I’m a perfectionist. There I said it. Do you need to say it too? Granted I’m not a perfectionist in all areas, but in the ones I am - watch out. I know doing a job and doing it well are important and are good things, but striving for perfection can create problems.
It’s easy to see this in my children. There perfectionism can create anxiety and lead to feelings of never being good enough. This desire to be perfect affects their attitudes and impacts relationships. It can lead to tears and sometimes drives me crazy.
Yesterday I found myself looking in the mirror as I was the one dealing with the frustration our endless striving for perfectionism creates. I’m working on a Bible study and as the deadline nears, my desire for perfection seems to increase. I’ve read and re-read my manuscript countless times. Friends I trust and respect have read it as well. Changes have occurred and improvements have been made, but my work continues.
The other day I told my husband, “The more I work on it, the more it seems I find to do.” Those words left my mouth and I realized my focus had shifted. I was concentrating on what I could do instead of trusting God to do what only He can do.
I think I may have forgot Paul’s words about God’s grace being sufficient. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 we read, "My (God's) power is perfected in weakness." Think about that statement for a minute. Do you have weak areas? Do you ever strive to perfect them? Or use your strengths to try and negate them? Friend, God not only knows our weaknesses, His power is perfected in them.
This is no reason to sluff off and do the bare minimum, but it can and should encourage us to let go of the idea of perfectionism.
The other day while doing our daily Bible reading, I came across Psalm 119:96. I read the words and stopped to jot down the reference. Later that day I wrote it in my journal - "To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless."
This morning I was stressed about my upcoming deadline and God convicted me of my striving for perfectionism. As He did I recalled this verse. I opened my Bible and read it again. As humans we have limits - there are things we can't do and mistakes we will make. God on the other hand is perfect and His commands have no limits. We have timelines to deal with and deadlines to meet, God holds time in His hands and waits on no man.
What a contrast between my Father and me. Today instead of striving to get everything just right, I'm attempting to surrender and trust the One who is perfect. I'm asking Him to lead me, to fill me with His Spirit, equip me through His Word and help me rest in His promises. Will you do the same?
Friend, God doesn't ask us to be perfect in our performance, but He does command us to "be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48) This is an internal perfection that leads to external results. It's who God is and who we are trying to become. This process of perfection won't happen over night, so we must persevere. As we do, we may make mistakes, but He can help us learn. New opportunities will arise and improvements will be made. I encourage you to shift your focus from what you need to do and take a little time to remember what He has done. God has worked through imperfect people before, chances are He can do it again!!
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the truth of Your Word. Continue to sanctify and perfect me with it and through it. Keep making me more like You. Help me let go of striving for perfection. I want to do a good job for you, but sometimes that desire to do my best does more harm than good. Fill me with Your Spirit and renew me with Your Word, so I can press on and work with You to do all You call me to do. Help me obey and then trust You with the results. Father God, thank you for choosing me and using me. May Your power shine through my weaknesses and may I never forget that Your grace is sufficient. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.