. There are so many great moments. I love the scene with the elderly woman who has no one at Christmas. Can you imagine a movie like this being made today? God is just as you say. He mends the tattered pieces of our lives and he mends our broken hearts and he wants us to help Him. Having struggled with perfectionism and pride all my life, I now understand, that He uses our weaknessed to keep us close to Him, and , to remind us, "without Me you can do nothing.

  2. Maria, I love that scene as well, when Mother sends her upstairs to freshen up. And the scene where Mother weeps at Sister Liguori's casket. I found the movie in Best Buys for $10 last year and it was the best buy I ever made! Such a classic and no, I can't imagine a movie like it being made today. Thanks for commenting

  3. For everyday work life my college Econ teacher had a phrase I will always remember, Good Enough is Best. So, like the dress, why spend 10 hours making perfectly straight stitched seams when it won't make the garment any stronger or better and no one will ever see it. It may seem like you are giving up quality in your work but you are really just making more time to get other things done and when you're used to it, it's much less stressful.

    I love that movie too. We're trying to accumulate some good old movies.

  4. Years ago my boys pediatrician told me when I was stressing over the right food, the right nursing schedule etc, etc., If you expect perfection...you get nothing. This is a struggle for me too. Love that movie..Sweet memories of a more innocent time.

  5. Yep, I think the old adage is perfection is the enemy of the good. It takes wisdom to know when to stop perfecting, but it also takes wisdom to know when not to stop. Fine balance.

  6. I didn't know whether I was a perfectionist or not, so I just did an online test. Here is my result...

    62/100 According to this test, you appear to have a mixture of both healthy and unhealthy perfectionistic tendencies. In some cases, you demand perfection of yourself or others by setting the bar unreasonably high. In other cases however, you set goals that are not as challenging and are more tolerant of failure. Your attitude likely depends on the type of task involved and the circumstances you are in.

  7. I know I am a perfectionist to a fault. Pride gets in the way. I would be interested in taking this test. Shadowlands~what website were you on for the test?


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