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Perfectionism, revisited

Posted on May 9, 2014 by in A perfectionist's musings | 0 comments


So as I admitted in a recent post, I am a recovering perfectionist.   Apostle Paul said that he was the chiefest of sinners…well, I just may be the “chiefest” of perfectionists!  There isn’t an area in my life that isn’t touched by perfectionism.  A few weeks ago, I was praying and I told God, “I have so many issues!  How will you be able to fix all of them?”  He quietly spoke to me in response, “No, you only have one issue- perfectionism.  Allow me to heal you of perfectionism, and all the shame, self-condemnation, guilt, fear, anxiety and worry will go with it.”

Talk about an “aha” moment… that was like a two-by-four across the head for me.

“Okay, I get it!  This perfectionism is a big deal…and I need complete deliverance!”

Brené Brown (author, professor, researcher) stated once that many of us laughingly admit that we’re perfectionists… meaning that,  “we do things really well”.   We don’t realize that it’s KILLING us.  Brown goes on to say,

“When perfectionism is driving, shame is riding shotgun, and fear is the annoying backseat driver.”

Is perfectionism driving in your life?

Shame and perfectionism go hand-in-hand.  They’re our mortal enemies, sent by the Enemy to plague our minds and destroy our peace and well-being.

Perfectionism will steal your dreams and rob you of your confidence, because it leaves you terrified of making mistakes.  Here’s another confession of mine: Fear of Failure has ruled my entire life. I have tried to conquer it by reading leadership books (Failing Forward by John Maxwell terrified me), memorizing Bible verses, and chanting positive affirmation phrases to myself, but I’ve never been able to convince myself that it is okay to fail.

But Jesus is beginning to do a work in me.

The other day He led me to a beautiful verse in Song of Solomon that showed me how He sees me-

“You are altogether beautiful, my love;
there is no flaw in you.”

Song of Solomon 4:7, RSV

“There is no flaw in you.”

But God, I have lots of flaws!  Tons of them!  Look here!  What about this one?

“You are altogether beautiful, my love.”

Whoa, wait God.  Don’t give me any added pressure now! How can I measure up to that standard?

“You are already altogether beautiful, my darling.”

We are beautiful to Him, because we are His handiwork and His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10).  That being said, look at these verses that make our imperfection and lowliness abundantly clear:

Paul declared that he gloried in his infirmities and in his weaknesses so that God would receive the glory by showing Himself strong in Him (2 Corinthians 12:9,10).  He tells us that God created us weak and dependent on Him so that “no man might boast in the presence of God” (I Corinthians 1:29).  David acknowledged in Psalm 51:5 that he was “shapen in iniquity”.  God tells us clearly through His prophet Isaiah that our righteousness is as filthy rags to Him (Isaiah 54:6).  And Paul tells us the plain and simple truth of who we are and why God picked us:

Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him.

I Corinthians1:26-29, NIV

God reminds me over and over in His Word that I am imperfect.  We all are!  But the good news is that He chose me because of my lowliness and weakness in order to show off His power through me.  He knows that I came from dust (Psalm 103:14),  and for that reason He gives me a lot more grace than I grant myself.  Paul got it right when he said,

“For this I labor…striving will all the superhuman energy which He so mightily enkindles and works within me. “

Colossians 1:29, AMP

Yes!  Let’s use the superhuman energy and limitless strength of our Heavenly Father instead of struggling on our own! His energy is infinite; His strength never failing!  Paul also reminds us that,

Saving is all his idea, and all his work. All we do is trust him enough to let him do it. It’s God’s gift from start to finish! We don’t play the major role. If we did, we’d probably go around bragging that we’d done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving.
Ephesians 2:8, 9, MSG

God never meant for us to strive on our own! He didn’t create us just to sit back and watch us struggle!  He never meant it to be that way.  So why do I think that I need to get it right on my own?  Why have I believed all my life that I had to work hard enough and be good enough in order to squeeze myself into His good graces?  He’s not impressed by my little efforts!  They are small and inconsequential to Him.  In fact, what really excites Him is when we throw up our hands and say, “Daddy!  Daddy, I need you again! I have some really big needs and this huge dream that I can’t possibly pull off without You…do you have a minute?”  “Jesus!  It’s me again!  Hope you’re not tired of helping this little girl, but I really can’t figure this out on my own.  Will You teach me?”

It’s time to let go of our fear of failure.  It’s time to say NO to the anxiety that comes from all of our striving. It’s time for us to tear down our pride.  It’s time to admit that WE ARE NOT PERFECT…but we weren’t created to be.

It’s time to change drivers.  Kick perfectionism out of the driver’s seat, and hand the keys to Jesus!

Yes, I will make mistakes, but I will “strive according to His power that powerfully works in me” and I will march on! I will look to the Author and the Finisher of my faith, knowing that He who began a good work in me is faithful and will continue the work in me until the day when He comes and rescues me from this fallen world (Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 1:6)!

Yes and amen!

Who’s with me?



photo credit: <a href=””>Lotus Carroll</a> via <a href=””>photopin</a> <a href=””>cc</a>


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