The steps to recovery for an (almost) reformed perfectionist
If you missed my first Chase post, find it here.
What is perfection? I am both baffled and humbled by the realization that God is perfection.Without God, there is no notion of perfect. What can an atheist call perfect? But I don’t want to go down that road now…
From the beginning, we were made perfect. Whole. In God’s image with His piece of our heart fully intact. Of course it didn’t stay that way for long, so here I am, an imperfect person made to seek a perfect God. Except I don’t like to seek His perfection. I like to seek my own perfection.
I like to get 100% on tests. I like to get 1st place in any contest I enter. I like to be the superlative in every situation: best, fastest, smartest, first are all words I like to accompany my name.
“So the last will be first, and the first will be last.” – Matthew 20:16
First place with man is last place with God. I could say this til I’m blue in the face and still not truly interactively understand it.
Chasing my own perfection leads to pride…the type of pride that is completely incompatible with a relationship with God.
God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.
I surely don’t want God to resist me! By grace my stubborn soul is learning to let go of my own perceived perfection and instead follow the one Man who really did live a perfect life.
And I bet Jesus didn’t win any contests. I bet He didn’t even enter. Funny how much is proven by having nothing to prove.
1. Give all glory to God
You can tell a lot about someone’s character by how they accept criticism. But perhaps you can discern even more from how they accept praise.
It is so easy to receive praise with a “yeah, I’m awesome” response. But the truth is, I am taking credit for another’s work.
Any talent I have, any beauty I wear, any motivation I possess, any understanding I share, did not come from me. I am a wretch, anything good inside me has come from God.
If I take the credit, what does it profit? But if I turn around and glorify God, ears are hearing the gospel! Eyes are seeing a transformed life!
May we follow Jesus’ example:
“I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me.”
“The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.” – John 14:10
“I can of Myself do nothing.”
– John 5:30
2. Rejoice in imperfections
God works in the messy. His light shines best through brokenness. The most beautiful stories are the ones with sad chapters and glorious endings. So why are we so afraid of the imperfect?
We do not learn by doing everything right. Perfection is a ceiling, inhibiting growth and impeding our journey upward to the Divine.
Rather let’s see each imperfection as a rung on an infinite ladder, to propel us upward and then fade away as we move further on our journey.
When I make a mistake and it costs me something, the price is always repaid. If our hearts are softened to God, He will use the broken to heal. If we were already perfect, He would have no room to work.
“Jesus answered them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
- Luke 5:31-32
3. Do not let one activity rule your life
I tend to be impulsive and impetuous. I can be from one passion to the next in the blink of an eye. In the past year alone I have taken up sewing, started writing this blog, started really pursuing clean eating, and began a garden at our house, to name a few. And it is so easy for one of these things to become the One Thing in my life.
You know the One Thing…
The thing that consumes your mind when your thoughts wander
The thing you rush to when you actually find free time
The thing you can’t help but talk about in every conversation
None of the activities I mention are inherently sinful or even bad. In fact, they are good!
It’s when I inject the poison of perfectionism into them that they keep me from God.
If I refuse to eat something set before me in love for the sole reason it doesn’t fit into my diet, I am denying one of God’s good gifts.
If I grow angry with myself when I have to rip out a seam, I am not reflecting Christ’s character.
If I don’t share a post God has called me to write because I feel it’s not quite right, I am impeding the gospel.
We are made to be all-in on something. But none of the things I mention will measure up. We can only safely be all-in on the One who gave up all for us.
Being all-in on any of these One Things and inherently seeking perfection in them always leads down the road of sin.
Perfectionism was and is one of the biggest stumbling blocks to the gospel in my life. It binds me in chains when Jesus has already set me free. It beckons me to chase it, then runs away like a Charlie Brown football, leaving me flat on my back, finally looking to the heavens.
You are already perfect. Shine on.