I have a problem. Trying to write about it has only made the problem more glaringly obvious. I sat down to write about perfectionism paralysis on Monday. My last two blog posts were finalized in about twenty minutes. This one is going on four long days. Honestly, it’s getting humorous. Instead of thinking there’s a more perfect way to construct thoughts on this subject into relatable words I’m just going to take my own advice and surrender, so here ya go…
I’m fighting a losing battle and it’s time to lay my weapons down. It’s been me versus my own perception of perfection for years, decades even, and I have continually failed to claim the victory flag. Chasing perfection is exhausting and paralyzing. Perfection is a bully and playing by its rules leads to the death of motivation and goals. It’s been years of prayer and truth seeking to understand I fight with all the wrong weapons. No amount of try-harder-do-better-learn-more-care-less-buy-more-be-happy-suck-it-up-attitude wins this war. If it did, I would’ve taken my victory lap long ago.
Like the end of a Scooby-Doo episode, the first step to victory happens when we expose the culprit and demystify our enemy. When we remove the mask on perfection to reveal its true self all we find is a lie…“And I would’ve gotten away with the lie if it wasn’t for you meddling Jesus followers and your pesky Savior” (if you didn’t grow up watching Scooby-Doo that may not make sense to you). The lie is a mirage in the desert of life where we find ourselves parched for more because we don’t believe we’re enough. We don’t believe God, and who He says we are is enough. It’s the Garden of Eden played out day after day in our hearts and minds. The belief that a future event, possession, place, or person exists in this world satisfying our desire for perfection just isn’t real. It doesn’t exist. It’s a captivating and alluring notion, but a lie, nonetheless. Our multi-billion dollar marketing system depends on its appeal because it’s a pretty safe bet that people will continue to pursue its faulty promises. We are designed to desire more. We are designed to long for perfection. Our dream of a perfect state of being is so strong we will emotionally handcuff ourselves to its exhausting demands:
I’ll be happy when _____________.
I will stop waking up in a bad mood when ___________________.
I will stop yelling at my kids when _________________.
I’ll be a better wife when _______________.
I’ll love and respect myself when _____________________.
I’ll be content with my possessions when I have _____________________.
I’ll start using my gifts and talents when _________________________.
I’ll be content with my body when _____________________________.
I don’t think I’m alone in this battle. People, good people, are tired, depressed, and anxious from chasing the rainbow of perfection. I hear it especially from women all the time. The lie is running amok in our homes, churches, friendships, and families. It’s hard to discern sometimes because it hides in plain sight and takes on names like ambitions, desires, dreams, and hopes, but in reality it sucks joy and contentment out of otherwise healthy pursuits. As my sister-in-law and I exclaim to each other often, “It’s stealing my joy!” It’s true; the pursuit of perfection strips away joy in in the ordinary and everyday because the ordinary and everyday are gloriously messy and imperfect. We are tied to the belief that perfect happiness and peace are just on the other side of that relationship, degree, job, pay raise, weight, accomplishment, or possession. We live with this undercurrent of discontentment and anxiety believing we won’t experience freedom until we reach the greener grass of our perceived perfection.
What’s My New Weapon of Choice?
My new weapon is surrender and it’s one I have to pack in my daily arsenal. I surrender my belief in a more perfect me, and a more perfect life this side of heaven. I surrender the idealist mindset that I can’t act on a dream until x, y, and z change. I surrender the belief that if I can’t do it “perfectly” then I shouldn’t do it at all. I surrender the lie that baby steps don’t count.
If perfectionism isn’t an issue for you then this type of surrender might sound like giving up, like surrendering hope. It’s actually the opposite. Hope thrives in surrendered faith. Hope motivates us to shake off our chains of perfection and joyfully walk in peace filled imperfection. We have peace in a God who did it all perfectly so we don’t have to: truly, the pressure if off.
- I can parent effectively and lovingly even when I don’t see the results immediately.
- Squeezing in a 20-minute workout in a busy day does make a difference.
- Writing can happen in the midst dirty dishes, piles of laundry, and playing kids.
- Laughing with my husband doesn’t take a babysitter and fancy dinner.
- Spending time with God can happen anytime, anywhere. Don’t wait for quiet time to get to know your Savior.
- An overcommitted schedule doesn’t dictate my mood and attitude.
- It’s ok if people don’t always understand or agree with my choices.
What area in your life are you chasing the rainbow of perfection? Where are you feeling battle weary and needing to trade in your weapons of try-harder, do-better for one of surrender?
That’s why this blog exists. It’s a reminder that in this unraveling life, we can grow to believe and trust in God’s abounding grace. Unraveling is imperfect by nature. It’s messy. Grace is perfectly timed and measured for each of us in our unraveling. Thank you for the emails, likes, and blog shares! It’s awesome to know we’re journeying together!