3 Ps: Priorities, Perfection, Procrastination in Sobriety

prioritiesI just read a post on Therese Borchard’s new blog A Blog About Hope where she talked about perfectionism. I’ve followed her over at Beyond Blue on BeliefNet and read today that she’s closing down Beyond Blue to make time for other things, including this new blog which will be a repository in a sense for all of her archives and a place to move forward.

Anyways, her post made me think about priorities because she talked about having trouble turning down requests for help. She calls it perfectionism and maybe that’s what it is for me.  But I’ve always had trouble with the word “perfectionist.”  I’m a word girl, and sometimes that is to my detriment. The root word of perfectionist is perfect; and I am unable to ascribe anything to do with the word “perfect” to myself.

But I was able to figure out that I had a problem with setting priorities.  And I guess the way this manifested in me was sort of a form of perfectionism, mixed with a little bit of procrastination.

Borchard gives a quick example of how perfectionism manifests itself in her life:

“Can you help out with the Halloween party?” “Nnn…….. okay.”

“Will you chaperone the field trip to the pumpkin patch?” “I caaa…….sure.”

“Could you organize the ‘Santa’s Run’ fire-department gig for the needy kids? “Nnnnnnn……maybe.”

I want to be the devoted mom at all the class parties. I want to be the noble citizen who contributes her time to community service. I want to say thank you to my alma mater for the four exceptional years of nurturing and education I received.

So (I noticed recently that I begin a lot of paragraphs in this blog with “so.”) my priority problem was that I had, say, ten things that were my priorities: being a good wife (this created its own sub-category of sub-priorities!), being a good mother (more sub-categories), my work, my parents, my husband’s parents, being a good friend, cooking dinner every night, keeping the house clean, keeping the laundry folded (never had trouble doing the laundry but definitely put off folding it).  Oh, and taking care of my health/physical self, that needed to be on the list too.

I had no problem figuring out what my priorities were but I couldn’t put them in the right order, or any order for that matter. I put half of them at #1 and then the other half just never got on the list.

So this was my list:

  1. wife, mother, daughter, house, cooking, laundry (but not folding)

And there was no #2, 3, 4, 5…with all these other things as “top” priorities I ran myself ragged trying to get all those things perfect.

This whack-job on setting priorities was a big source of a lot of my anxiousness, overwhelmness—see, I’m doing it again. I can’t use the word “anxiety” because saying I have anxiety means I need to ease it, which leads me back to beer.

SO. So, I made it a priority to determine the proper order of my priorities.

What would I put first? Definitely cooking and cleaning were knocked off the list and I was down to the top three.  But was this procrastination?

godfirstinfographicI finally looked to my Faith to see what God says about priorities. Naturally, I wanted to put the children first on the list. But I learned from my Faith and the Scripture that “wife” was supposed to be first. What I mean by “supposed to be” is that God gave that instruction because that’s what works best. Putting the marriage first and the children second worked best for the children!  It was a trick!

Okay, so now my list:

  1. wife
  2. mother
  3. daughter

But my brain still created all these SUB-CATEGORIES.

Finally, probably in exasperation, I turned to God in prayer.  Why am I always so frazzled, God? Will you help me figure this out?

Ta da! I realized through prayer that I didn’t have GOD on my priority list.  I figured He was a “given.”  And I looked again to Scripture:

The Bible told me God was supposed to be FIRST.

So I put Him first.  And oh my goodness everything else fell into place!  If I put God first (the sub-categories for God ended up being sobriety/recovery, morning prayers and holding tight to the connection with Him constantly all day) then my marriage worked better, I was a better mother, I was a better blah blah blah.

I didn’t even have to THINK about the other things anymore. I didn’t have to stress over things. When I remembered that God was first on the list—-and nothing else—then it all just worked.

Luke – Chapter 12: 22-32

Then he said to his disciples, ‘That is why I am telling you not to worry about your life and what you are to eat, nor about your body and how you are to clothe it. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Think of the ravens. They do not sow or reap; they have no storehouses and no barns; yet God feeds them. And how much more you are worth than the birds! Can any of you, however much you worry, add a single cubit to your span of life? If a very small thing is beyond your powers, why worry about the rest? Think how the flowers grow; they never have to spin or weave; yet, I assure you, not even Solomon in all his royal robes was clothed like one of them. Now if that is how God clothes a flower which is growing wild today and is thrown into the furnace tomorrow, how much more will he look after you, who have so little faith! But you must not set your hearts on things to eat and things to drink; nor must you worry. It is the gentiles of this world who set their hearts on all these things. Your Father well knows you need them. No; set your hearts on his kingdom, and these other things will be given you as well.

And Luke: 12:34 For wherever your treasure is, that is where your heart will be too.

So now my list looks like this:

  1. God
  2. Everything else

Happy Humpday everyone!  Make it a great day and remember to put God first today.

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12 thoughts on “3 Ps: Priorities, Perfection, Procrastination in Sobriety

  1. Great post! It reminds me of what a friend often tells me: “perfectionism is one of the devil’s greatest weapons. He uses it to direct our focus on the part of life that is not perfect (there will always be aspects that could be better) and thereby distract us from recognizing all that we are blessed with. The result is that we under appreciate and do not enjoy life as we should.” For me, I know that this form of perfectionism (comparing my abilities with the ideal) often leads to my procrastination—I can’t live up to standards, so why bother?
    Thanks again.

  2. I love the Screwtape reference in here. I have the audio book with John Cleese. It’s heady stuff, and deserves many revisits to mine the deeper levels. Very much like your writings.

    Cheers,
    Paul

  3. You are a very thoughtful and conscientious person seeking to always do the right thing!
    I share a lot of that trait myself and can relate to your entry near 95% …including the asking
    God …some God… inside about it. I have noticed though through abrupt upheavals in my life
    that Priorities keep changing and the task of resetting them is near never ending, lol!
    Perhaps there is some reason for it all but i am learning to be flexible and recognise immediately
    when a shift has taken place. I adjust until the next one…

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