You probably know the signs.
Fear of disapproval from others. Obsession over every little mistake. You’re a success one moment and a failure the next. The feeling you have to be strong and control of your emotions. Beaten down by mistakes. The perpetual feeling you aren’t there yet. Defensive sometimes.
Perfectionism. It’s a really large animal, guys, and it’s an animal in my fence. Since high school I’ve lightly said “I’m a perfectionist so that’s why…..” but I don’t think I truly understood how it affected my life until recently. A couple of life instances challenged this tendency of mine, so I prayed, wrestled, and sought godly counsel.
“I can’t handle having someone being upset with me.”
“My boss will think I am lazy if I take a couple of sick days.”
“I shouldn’t be feeling this way. I should be doing ______.”
“Anything less than perfect isn’t good enough.”
These are examples of perfectionistic thinking, examples of my thinking.
I’ve learned that perfectionism isn’t just a personality trait where you want to always have a clean house or put-together outfit. Dare I say, it’s a poison.
The thing about trying to be perfect is… it is YOU trying to perfect yourself. So then where is God? Many of us try to live perfectly. We try to watch our behavior, our thoughts and our actions, but all that really happens is our failure, shortcomings and imperfections magnify. Our trying so hard becomes harder and harder as we focus more and more on ourselves. It is easy to fall into the legalistic life of the Pharisees. via
Well. Reading that hit me pretty hard.
In response I go back to the Gospel. Preaching the Gospel to myself helps me take my eyes off of myself and how I’m doing. It helps me fix my eyes on Christ, the person who fulfilled all of God’s perfect conditions so that my relationship with Him could be perfectly unconditional.
What shines forth and reveals God in your life is not your relative consistency to an idea of what a saint should be, but your genuine, living relationship with Jesus Christ.
Christian perfection is the perfection of a relationship with God that shows itself to be true even amid the seemingly unimportant aspects of human life. via
Genuine, living relationship with Jesus. Not focusing on myself to check where I am on the meter. Just living it, seeking Him, being in relationship with Him. Heaven knows I can’t change on my own. Enter the Holy Spirit. This is probably going to be one of those ‘minute-by-minute pleading with God for help things,’ but I know and trust and find peace in His presence.
As of this moment, I declare trust in a loving God, and myself as a recovering perfectionist. Resting in Jesus, leaving the right kind of perfecting to Him.
Has anyone ever been down a similar road? Daisy wrote a post recently about how perfectionism steals your joy, and it was spot on.
This post hit the nail on the head. My name is Julie and I’m a recovering perfectionist too :). I think it comes down to all about trust and faith. Trust that the Lord will take care of it all and I don’t have to! My life and stress levels are so much better when I simply rest in His love and peace! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this!
Chelsea B.E. says
“I think it comes down to all about trust and faith. Trust that the Lord will take care of it all and I don’t have to!” Amen, sister. Easier said than done, but I am encouraged that we’re kindred hearts :)
Holly Loube says
There is so much wisdom and transparency in this post. So often perfectionism is referenced as a healthy goal, but you’re, it’s not. I love the quote about how perfectionism essentially takes God out of the picture. Keeping your eyes on grace will surely remind you that Jesus is the only perfect one. Thanks for sharing this :)
Oh yes. I too fight perfectionism. Constantly. And now I sit and watch my eldest son battle it too. I love the reminder that we don’t need to be enough. Because we aren’t. We just aren’t. But we can point to the One who is. Thank you for sharing so honestly and vulnerably!
Chelsea B.E. says
Amen, sister! Ashley, I can’t imagine watching my child deal with something I myself deal with. I imagine it would be a humbling and challenge-prompting thing.