In a world of Pinterest perfection, it’s easier than ever to suffer that paralysis of creativity that occurs in the face of others’ brilliance. While we may observe with appreciation, we find ourselves unable to put our own pen to paper. The empty canvas stays tucked away in the corner of the garage and we content ourselves with the works of others.
Just like that: generations of beauty and blessings are lost. Lost to the lie that if a thing is worth doing, it’s only ever worth doing brilliantly.
It’s not a phenomenon unique to our technologically-advanced society. In fact, it was the master of observation, G K Chesterton, who first turned that phrase on its head: “If a thing is worth doing,” he said…”it’s worth doing badly.”
His thought behind this curious statement? Celebrate the beauty in the process of doing something worthwhile. And do it. Simply because it is worthwhile.
It’s a phrase that resonates deep in my soul and motivates me to enjoy creating with as much abandon as a toddler with finger paints. Do it. Enjoy it. Experience it. Sure, a job done well is a worthwhile pursuit, but a job done is equally worthwhile.
It’s worth making dinner for my family every night. So, the overcooked spaghetti is a far cry from Masterchef? If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. And the laughter around the dinner table, as we discuss the stories from our day, feeds the soul as daily as our mediocre meals feed our bodies.
It’s worth telling a person the gospel. So, I stumble over my words and feel my cheeks redden in my fumbling? If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. So, I pray and thank God that it’s my obedience He requires, not my perfection.
It’s worth exploring the world of beauty and art and music and words. So, my childlike doodles only ever dance across my private journal? And my fingers can only stumble childlike across the piano keyboard? If a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing badly. And so, I stop. I smile. I close my eyes and relish the subliminal joy that is the blessed gift of a thing worth doing.
And I say, “Thank You.” Thank you to the one who gives us so many things worth doing.
- A Thing Worth Doing - July 21, 2014
- Hope for the Rainbow Nation - July 31, 2013
My daughter’s sixth grade teacher told me that she was always reminding her students if they were going to do something, do their very best. Except when it came to my first born perfectionist (then) twelve year old. She told her that anything worth doing was worth doing badly.
What a great teacher to understand her perfectionist tendencies and I used the phrase many times since then (she is now a mother of five).
Taryn Hayes says
What a fantastic teacher to figure out the nuances between the kids in her class. Your daughter scored, for sure! Thanks for sharing – I love hearing other people’s experiences. 🙂
Helena Sorensen says
Taryn, this is lovely! So enjoyed it. I didn’t know about this Chesterton quote, and it’s one I’ll remember.
Taryn Hayes says
Thanks, Helena! It’s a great quote and resonates deeply with me. I hope it sticks with you, too.
Loren Warnemuende says
Thank you for this encouragement, Taryn. I’m so much more willing to let my children explore and do, even if it’s not perfect, than myself. For me there’s always an excuse why I’m *not* doing something I would love to do well, because I’m afraid something will come out that shouldn’t.
Taryn Hayes says
Ah! Yes. I often find myself having to practice what I preach to my kids. All of this is easier said than done – but, oh, so liberating when eventually we do just do something we love for the sake of the process and not the sake of the result. All the best with your exploring of your favourite things!