Hello! Welcome to the Quivering Daughters website. Please note that this site is no longer being updated with new material but I hope you find the archives helpful. God bless you.

Grace With a Floppy Face

I don't sew much anymore, but when I was six years old, a thoughtful gift from my mom  ~ a cookie tin stuffed with my very own red pincushion, thread, buttons, and delightful squares of fabric ~ launched several years of  me curling up on my bed, trailing awkward stitches in whatever scraps of calico I could find. I spent hours at Wal-mart looking at rows of colorful cotton, imagining everything I could make with the materials. I loved to create things, to bring beauty and joy using ribbon and satin, rosettes and yarn, muslin and batiste.
     As I grew older and perfectionism set in, this affected my sewing as well. Unhappy with the slightest pucker in a hem, I'd rip the whole thing out and start new, fresh. Even though no one else could see interior seams, the slightest fray that I knew was there grated on my mind like nails on chalkboard, prompting me to devour a book from the library on Sewing the Perfect Seam and then transforming simple patterns into French couture ~ on the inside, at least. Sometimes, when projects became hopelessly befuddled and beyond [perfect in my eyes] repair, I abandoned them to my little sisters who gleefully added them to their own collections. It got so bad that at one point, sentimental me-who-keeps-everything threw away the very first project I made with my birthday sewing kit: a floppy little dolly which I thought was dreadfully ugly.
     But my mom saw something in her I didn't, fished her out of the trash, and stuck her away in a special place.
     The thing about perfectionism is that it eventually leads to burnout. It's tough to gather motivation for a new project when we know how draining it is to complete it to standard. It's hard to keep "fighting the good fight" when every day we fail to measure up. Perfectionism becomes a ruthless master, killing, stealing, destroying, and ravaging our lives. Aghast at the efforts of the Galatians, Paul exclaimed, "Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh?" (3:3) Yet perfectionists try, and try, and try...growing physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually fatigued.
I made her all by myself
when I was six.
My floppy dolly with crayon eyes and lips.
Thank you, mom.
    The truth is that God commands us to be holy. Holiness and perfection are not necessarily the same. The sacrificial lambs were required to be perfect, without spot or blemish. The Sacrificial Lamb was holy, set apart, sanctified. For those raised within authoritarian, high-demand, performance-based, image-conscious households, understanding grace comes at a personal cost because our very ideas of faith, goodness, and biblical living are wrapped up in how godly and righteous we can be. Yet what does God say?
     Perhaps what we run from most, in ourselves, is what God wants for His glory?
     Isn't this the personification of perfectionism: us running from our weaknesses, our failures, our unfinished seams? And in the arduous quest for perfection, are we unwittingly running from grace?
     I believe that until we can stop striving for perfection and rest, trusting in the One who justifies the ungodly, grace will remain elusive. Because grace is found through brokenness, through mistakes, through ugly things, through a little dolly swept from the trash bin by a mother who understood something I had yet to learn.

Grace makes the imperfect . . .

Please share your thoughts about grace! Link an article or post of your own in the Linky box below, and if you like, compose a new post on your website or blog inviting other readers to join us on our Journey to Grace. As a friendly reminder, if you would like to receive articles from Quivering Daughters delivered softly through email, please subscribe here!

Discover grace with us on Fridays and link to discoveries of your own...


  1. You know, I don't totally agree with everything here, but this post...it's amazing. Some of the other posts I'm still trying to study and figure out if I believe it or not. Because with this, like with anything else, I've learned not to just believe what someone says, but to look at it and study and consider for myself. Which is what a lot of these patriarchial families DON'T want their children to do.

    Again, thanks for this post. It's amazing. I am hoping to be able to buy your book some time soon as you seem a little more balanced than a lot of the ex-patriarchy people and may be closer to what I've experienced than anyone else so far. I used to appreciate the No Longer Quivering website, but she has totally rejected Christianity along with patriarchy, whereas I haven't, and it doesn't look like you have either.

    In fact, I still go to a fundamental Baptist Church because I don't see them as all the same. A lot are, but not all. I'm still finding my place in the world though. I'm thankful for blogs like this that still want to be true to the Bible.

  2. Hillary, that doll is absolutely beautiful! I love "imperfect" things. There is just something so pure and innocent about them. I have always enjoyed "primitive" country decorating. There is just something comforting about it looking homemade.

    Almost three years ago, I made my girls quilts for their bed. I made them in a hurry, because they were for Christmas and I was running out of time. In fact, I made one in basically one day.

