As a recovering (sigh) perfectionist, I can tell you that the desire to return to performance instead of walking in love for ourselves and others is a screaming, dancing shadow looking for sustenance.
Before beginning my recovery, the verse “Be still and know that I Am God…” (Ps 46:10) was annoying.
Interestingly, it requires much more effort to personally cover our lack of perfection than it does to be thankful for Jesus’ victory over it. As well, when you are on constant guard against mistakes…that is when you make most of them. I have hundreds of those stories.
True, we are to avoid sin, and have been given Holy Spirit as a guide to do so. But living in fear of making mistakes is, in a very real sense, the opposite of trusting God to guide us. Perfection requires life-sapping hyper-vigilance. Obedience to Holy Spirit requires a listening mind and readiness of spirit that are resting in The Lord. Readiness to change course when needed, and, most of all, readiness to allow the gifts of others to engage, to supply and to lead us in areas of our own weaknesses.
At the age of 60 plus years, I can tell you I have never met any person who has every gift of the Spirit. Never. I think God did that on purpose. No one but Jesus Christ is perfect, and we need to remember that our perfection can only come through Jesus. That is a healthy beginning to humility and righteousness. Our righteousness comes from Jesus, and that should make us humble.
Perfection turns us into liars by lying repeatedly until we start to believe it. We begin to embrace the fact that we are imperfect instead of embracing the fact that our God is not, and so leaning in to His Mercy and direction.
I was in the military in my youth. Part of the training of a warrior is to teach them to run into the fray, even though it may well mean death…when others are running away. Perfection is its own kind of death – a long, drawn out, torturous suicide that saves no one. Humility runs to save others. Perfection is the saving of one’s self, sometimes at the expense of others. We begin to idolize ourselves in our quest to please the masses. At the very least, perfection keeps us from displaying to others the Glory of our Savior, as perfect people don’t really need a savior, either spiritually or physically. It is a lonely place.
Single parents know these battles well. After all, if you don’t do it, who will?! As a single parent for about 20 years, I became so good at spinning multiple plates all day, every day, that I didn’t know what life without the struggle was like. It was my reality, and my task master. I get it. My release valve was another Christian single mom. We used to meet at Wendy’s, get 2 things each from the dollar menu, and sit there for 2 hours debriefing so we could go home and be decent moms again. The pressure of perfectionism must be released, or you explode.
Same with work, with marriage, with a road trip (are we there yet?!) or whatever else you want to throw in the milieu of life.
Just don’t EMBRACE the lie! Lean on God’s Word, on Holy Spirit, and on each other. Look for good charactered people with the gifts needed to accomplish goals and partner with them for the ride. Let them shine in those areas and you sit back. Be thankful someone else is doing the job, and practice encouragement.
Look perfection in the face and tell it to “talk to the hand.” Stop feeding it. You might even have to pinch its nose shut…
March 20, 2021