I’ve been reading in Sarah Young’s newest devotional, Jesus Today. It’s a devotional for difficult and challenging times, which let’s be honest, could just about fit any season of our lives.
Summer came in for me this year a little anxious. I’m suppose to be relaxed and taking it easy but I was stressed and anxious with so much that needed to be done.
I am a recovering perfectionist. I’m not too thrilled about that, but a lot has gone into making me this way. Not just DNA, but also some early trauma in life served to wire this need within me for things to go “right”. I’ve come a long way baby, but it is definitely a thorn in my flesh- a place where I come to Jesus day after day.
I suppose that’s the point of a thorn after all.
The thing about a perfectionist is this: failure is not an option.
The thought of it is paralyzing. Perfectionists are not always people with OCD tendencies, a house all neat and orderly. Cabinets organized alphabetically, not a sign of stacks of paperwork anywhere. They can be disorderly, messy, and discombobulated. Sometimes a perfectionist doesn’t even try because they know they cannot do a task perfectly and they can’t make it stay perfect if they do.
They fear failure so they don’t even begin.
One morning, I found this quote waiting for me in Jesus Today, as I sipped a steaming cup of tea.
“I know that you will sometimes fail in this venture. But I continue to love you perfectly even when you don’t succeed.”
You mean, God knows I’m going to fail? And He’s not wringing His hands over that?
“For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good, not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable gracious and pleasant) and My burden is light and easy to be borne.” Matthew 11:30 (The Amplified)
What this quote and verse said to me was that God was requiring less of me than I was requiring of myself! What pride I have to expect more from my humanity than even He does!
So much of what I am doing is unimportant I’m sure. Facebook, Instagram, social media. Trying to please everyone in my life, wanting to be seen as successful, to have something to show for my efforts. It’s all really unimportant in the grande scheme of life, but it all feels important to me at times. Important can be something I want to do or something others “need” me to do, or something I feel they “need” me to do.
How do I decipher when it’s not truly important?
What is my measuring stick for important?
Sometimes when I don’t get things done or I don’t succeed, I feel embarrassed (insert nasty pride again) or I feel I have let someone down. With all of these shoulda, coulda, wouldas, I can even create more anxiety by not accomplishing or succeeding in these things.
The truth is that most of us have standards higher for ourselves than those who love us. If they do not offer us grace, well, that may not be completely about us. Even our perceived failures can give others a lesson in grace, and us a lesson in humility.
Our culture is trying to be God. We were not created for the capacity to get everything right, to never fail, to be perfect. To have perfect homes, lives, families, schedules. The more we acquire or take on, the more management we need to give to those things.
A simpler life is best.
We are each created with different capacities. Simple will look different for every one of us. Some are capable of producing a lot, others are not. This is God’s choice in how He designed us as individuals.
Fact is though, if I never became what the world sees as a success, but I honored God with my life, I would still bring delight to Him.
When I look at my life, it’s God who is my measuring stick of what is really important, as well as my safeguard against the fear of failure. He says,
“The steps of a [good] man are directed and established by the Lord when He delights in his way [and He busies Himself with his every step]. Though he falls, he shall not be utterly cast down, for the Lord grasps his hand in support and upholds him.” Psalm 37:23-24 (The Amplified)
If we want our lives to matter, we have to see that our lives matter to God.
We must go to Him, and ask for His help in ordering our day, our activities, our schedules. We need Him to show us what is important, and what is not. What is eternal, and what is fleeting.
It’s His grace that makes life simple. The life we want isn’t in getting it all “right,” it’s in living in His grace.
How can you relate to this post? Does perfectionism come up in areas of your life? Comments are welcome and encouragement.
Amy Brady is a new contributor to IWokeUpYesterday and you can find her on her blog over at A Journey Not My Own! Amy is passionate and shares about many things: her family, faith, food, writing, and advocacy work for adoption and sex trafficking, just to name a few.