Are you a perfectionist?
I didn’t fully realize how much of a perfectionist I am until this weekend.
The temptation is for me to convince myself that I am not a perfectionist, because I know how imperfect I am. Well, isn’t that exactly the type of thing a perfectionist would say?
I hold myself to very, very high standards. I get very upset with myself, and sometimes other people, when I fail to meet those standards. Comparison is at the root of many of these standards. Growing up, I always thought I was super mediocre, because I wasn’t as smart as Mary Bowen, as pretty as Liz, as talented as Elise, as self-confident as Jenny, as outgoing as Brianne. Wanting to be perfect at everything was holding me back from seeing that perfection is, itself, what I wanted.
I have beaten comparison in a lot of ways, since studying Calm My Anxious Heart, going to Australia, and struggling with health, going to counseling, and kind of re-vamping my self image, so to speak. But I didn’t realize that perfectionism still has such a stronghold in my heart.
This past weekend, working at the missions conference I run each year, I came face-to-face with the realization that I am still holding myself to HIGH standards, in many areas. I had to delegate a LOT, which everyone says is a strength, but of course I felt it as weakness. I found judgment creeping in when I saw ways that I would have been more organized. I cringed over the inability to spend excessive time being completely anal about grammar in all the printed material.
“Whoa,” I thought. “I am trying way too hard. I need to stop seeking the highest standard for every area of life, and trying to achieve that. No one is perfect in every single area of life, so I don’t need to be either.”
Instead of spending so much mental energy looking at who is the best at photography, and what the most stylish girl looks like, and what I need to do to appear the most put-together, and how to arrange my house so it’s the cutest, and trying to be the best cook, and the best at strategy games, and the best at my job, and the best life group leader, ladies, I could go ON and ON! Of course it’s not just mental energy looking and comparing and judging and planning, it’s the physical energy and TIME spent shopping and talking and preparing and executing.
Do you struggle with this? I don’t have an amazing lesson to share, but here are the two steps I think I need to take to become less perfect at being a perfectionist:
Number 1: Give myself grace. Sometimes this is hard for me. I need to find the balance between grace meaning “giving up” and grace meaning “trusting God.” Do you know what I mean?? Instead of just dropping the ball entirely and having an I-don’t-care attitude, I should pray and rest knowing that God has got it under control.
Number 2: Look at Jesus. Jesus actually was (is) perfect, but He didn’t do everysinglething. In many people’s eyes, He was a failure at some things, like entertaining and making friends. But He knew what was important, and He did the things that mattered most – to God, not to other people. Not to mention how humble He was about all of His strengths. He is the perfect example. Not only that, but He is what I need to seek: not the next great recipe on Pinterest, the perfect yoga/running/lifting body, or checking off books read on Goodreads. A relationship with Jesus is all I need. Praise Him!