Worth Doing Badly

I love Pinterest. Really, I do. And it’s been a helpful tool for me as I figure out what my personal decorating style is, collect recipes to try, and file away ideas for later. I love seeing the creativity other people have, and the beauty God lets us create.

But sometimes, Pinterest sets the bar too high.

G.K. Chesterton said, “If a thing is worth doing, it is worth doing badly.” A profound statement, and one I whole-heartedly agree with. Of course it’s best if you can do things well. Excellency is something we should strive for. But often, even a less-than-perfect job is better than not doing something at all.

My real-life example? It was a hot summer day. A great day for yard work, playing outside with the toddler, doing laundry, and for my hardworking husband, shoveling gravel. The sun was beating down and the thermometer stood at 88 degrees. Sweat beaded on my face and trickled down my back. I looked at my man, his shirt soaked in perspiration, and thought, I should make him some lemonade.

I didn’t make him this lemonade, although it looks amazing and I want to try it at some point. No, I threw another load of laundry in the washer, chased down the toddler, and said, “Want to help Mama make Daddy some lemonade?” We found the biggest glass in the house (but we didn’t have any ice) and used…lemonade powder. From Aldi. (Those of you in the Midwest know what that means…this is even cheaper and probably junkier than Country Time!)Don't let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

Guess what? My husband took it gratefully and drank every drop. Would he have enjoyed fresh-squeezed lemons? Of course. But that wasn’t realistically going to happen that day, and he thought what we gave him was wonderful.

It’s easy to let this kind of thing feel like “cheating.” As a full-time homemaker, I consider housekeeping, cooking, etc. to be my career, and I want to do my best. I’d like to be perfect, in fact. There is a quote attributed to Voltaire that goes, “Don’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.” (Gretchen Rubin has written a really good article about this.)

“Perfect” is Martha Stewart/Pinterest/Better Homes and Gardens lemonade. “Good?” That’s lemonade of any kind.

By the way, you’re welcome to follow me on Pinterest. Just know I usually end up creating my own (simplified) version of the pins on my boards. Embrace what helps you and skip the rest.

Image credit: pike_TS via stock.xchng


  1. This is especially true when involving kids, something to keep in mind! 🙂

    My recent experience was trying to make my first fruit trifle. It did NOT end up in those neat/pretty stripes. My husband (who is Russian) described it as a cake salad, which is actually pretty accurate!

    One lesson I am struggling over and over again to learn is to be realistic, simplify, let GO (before it’s too late and I’ve dissolved in tears). Thanks for the encouragement that I’m not the only one!

  2. Thanks for this, Jeannie, this is something I often think about when playing the piano – doing something that I enjoy and that I know blesses my family, but not doing it “perfectly”. I appreciate the encouragement! 🙂

    1. Glad it encouraged you, Elisabeth! And I think we’re often harder on ourselves than others are. I’m sure your family loves your music!

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