In Invited, I weave together personal stories with a practical party planning handbook as I share about my own struggle with perfection when I moved home and began to build community. My desire for perfection caused me to experience anxiety and meltdown when parties (and life!) didn’t always go as planned.
This book is written for women who like me, want everything to be perfect, but don’t always know how to stop breaking down when life doesn’t go according to plan. With kindness and Biblical truth, Invited helps women to overcome the hurdles of perfection by finding balance, wholeness, and completeness in Christ.
In the book you mention a study that says that 74 percent of young women feel the pressure to be perfect. I think this is something we can all relate to. Why do you feel like we put this pressure on ourselves?
I’ve discovered that many goal-oriented women who like to plan battle perfectionism. It doesn’t matter if we are planning a birthday party, who we will marry, or working toward our dream job – women want to achieve perfection because we want the best for ourselves, our people, and our futures. Perfection is passion, an ideal that makes us feel so strongly about the matters of the heart that we act in ways that make us later feel shame and unworthiness, like we will never quite measure up.
In Scripture, perfection is defined as wholeness, completeness, and beauty. When young women give their expectations to God and realize that perfection is only found in Christ, we are less disappointed, discontent, and depressed. God is perfect, so we don’t have to be. By releasing our anxieties to Him, we find beauty in our imperfections and accept His invitation of love, grace, and mercy.
Have you heard from other women after writing this book that struggle with perfectionism as well?
Yes, their stories have been so impactful to me! Many of the women who I’ve heard from have felt freedom from perfectionism and have been living by the mantra “connection, not perfection.” I think this idea of building relationships instead of having everything just right makes opening ourselves up to others and celebrating life so much easier.
Connection is about relationships and being linked with someone else. Our greatest fear is disconnection which causes us to strive for perfection in hopes that people will like us. Yet perfection usually has the opposite effect and gives the impression that we are better than others. The antidote to perfection is when we can see beauty in the imperfection. When we focus on building relationships through connection, not perfection, we are able to more fully celebrate with our people.
Connection is such an important thing, and reading your book has inspired me to have more people in my home (even when it doesn’t feel perfect). What would you say to someone who feels inadequate at hosting or thinks hospitality is not their gift?
We are often afraid to open our homes to others because we think our homes aren’t decorated nice enough or we are too busy to prepare our house for entertaining. Here’s my advice: don’t let perfection cause you to miss out on inviting friends into your home. Even if your home doesn’t look Pinterest-perfect, find a spot that makes you feel comfortable to entertain in like your kitchen or your back porch. Add some flowers and candles to make the space feel casual and inviting. Or, if you are too busy to entertain at home, invite a friend to meet you at a local restaurant. Pick a spot that has a unique menu or atmosphere and enjoy having a night out with a friend. One of the many benefits of practicing hospitality is happiness. The hostesses who enjoy entertaining the most are the ones who can let go of their worries and enjoy the party with their guests.
Reading about your experience with your daughters in the NICU really hit home for me. I also had a NICU baby and felt the shame, confusion and questioning you talk about in the book. Can you tell us about how you overcame shame and learned to dwell in God’s presence?
Having premature babies was not anything I could ever plan for or expected to happen during my pregnancy with the girls. So, when they were born early, I realized that there was literally nothing I could do about the situation except pray and show up. I couldn’t hold them, but I could love them and know that God was holding them during those critical first days of life. What helped me overcome shame was actually having a season of mourning. I had experienced a loss of carrying my twins the final weeks of pregnancy and I had to work out those feelings in order to move through that pain. One of the things that helped me dwell in God’s presence during that season of heartache was to listen to worship music, journal, and go on long, slow walks. I had to ask God for His help constantly, and He provided me comfort through the encouragement of loved ones and the promises that there was always light through the darkness.
Lastly, the cover of your book is so beautiful! I loved looking at it, and I plan on making the whipped cream pound cake for my next hosting gig. What is one of your best tips for being a good hostess?
The whipped cream pound cake is delicious! It is my husband’s grandmother’s recipe and we made it together for the cover. One of my favorite terms in the book is to be a hallelujah hostess. The term “hallelujah” means a shout of joy, praise, or gratitude. A “hallelujah hostess” practices hospitality by recognizing that her service is to God and not her own vanity. She not only celebrates her friends, but loves strangers. She gives gifts to those who will never repay her and offers her time, money, and her home to people in ministry. She is not just entertaining on a surface level, she is extending grace on a soul level.