We know that there’s nothing we can do to earn or buy our salvation. It is a free gift of God made possible by grace alone. After we are saved by grace, we may find that living in grace has a big learning curve. Growing up in a society where our worth is often gauged by how well we perform can make living in grace a challenge. Perfectionism is trying to prove self-worth by being perfect. If you have a voice in your head that constantly makes you feel that you fail in most of your efforts, you may be a perfectionist, or at least plagued with perfectionism. Some people don’t move forward in life because they are waiting for the circumstances to be just right. Perfectionism will stall and neutralize your initiative. You may be afraid to move forward because all the pieces aren’t perfectly in place. Perfectionists expect a lot of themselves, but also a lot from those around them. A critical view of others and their performance will sabotage your relationships. No one likes to be told that they are constantly lacking. Nagging turns others away. Perfectionism can also steal your happiness. When you feel that there’s a big gap between the person you want to be and the person you are, you’ll be unhappy feeling there’s something wrong with you because you always fall short. God’s grace accepts us where we are. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect. No one is, and we won’t be. God can help us live in grace and cast off the tendency to chase a mirage of perfectionism, that constantly alludes us.
Scriptures – Ps 119:96; Pr 14:30, 17:9; Ec 7:16, 20, 11:4; Is 55:9; Mt 11:28-29; Ro 8:31; Ga 3:3; Ep 2:8; Ph 4:11; Col 2:6; 1 Pt 5:7; 1 Jn 3:1
You began your life in Christ with the Spirit. Now do you try to complete it by your own power? That is foolish. (Ga 3:3) There is no one on earth who does what is right all the time and never makes a mistake. (Ec 7:20) So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him… (Col 2:6) “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace….” (Mt 11:28-29)
In order to unlearn perfectionism, you need a new perspective. Sounds good, right? But how? Realize that no one is perfect. Look around; it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? God is interested in your growth, but he loves you as you are, imperfect, a work in progress. He’s patient as a parent is with a growing child. Toddlers frequently fall, bump their heads, get skinned knees. Parents don’t yell at them and try to figure out what’s wrong with them, they pick them up, kiss their boo boos, and encourage them to give it another try. That’s how God loves you and has patience as you mature. Cast your cares on Him. (1 Pt 5:7) Yield to God’s control. When you cast your cares on Him you relinquish your control (control that you really don’t have anyway). God is able, and you are not. Giving him your anxiety takes the pressure off. Life is filled with problems, but when you give them to God, you can have joy and peace in the midst of your circumstances. When you start living in grace, you can truly begin to enjoy life. Recognize that you are a child of God. Romans 8:31 says, if God is for us, who can be against us? Remember God is for you!
Do you tend to see what’s wrong with things rather than what’s right? Do you ever feel frustrated with God because you think His expectations are unreasonable? Are there areas of your life where you constantly feel you fall short? Explain. How did your childhood affect your self-worth? Are you a perfectionist? Explain. What’s the opposite of perfectionism? Where is the happy middle between having unreal expectations and no expectations? How can we strive to be who God wants us to be without feeling we fall short of the mark?
Talk with a trusted Christian friend. Ask them to give you honest feedback regarding the expectations you place on yourself. Discuss how you feel about your daily walk with Christ. Do you always feel you fall short or do you live each day trying to serve God, without beating yourself up for your failures?
Dear God, help me to live each day with the realization that I am your child. Help me to rest in your love and grace, as I journey toward that day when I will be perfect when I’m home with you. Thank you for loving me as a father and freely forgiving, encouraging and supporting me. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.