Last night I made two good catches during my softball game. However both of them were immediately followed by making bad throws, and missing opportunities for double outs. My team mates told me what great plays I made. I couldn’t enjoy their complements because each out was followed by a mistake. I refused to accept that I had done well, because I hadn’t done perfectly well.
Perfectionism is a struggle which pours over into other areas of my life as well. I do many things well as a parent, but those are often eclipsed in the glaring light of my failures. The same is true in my marriage. I do really well, and then I screw it up. I am constantly placing myself on trial and evaluating every mistake. I’m constantly trying to change to be a better mom, wife, housekeeper, leader, ballplayer and so on. In my mind I am never good enough, because there are always mistakes. This morning I realized my goal is perfection, and it will always be out of reach. I will always remain a failure as long as perfection is my goal. Discouragement may eventually prevent me from even trying anymore, because I can never do it good enough.
The area of my life most negatively impacted by perfectionism is my spiritual walk. I constantly fail, and have a check list of all the things I do wrong everyday. I love God and I want to do everything right, but I can’t do it. Everyday, I lose my temper or say something I shouldn’t. I want to be perfect.
God knows I have weaknesses and areas of repeated sin. As much as I want to be perfect I have to accept myself with these failures. By striving to be perfect I am deceived into thinking God’s love for me is based on my behavior, but it is not. His love for me is based on grace. I must believe that he accepts me the way I am and accept myself in order to experience grace.
I need to bask in his grace in the midst of my failure in order to have the peace and thankfulness that comes with unconditional love and unmerited favor. I must accept myself, let go of striving and wait for God to change me.
Change does not come through struggle, human effort without God, frustration, self-hatred, self-rejection, guilt or works of the flesh. Change in our lives comes as a result of having our minds renewed by the Word of God. As we agree with God and really believe that what He says is true, it gradually begins to manifest itself in us. We begin to think differently, then we begin to talk differently, and finally we begin to act differently. This is a process that develops in stages, and we must always remember that while it is taking place we can still have the attitude, “I’m OK, and I’m on my way!” Enjoy yourself while you are changing. Enjoy where you are on the way to where you are going. Enjoy the journey! Don’t waste all of your ‘now time’ trying to rush in to the future. Remember tomorrow will have troubles of its own (Meyer 43).
Believing God’s love for me is unconditional and his favor undeserved is what empowers me to express love to others the way he loves me. This is my calling as a child of God, to love others and make my life count. The only thing that matters is faith expressing itself through love (Galatians 5:6).
We can only do things we have already done perfectly. The destiny God calls each of us to is outside of our own ability. It requires us to depend on him completely. Under these circumstances he has to show up big and he will not disappoint.
My goal should be to honor God by living in freedom and walking in love. Love is characterized by acceptance, and until I extend that to myself I cannot accept others. Success may be the difference between people who can accept themselves with their failures, and those who cannot
Often we derive self-worth from our performance as well as the opinions others have of us. When my worth is affected by my performance I must strive for perfection to feel good enough. I constantly focus on my successes or failures and feel prideful or dejected. My focus is on me. When the opinions of others affect my sense of value I constantly look to others to make me feel valuable. I will be obsessed with figuring out why someone doesn’t like me, or I will get arrogant with increased popularity. My focus is on others.
Both of these focuses are incorrect and will result in insecurity, dysfunctional relationships, and spiritual emptiness. We are made to focus on God and derive our identity and self-worth through His Word. God is using the following segment of scripture to comfort me through a season of rejection.
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sigh. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. (Ephesians 1:4-8)
The creator of the universe seeks us out and fiercely pursues us with his love all our lives, because we were chosen in him before time began. We are accepted by the only One who matters and even if no one else ever accepts us God does. He has deemed us valuable enough for his son to suffer and die. He made us holy so we can enter into his presence through the blood of Christ. It doesn’t matter what our family says about us, what a preacher may say about us, our teachers, bosses, friends or enemies. It doesn’t matter if no one thinks we are important. God wants to spend time with us, and we are important to him.
According to Ephesians 1:4-8, I am chosen, holy and blameless, adopted, redeemed, and forgiven. God freely gives me blessings, grace (unmerited favor), wisdom and understanding. It doesn’t matter how many times I fail, or what people think of me. God’s word is truth. It is eternal and will stand when all else fades. My self-worth comes from my eternal father. I was made in his image to reflect his glory. I am his, and I am valuable with my imperfections.
1. Meyer, Joyce. How to Succeed at Being Yourself. Tulsa, OK: Harrison House, 1999.