37 The MonsterPosted: October 7, 2012
Perfectionism is a monster. Extreme words, yet well deserved. Perfectionism saps our life. Perfectionism kills hopes and dreams. It tears down faith, replacing it with doubt and fear. Perfectionism promises to help us yet leads us to hesitate at every decision. It demands us to agonize and worrying over small things only to find later they weren’t such a big deal.
Perfectionism tells us we can earn the love and approval we so desperately crave. If we follow the right rules we will be successful. It entices us with an illusion of control. It deceives us into believing; if we just come up with the right plan and work hard enough our future will be bright and glorious. It then it robs us of time and energy without delivering on its promises. Perfectionism promises order and an illusion of peace and delivers frustration and regret. Perfectionism says if we live right, do what we are supposed to do when we are supposed to do it, then we be rewarded. When we aren’t we conclude that we did something wrong.
The truth is we cannot ever live “right enough”. The standard will keep on rising. In our striving and competition we will keep finding others who are better, stronger and faster than we are. We find ourselves outperformed. We feel defeated.
I lived with perfectionism most of my life. In childhood, I did not have a grasp that Jesus was my Savior while I was trying to make Him Lord. I sought to serve Him with no apparent success. I craved joy and peace of which I experienced very little. I figured that was because I didn’t love God and others as I should. I would try really hard but ended up feeling angry at others and then at myself for being angry at others. I couldn’t measure up. I felt like a failure.
Fast forward three decades. When I would feel sick, my wife encouraged me to take a day off so as to recuperate. “But I’m not that sick,” I would say while wondering if I was sick enough to take the day off. She would plead with me saying, “You need to take the day off so you can get better.” I would go to work anyway, coughing and sneezing, with a dripping nose and say, “I don’t feel so bad.” I took three handkerchiefs with me and found I needed another. Upon waking up one morning I was so sick that I worried I wouldn’t make it through a workday. I didn’t even want to get up to go to the restroom, much less go to work! I made the call. My boss said, “Hope you get to feeling better.” I hung up the phone. Relief swept through my body! I actually took the day off! I thought, “How bad do I need to feel to call in sick?”
Life does not need to be like this. We can find freedom from perfectionism, stop agreeing with its lies and let go of it. We need not to be so harsh on ourselves and learn that new ways of thinking and acting take time. Jesus offers authentic hope. Ask God for help and He’ll show the way
Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. Matthew 11:28-30
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