God has really been dealing with me lately on my perfectionism. I have always been a perfectionist. As a kid I liked my room to be neat and organized and my schoolwork to be perfectly in order. I always turned my work in on time and was driven to make perfect straight A’s. My goal in high school was to be in the top 10% of my graduating class, and I achieved that goal. I wanted to be the best at everything I put my hand to.
This tendency toward perfectionism has carried over into my adult life, and, as much as possible, I like my physical surroundings to be neat and in order. Granted, it has been a little difficult with five children, but I found it is achievable if I work hard enough at it. I clean and organize the house once a week, even if it kills me. I do laundry every day because I like it to be done and put away every evening. I’m a stickler for clean rooms as my kids will testify to.
But God has been revealing to me recently that this perfectionistic tendency does not just consist of my desire for my physical surroundings to be in order, but extends to all aspects of my life…especially in my relationships with other people and with the Lord. I never really considered the fact that my perfectionism was a hindrance to me, but He has revealed to me through various circumstances recently that I have a deep desire for everything in my life to look and be perfect. When a friend is offended by something I have done, I am crushed because I let them down and I have a desire for my relationships to be perfect. When my kid is disrepectful and disobedient, I am crushed because I want my kids to be perfectly behaved children. When my husband is upset with me because of something stupid I said, I am crushed because I want him, above all others, to be happy with me. When I feel like I have disappointed the Lord in some way, I am totally crushed and feel like the worst person in the world.
I have realized that this is a very unhealthy way of living. It’s like living on a roller coaster. When something unsettling happens in one of my relationships, I am down and depressed, but when everyone is happy with me, I am happy. It’s definitely not the way I want to live, and praise be to God that He is releasing me from that prison of perfectionism. I am learning that relationships with people are often messy. One of the scriptures that the Lord has highlighted to me is Proverbs 14:4, “Where no oxen are, the crib is clean; but much increase is by the strength of the ox.” When we are in relationship with people, things get messy, but much personal growth comes about because of those relationships and learning to deal with conflict in healthy ways.
Another thing He revealed to me is that my perfectionism is really just a grasping after some semblance of control. When I can learn to stop trying to control everything, I will truly be free…free of my own unrealistic expectations of myself and others. God loves me just as I am, and He knows I am perfectly imperfect. My only goal in life is to seek after the only perfect One, and allow Him to do His perfect work in my life, to mold me and make me more into His image.
Philippians 3:12, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.”