Combatting Perfectionism

What would you do with your life if you knew there was no chance you could fail?

I’ve heard this question numerous times throughout my life and pondered it deeply. But it all came down to my own definition of failure. Was failure losing everything that I’ve worked for, such as finances, relationships, and my pride? Or was failure simply missing the mark? Not landing exactly where I had envisioned I’d be in the long run, not accomplishing all that I had set out to do? Not getting the “perfect” outcome that I had wanted?

“Perfect” has held me back more than I can even imagine in my life. It’s tripped me up in the practice pen in my youth rodeo days. It’s stopped me from having fun with friends because I’ve got a ginormous zit on my face and my self-esteem was low. And it’s held me up from writing what’s on my heart to share with the world because I feel like my words won’t be good enough.

My version of perfect is that feeling that whatever I do won’t be as good as someone else could do it, so why even try? It slows me down, piles down on my shoulders and eventually stops me from moving forward at all. You could call it, “fear of failure,” but to me, “fear of not being perfect,” actually describes it adequately. It’s a mindset, a perfectionist mindset, and it will kill more dreams and visions than anything in this world. I believe down at the core, it has to do with me believing that I’m not truly good enough to be loved by a perfect God. In believing this lie, I could spend my life starting and quitting everything that God has called me to do, because if I quit early maybe I won’t disappoint Him.

Am I alone?

Have you ever felt that way?

Let me share something with you that I’ve finally settled in my heart…”perfect” is a lie. It’s a myth. It’s an excuse that I’ve made up in my head to allow leniency in my work because if it’s not perfect, why finish it? Even writing this blog post, I fear that I will not convey my thoughts perfectly regarding the achievement of perfection. It’s craziness!

His grace is sufficient.

The Apostle Paul knew this all too well. In 2 Corinthians 12:7 he speaks of a thorn in his flesh that was sent to harass him, not by God but by the enemy. After pleading with God for Him to remove it, God answered, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” My favorite translation, the Passion Translation says it so beautifully, “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness.”

We were not created to be perfect robots. We were created as relational human beings. A creation created by a perfect God who’s greatest reason for creating us was to love us and to be loved by us. Love is not love unless there is a choice and by choosing to love God and be fully loved by Him we get to walk into a relationship that will make us whole. By creating us with this choice we were free to make mistakes, fail, fall, have emotions and ultimately learn to accept His love that can in spite of our shortcomings make us strong, help us conquer and guide us into our calling. We can become the fullness of who God created us to be by walking in close relationship with Him.

The sermon that I’m preaching to myself, is that to do anything great is to risk the perception of perfection. I heard one of my favorite ministers, Pastor Steven Furtick say, “No mess, No ministry!” Without the mess and the muck, relationships with other people are not built as strong and without the hardships that don’t play out to our perfect expectations, do we really even know how to trust God?

Tools in my toolbox.

With the New Year quickly approaching, I’ve made up my mind to let go of resolutions and instead put in place a few disciplines to combat the complacency that my perfection mindset breeds.

  1. Commit to doing something creative each day for at least one hour. For me, it’s writing. Whether it’s for this blog, journaling or writing a letter to a friend. For you it may be painting, photography, writing a poem or even creating a piece of jewelry. I believe that getting creative helps us to see the beauty in our imperfections. It’s the unique way God created us being put to work through our hands.

  2. Get quiet with God and see what He has to say about me. This world will always try to impose its will on our lives whether it’s through social media, the news or just our personal relationships, but when we know what our Papa God says about us and we feel His constant love towards us, it enables us to stay on His path.

  3. Get moving. Everyday we should be moving our bodies. This makes our hearts stronger, helps to regulate hormones and increases endorphins. Are you struggling with depression, go for a run. Are you struggling in a relationship, lift some weights. Are you having a creative block in your mind, take a workout class at the gym. Our bodies were not created for a sedentary life. I truly believe that if every person could grasp how crucial it is to sweat daily, we would be in such a better place in society. Don’t fall in love with working out to just look good, that motivation is misplaced. Fall in love with exercise because of how it makes you feel. And don’t just take a leisurely walk and get your steps in for the day, work hard! Push yourself, make yourself uncomfortable and do it everyday!

  4. And finally…read! Read memoirs about people in our past who failed hard, but got up and succeeded. Learn from their lives. Read about the area you live in. The history of the people who built it, the wild life right out your front door. It will help connect you with the outside world and give you the confidence to go and explore it. And read your Bible. Learn from the source that will teach you about the greatest love story ever written.

Daughter, God has called you out of the muck and the mire of your past and He has set you on a solid rock that rises above the shifting winds and blowing sands of this world that you live in. On this solid rock, your gaze is able to pierce through obscurities of all that society deems worthy and important and you’re able to see what He sees…what He says is important. His ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts but His heart is near to us at all times and is easy to understand when you get to know Him. And when you get to know Him, you realize that He is good. He is wild, but He is good beyond measure. Learn to trust in Him in your hills and valleys. Let His strength overcome your weaknesses. Learn to love what He loves and hate what He hates. Don’t sit in idleness, step out and faith and give God something to work with even if it isn’t perfect!