I’m a perfectionist. I’m tempted to now say, “you probably can’t tell from my blog though, it’s far from perfect!”, but that just demonstrates my perfectionist streak.
A few years back, I read that perfectionism is a sin and at the time I thought what?! No! It just means I have high standards and want to achieve the very best –nothing wrong with that.
But I’ve come to realize that my perfectionist tendencies are indeed debilitating and caging rather than useful and beneficial. I’ve also come to understand that it’s less about achieving my best, but more about personal insecurities and needing to feel validated in some way. It’s about trying to meet the expectations of others, rather than being content and confident in myself.
For example, I can sometimes spend months lamenting over what I said 5 months ago because it was incorrect in some way – whether factually, scripturally etc.
I used to agonize and have sleepless nights over my university coursework, because I believed it was just not the standard I expected of myself, it wasn’t PERFECT!
When I cook a meal for guests, I spoil it by continually apologizing…It’s too salty, too boring, too oily, not spicy enough, too tomatoey…
These may seem like little things, but they perpetually nag at the back of my mind. As Edwin Bliss said: “The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.” I certainly do feel neurotic with these “perfectionist” voices continually pecking at me.
But I am learning to let go of perfectionism. What’s important is being in line with God’s will and not defining or seeking success according to other people’s notions. I’m learning to be firm, secure and vocal about my convictions rather than consumed by worry about what so-and-so will say or think, or by focusing on what I’m not good at.
God created each one of us uniquely and with particular gifts, capabilities and personalities, all for a particular purpose. I may not have great social skills – spend an hour alone in a room with me, you may want to tear your hair out for lack of conversation – but I’m blessed with other talents according to His will and for His plan. You may sometimes put yourself down for not being good at something, for ‘failing’ at something in your life, perhaps for not knowing what you are good at, you may worry what your purpose is in life. But get this:
“My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be” (Psalm 139:15-16).
God placed something special within you (and me). Something to bring glory to Him. It may not be what you (or I) want or expect, but His will for our lives is perfect.
Step away from the world and its expectations for a little while and go into the Secret Place of His presence: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2).
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