{Jon Acuff} Bringing Dinner Back Week #12 ~ The problem with perfect

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Jon AcuffThis is the last week of the dinner challenge! I can’t believe it’s already been three months since we started looking at the reasons dinner as a family is such an important thing to do. From dealing with technology to pop culture and our kids, to finding kitchen utensils that make the most sense for you, we’ve covered a lot of ground. Today, in our final post, I want to talk about one of the biggest things that keep people from having dinner together.

What we learned: Waiting for perfect, just keeps you waiting.

One of the greatest enemies of any creative, healthy endeavor, whether it’s committing to a family dinnertime, going on a diet or writing a book is perfectionism. Before we start something new, the voice of perfectionism often chimes in and starts chattering in our ear. Here are a few things it says in regards to dinner:

“Every other family in your neighborhood has perfect family dinners and you don’t.”

“Other parents read stories and the Bible at dinner and have Norman Rockwell moments at the dinner table

“Every mom blogger you read makes five course meals, runs a photography business out of her house and always has perfectly behaved children that get straight A’s, but not you.”

“Other dads provide at least one ‘teachable’ moment at dinner every night for their children and are never too tired after a day at work to dispense wisdom as they pass the mashed potatoes.”

The words that perfectionism tells you might be different, but the goal of perfectionism is always the same. “If you can’t be perfect, don’t even start.” If you can’t have an earthshaking, life changing family dinner together every night of every week of every month, don’t even bother. Start later when life isn’t so busy.

But here’s one big thing I learned during the last 90 days doing the dinner challenge – the best time to start having dinner together is right now. And you don’t have to be perfect.

Life will always be busy. There’s not a magical period of time called “someday” where you’ll have hours and hours of free time to perfectly plan and execute a family dinner. If you wait until things are perfect to have dinner together, you never will. Days will turn into weeks, weeks into months, months into “Did we really just drop a kid off at college?” Life really does move that quickly.

I wish that I could say we went a perfect 90 for 90 during the dinner challenge, but we didn’t. We’re not a perfect family. My kids get “sassmouth” sometimes. Occasionally, I’m so empty from a big week at work that I’m “out of words,” on a Friday night and am not able to dispense the sort of wisdom you’d put on a positive thinking poster of a difficult golf shot over a cliff. But, I think that’s OK, because we’re not waiting until life is perfect to have dinner together.

We’re going to be patient. We’re going to keep coming to the table as a family. We’re going to keep making time for dinner and forgiving ourselves when we miss it. We’re going to learn and laugh and give ourselves grace when life throws us a curveball and things don’t work out the way we thought they would.

And I hope that as a family, you will too.

Don’t wait for perfect.

Don’t believe that every other family has it all figured out.

Don’t think you need a miracle to come together.

Just have dinner and start tonight.

Our favorite E-Mealz meal of the week.

We moved last Saturday, so everything is still in boxes. Everything that is except the crock pot. Guess what we had? The Crock Pot Barbecue from week 2 of the dinner challenge! And it was just as wonderful this time around as it was then. I should specify that it was not the same barbecue. Though as a bachelor I might have believed there was a 10 week window you could eat a meal within, I’ve since learned that’s not true. We made a new meal.

Our dinner record for the week.

We went 6 for 7 this week, but the night we missed was for a great reason. My wife and I celebrated our 10_year wedding anniversary by going out to dinner with some friends. And the kids weren’t invited!

How about you?

How many nights this week did you eat dinner with your family? Did you beat me?

What was your favorite E-Mealz meal?

4 thoughts on “{Jon Acuff} Bringing Dinner Back Week #12 ~ The problem with perfect

  1. Charlie Chang

    We went 7 for 7. Our favorite was the hot roast beef sandwiches. I bought some tofu and my daughter ate that instead. As a 4 year old, she’s already making sure she doesn’t clog her arteries with lard. So smart, so wise.

  2. Mary

    I have really enjoyed all I’ve read from you, Jon. Funny and real are a good combo on this journey of life in God.
    So this post was 2 months ago. What are your dinner together goals for life, now that the challenge is over? I assume from the things you wrote about that the goal wasn’t to go “back to normal” as soon as the 12 week challenge was over. What does your “new normal” look like, if I may be a little nosy?
    Thanks for sharing.

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