I recently admitted to myself that I struggle with perfectionism.
Peer into my life and you’ll realise it’s highly imperfect. But I guess that isn’t the point. Perfectionism is in the straining towards an ideal standard in your head – not the (highly mythical) achieving of it. I believe that those wise people who’ve mastered ‘imperfectionism’ are the ones who’ve discovered that ‘good enough’ is much, much more liberating…
I think part of my struggle comes from the deeply embedded idea that if I succeed in doing everything just right, I’ll be acceptable and loved by everyone. The trouble, I find, lies in the confusion surrounding what’s actually ‘right’ (and in whose opinion anyway?)…
It’s irrational, but I think such striving simply reflects a desire we all have to prove our own worth, and to be loved for it. Unconditionally.
You’d think that when I accepted just how much God loves me and has forgiven me I would’ve given up the need to prove myself. But it’s in my nature to keep trying to earn his favour – as if it was about me, and my ability to impress him. I realise though that by saying I’m not good enough, I’m essentially saying he’s not good enough (to quote a wise friend).
When such tendencies rear themselves, it’s helpful to remind myself of the following truths:
* 1. Only God is truly perfect, and he alone can make me more like him.
Bill Gaultiere wrote: “God alone is perfect and his perfection is manifested in Jesus Christ. To receive Christ into our life is to receive his perfection so that God accepts us as righteous because of Christ. [We experience] a process of being perfected by God’s power as we trust in the Lord Jesus and train ourselves to grow in godliness. Being perfected in the character of Christ is different than what is ordinarily meant by perfectionism. Perfectionism is a manifestation of anxiety, straining to be ideal or to have an ideal experience of some kind.”
“As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless.” (Psalm 18:30)
“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” (2 Corinthians 4:16)
* 2. I am acceptable not because of what I’ve done (or am trying to do), but what he’s done.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God– not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)
* 3. True strength and power comes on us when we admit our weaknesses and our complete need for God.
“‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
* 4. Knowing just how much I am loved and redeemed by the God of the universe helps dispel the fears and anxieties which keep the focus on me, and my achievements.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” (1 John 4:18)
God, please make me perfect in your love – not my own human striving…
No need to strive with Jesus in you! God reminds us to “be still and know” that He is God! You are beautiful, inside and out! Your children are precious too!
You are so right – so important to remember. And thank you for that, so lovely of you. God bless!
EXCELLENT post, Ali.
For many years I struggled with the tyranny of perfectionism believing that if I was pretty enough, smart enough and perfect enough someone, somewhere would love me. EXHAUSTING!! That was before I understood that SomeONE had always loved me.
Developing my relationship with Jesus and raising three boys helped me accept that giving my best is indeed good enough. And Jesus fills in where I lack.
LOVED Bill Gaultiere’s quote. Am tweeting this post… 🙂
Sheila at Longings End
Thanks Sheila! I’m so glad your journey has led you to understand such love and wisdom about his acceptance, and you being absolutely adored just as you are. Thank you for commenting, and tweeting 🙂
PS…your boys are ADORABLE!! LOVED the pic.
Hehe thank you!!
I love this post. I was in the midst of writing a comment, but then closed the page because I didn’t like how it sounded. But does what I write need to be perfect?? I struggle far too much with perfectionism… but it’s because of our imperfection that we require a Savior. God bless! 🙂
It sounds like we’re very similar – so true, our Imperfection just shows we need him, and His love covers all our flaws. So glad you did end up writing such wisdom and encouraging me 🙂 keep resting in Him and His complete and unconditional acceptance of you x
You’re speaking my language in this post, here. I am a perfectionist and struggle with similar things that you have described. But you’re so right about what you said about God.
Love this: ‘God, please make me perfect in your love – not my own human striving…’
Amen to that – thanks for a great post.
Thank you Brian – it’s such a struggle not to do things in our own strength and work towards our idea of perfection isn’t it? Thankfully we rest in the arms of the perfect one who loves us just as we are.
What a perfect post, dear Ali, about not being perfect . .. but being perfected in Christ! Thank you for the lift this gives all of us who struggle to be perfect or feel bad because we aren’t. God bless you, God’s Girl! You’re kids are so cute!!!!
Thank you Debbie! Amen to the ongoing work of perfection that only Christ can do 🙂 god bless! Xx
Great post Ali! Was reminded today when I was far from perfect of the incredible grace and freedom we have that when we repent and seek His forgiveness (and other’s if need be!) the standard in our lives is reset – we don’t need to stay feeling terrible or condemned. He has removed our sin/shortcomings as far as the east is from the west. Such freedom in such generous grace. Bless you and your gorgeous boys!
Wow… yes we all need reminding of that don’t we. I love the word ‘reset’ – it’s incredible isn’t it!
Thanks for stopping by, and God bless you! x
I have the same struggle, ever since I was a child. I find that my need for perfection peaks when life seems chaotic and out of control. You’ve referenced some great scriptures here. God’s grace is enough…I don’t know why I have to complicate it.
That’s interesting what you say about it peaking when things are crazy/out of control (I can see that tendency in myself too). I guess we want to feel ‘in control’ and capable when everything else is crashing around… Yeah, I hear ya! I guess we just need to keep reminding ourselves to rest in His all-sufficient grace and power. Blessings,
Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today… my God made me perfect, who am I to question Him? Great article~
Amen to that! Thank you for taking the time to read it, and may you keep walking in His unconditional love and acceptance of you as His beautiful daughter.