    It has LOT's of Flaws in it. But I have learned to roll with the punches.

    Last Christmas my MIL bought the girls "perfect" comforters. It hurt my feelings, but my girls seemed to be pleased with them.

    Yesterday, as we were cleaning their room, I asked them if they ever missed their quilts. They said, "YES! Let's put them back on!"

    As silly as it sounds I was relieved. They loved my quilts after all, and they preferred them above the "perfect" ones.

    My girls gave me grace yesterday. ♥

  3. Hillary, your post reminds me of my own frustrations with sewing as a child. I finally gave it up entirely.

    About perfectionism: Matthew 5:48 tells us to "be perfect" like God is perfect, yet perfection is defined in terms of loving your enemies. Those who become obsessed with other types of "perfection" (like myself many times) are in some sense like Martha, putting other activities before Christ (Luke 10:38-42). There's so much room for error, it's no wonder people get burnt out.

  4. Thank you, dear one. This spoke to me today... "running from grace"... from my weakness, when my weaknesses give Him such ample material for His glory to be seen...

  5. Thank you so much Hillary. This was great and really quite timely. As you know, I sew. I have 2 more weeks at Starbucks and then I am going to home and trying to bring in an income with my crafting. I struggle so much with perfection in sewing. Sometimes is paralyzes me and keeps me from making space to be creative and worship God with my gifts. Thank you. I needed this right now.

  6. Ugh I tried to link up to your feature but you HAVE to have a picture for it to let you link up. Problem is, it doesn't like any of my pictures.

  7. I loved this post. I think that perfectionism really can keep you from letting God love you.

  8. Katy-Anne, I had the same problem! Hillary, is there some way to fix this? Thanks.

  9. your writing is always so thorough and I love that. the best books are the ones that i write alongside and i always find myself wanting to take notes of your blog! ;)

    I fall into perfectionist tendencies and it consistently leads to burnout, you are right.

    I wrote about Grace and motherhood today...I will try to link it up.

    Much love, Hillary. Your ministry is awesome and I can't wait to see how God continues to grow it.

  10. This is beautiful, Hillary. I always tell people that God has an incredible love for that which is broken. Your post puts substance and depth to that thought.

  11. Katy-Anne,
    I'm so glad this post touched you, and I'm REALLY glad that what you read on this blog inspires you to seek the Scripture and the Lord for yourself to know what is true. I don't want any of my readers to merely accept what I write, and the fact that it moves you to spend time with the Lord, searching, praying, and seeking makes me happy!!! :-)

    J2J....awww! I love that your girls blessed you that way! And that's not silly at all. :-)

    Jenny, I thought of that verse while writing, and it might be a matter of semantics but the way it appears is that Jesus gives a list and by use of "therefore" (NKJV) shows a result, which is perfection, of doing what He says. Basically, "if you do all this stuff, you'll be perfect like God!" And later He says no one is good except God, so while of course we are to obey, I think serves to show us why we NEED Jesus...because He is our perfection. Does that make sense or did I muddle that up? :P

    Dawn...glad to hear that; I'd love to talk to you about it sometime.

    Eric, Alisa, and Young Mom, thank you. :-)

    I am sorry about the linky tool...I changed the html; does it work now?

  12. Lewis, that means a lot...thank you. And I agree...

  13. Hillary: lol I wouldn't say you "moddled" it up. That's just a different way of looking at it than I was doing. :D

    Btw, yes, the Linky tool works better now...only I had to report!

  14. Ahh...I'm sorry Jenny! But thank you for reposting. I will use this format in the future. Thanks for your patience. :-)

  15. Melissa, thank you! {{hugs}} And thanks for linking your amazing site...going to read your post.

  16. Hillary, I enjoyed reading this so much!

    Before I clicked over here I had actually begun writing a post that coincides with this post in many ways. Maybe next week I can link up; that is, if I'm able to make my writing sound {exactly} as I want it to; you know, as {perfect} as possible...

    Yeah, it's a problem. Grace is difficult to accept/receive when I would so much rather have the capabilities to produce perfection.

  17. sry i was trying to participate in the linky link but epic fail. i wanted to give a link to an awesome post @ abiding life about law & grace and instead it takes you to my blog. LOL

  18. Leah, I hope you do! And it will be beautiful. :-)

  19. I ran across your blog through The Saturday Evening Post. I thought this was beautiful and will share it on my facebook page.


Comments are turned off.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.