I am very type A. Which is a blessing and a curse. Over the years I have mellowed out quite a bit, but once upon a time, even my burned CDs were color coded, with handwritten song track cards for each one. Must have had too much time on my hands. Ha!!
There is nothing wrong with being a high achiever. God made us each differently, with unique personalities. We are fearfully and wonderfully made!! But here’s where the problem comes in: it is very easy to allow perfection to become our goal. And the bad news is that we can’t reach perfection. It’s impossible. When we constantly strive for an unattainable goal, it exhausts us, ultimately making us miserable and defeated. And yet we continue trying, running on that treadmill, spinning our wheels but never really getting anywhere because we are focused on the wrong unachievable thing.
There’s another aspect to perfectionism that I have recently discovered. We can even try to reach perfection in our walks with Christ and then become bummed out when we fall short. What do I mean? Well, we can want to do His will, desire to please Him, and then when we inevitably blow it, (because HELLO we aren’t perfect 😊), we beat ourselves up to the point of being overwhelmed by guilt and shame. Yes, we need to confess and repent, but then we need to MOVE ON! It’s often hard for perfectionists to accept God’s grace and forgiveness, because that means we messed up. We may try to make up for it by “doing better” and pretty soon, we are back on that treadmill, unable to move forward, burdened by our own imperfections.
Here’s the truth for all of us perfectionists: we aren’t perfect!! And it’s OK. Jesus Christ lived a perfect life FOR us because we could not. And when we accept him as our Savior and LORD, His righteousness covers us instantly. We are still sinners, but God sees us through the lens of His Son. So we can stop trying so hard to earn it and rest in His grace. And while we are it, we can stop looking to see how other people are doing on the perfection scale.
I wish I could say that I have laid the goal of perfection down at His feet. I still battle it, although it looks differently than it did in my college years. (Does anyone even burn CDs anymore? Ha!!) It creeps back up subconsciously, and the enemy bombards me with thoughts on anything from my parenting to my skills as a homemaker until I am worn out. So how am I going to fight it? I will hide his word in my heart. Starting with this one.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1, ESV)
Perfectionism is a burden if there ever was one. The next time I feel it strangling me I’ll try to remember this verse along with one little word… grace. Thank you Jesus.