About the Author

Mary is a writer and speaker who lives for good books, spicy queso, and television marathons – but lives because of God’s grace. She writes about giving up on perfect and finding truth in unexpected places at MaryCarver.com. Mary and her husband live in Kansas City with their two daughters.

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  1. Beautiful post Mary – I can so very much relate!! It is so hard to give up the need to be perfect and accept that we are beautiful, imperfect people that thankfully have grace to cover those imperfect places!

  2. I have those moments all the time. Most of the time I have them when I’m directly in the middle of basking in my own rightness (yes, I believe I made up a word).

  3. I used to be that way. Oh how I was frustrated with myself when things weren’t perfect or work out perfectly. But, I learned that I have to offer myself grace. It wasn’t an easy thing to learn, but a patient Father taught me that if He the perfect one can offer me forgiveness, then I MUST do the same for myself. It still hard sometimes, but then I reflect on the lesson He taught me and it becomes a little bit easier.

  4. I find that if Im not willing to change God will place me in the middle of my own personal crisis! Then there’s no way out other than making positive changes! I try to be a very transparent person. I share my woes and my short comings (maybe too much) often. That then allows me to share the grace offered by my sweet Savior!

  5. Yes – this is me – struggling with the recovery after God performs heart surgery. One particular struggle I have is how much to show my kids what my struggles are and how God is dealing with me, changing me….from the inside out…..and how much to keep it private. We are all works in progress though. Thank you Mary for this post!

    • Fiona, I love that word picture. “Struggling with recovery after God performs heart surgery” is the perfect way to put it! Deciding what to share with our kids is one I hadn’t thought of yet, because my kiddo is only four, but it makes sense. I anticipate that being a thin line to walk at times.

  6. Those moments come all to often for me–especially at work. Some days at work I feel nothing can go right for me–I even ask God why am I still here–why not give me a different job where I’m happy & content?

    In the midst of all this I find Him trying to mold me & make me realize what I have & not what I don’t. Perhaps through prayer I can admit to my faults, failures & good attributes–I usually only focus on the bad ones & come to grips with trying to bloom where He has planted me!

  7. Thanks for giving me lots to think about, I can truly relate and will be keeping your wise words in my heart as I go about my day.

  8. Oh, I can so relate to your description of the struggle to mother perfectly, and of how much “easier” it is to just keep pounding through the day’s assigned music, oblivious to the melody . . . . . Thanks for the reminder to pause, to confess, to receive forgiveness, and to play with real joy.

    Blessings to you this day!

  9. Thank you for your post today. I struggle with trying to be perfect and to make my life and my kids be as I want and expect. However, much as turned out differently than I expected and hoped — not badly always, just differently. I struggle not only to accept my life and self now, but also to not blame myself for the differences and bad things. I appreciate hearing you admit that you have made mistakes, for it makes it easier to accept my own mistakes.

    • You know what I love? I love the way God so often takes our wishes and expectations and turns them on our heads by giving us something so different, yet so wonderful, that we never could have imagined. And sure, we make mistakes along the way (who doesn’t!?), but He’s using all of those things to weave His perfect story for our lives!

  10. Of course! I have them everyday. Thankfully, the people in my life understand….I need a do-over and love me in spite!
    I blogged just today about cleaning up what doesn’t belong in my life.
    It’s an every day event!

  11. Mary, thanks for your post. I fall into a similar trap, either I overlook my failings or I focus so heavily upon my failings that I become a martyr. I am not entirely sure how to keep perspective and to get out of this trap. When I focus on them too much, I lose confidence and make even more mistakes. When I don’t focus on them enough, I get overconfident and move on with my life without considering others enough. I pray everyday for help with the balance and I fall short every day. This is a big frustration for me right now. I feel like a total failure.

    Thank you for talking openly about this issue. Blessings!

    • I think you’ve nailed it, Carolyn – the only thing we can do is pray. I don’t know your circumstances or specific challenges, but I know you’re aren’t a failure. Hang in there. God made you, and He loves you, no matter what failings you see when you look in the mirror!!

  12. Oh Mary, I so much related to the example of accompanying a vocalist on the piano. I honestly think I might have skimmed right over the message of your post if you hadn’t used that analogy. As a recovering perfectionist myself, I know what it’s like to just carry on – mistakes don’t bother you, and in fact become so buried or ignored that you can pretend they never happened. Because perfectionists don’t make mistakes.
    I’m living through a season right now where I have my mistakes shoved in my face so that I can no longer ignore them and it.is.hard. I don’t want to look at them. I don’t want to respond with emotion – because that would be to admit that they are there. And changing my behavioural patterns feels like announcing to the world that I was wrong. God won’t let me off the hook this time, though. I’ll never be able to play the song correctly if I keep ignoring this.
    Thank you for your words. I needed to hear them today.

    • “Because perfectionists don’t make mistakes.” Ohhhhh, isn’t it true that we feel that way? Or is it that we believe others feel that way? I can’t speak for you, obviously, but I think that plays a part in my perfectionism. Thank you for sharing your heart; you’ve given me a lot to think about!

  13. Thank you for this! Wow, as a beautiful broken mess who is relying on Jesus to clean her up, I have realized that there were many things I just kept on going, never looking to see if things needed to be fixed. Now? I am realizing that I’m okay in my brokenness as He is using the lessons of my past to ensure I have the future He has planned out for me.

  14. I’ll never get over how much I love your honesty Mary. I love how you maintain your ‘realness’ even through a computer screen. It’s a powerful thing, my friend. You are a gift.

    Lisa-Jo

  15. […] To read the rest of this post, visit (in)courage. (And, by the way, I highly recommend reading through the comments over there, too. I used a music metaphor in the rest of my post, and some of the commenters over there had great insights using that same analogy. [Yes, I just used "metaphor" and "analogy" interchangeably. Don't judge me.]) […]

  16. as strange as it sounds, part of this post reminded me about how i deal with the death of my parents. “Don’t show emotion. Don’t try too hard to fix it. And whatever you do, don’t stop.” my mom died when i was 6 and i grew up pretending it didn’t bother me. that it didn’t matter. i guess it was a combination of wanting to fit in and not wanting to stick out. no one else had a dead mother (yes, i know that sounds harsh, but that’s how i deal with it. as if being cold makes it less painful) and i certainly didn’t want to be the only one. i just wanted to be normal. and so no emotion, no trying to fix it, and no stopping, just moving on.

    when my dad, my hero, died 11 years ago, i was an adult, and dealing with his death was something i have yet to do. because somehow the denial of it helps the pain. somehow the blocking out helps me to go on. and so i never stop long enough to think about it. really think about it. oh, i surface think. i temporarily pause. but i never stop long enough to let who i am catch up to who i prefer to be.

    “Don’t show emotion. Don’t try too hard to fix it. And whatever you do, don’t stop”.

    yeah, that’s me.

  17. Your post is enlightening, helping to reveal a need for change – thank you. I was beginning to think of myself as some sort of victim but you’ve replaced that thought (just in the nick of time) with the reminder that I do indeed have control to face situations and make changes. Perfection is not an option, but simple action certainly is. Reading over these comments here has reminded me I am not the only one feeling this way; and there’s strength in numbers. Thank you, Mary, for sharing this!

  18. YES! I can counsel my friends so easily to trust in the fact that God’s grace covers our imperfections and to know that we are imperfect and embrace who God created us to be. Then, I get off the phone and think about everything I still need to get right to be perfect.

    Thank you for these thoughts!