You know what?Â I am NOT perfect. Surprise!Â Yet, one of my personal struggles is with the character defect of perfectionism. I could even go so far to say that it is a sin, but I don’t know that I chose so much to act this way as it is a natural bent that has plagued my Type A, constantly pushing for the best, way of doing things.
Either way I see it as both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand I can say that this perfectionism has given me the “eye” for detail. I can generally tell with a quick glance if something is amiss, awry or off-kilter. This especially comes in handy when I am rendering a drawing or painting that is realistic. It also gives those I work for the assurance that I am going to give great attention to the accuracy and detail of a job. I am by nature highly motivated, driven to do the best I can, and determined to see a task through to the end.
So what’s the downside? I am the most critical of my own work. It was so bad when I was younger that I couldn’t keep any of my own paintings because I would look at it and see something that was a bit off or could have been done better. As a runner, I would always strive to go further, go faster. As a daughter, wife or friend I would do everything to be the “best”.Â Oh, I was what some would call an overachiever, a competitor that didn’t know when to quit. Why? Because, I felt that my best was NEVER good enough.
It was in college, working for the Department of Graphic Communications Chair (he was also a perfectionist) that I learned a bit of a trick in fighting this troubling trait. He told me, “If the client likes it, it is good enough.”Â Never mind that you think it would be better this way, in these colors or whatever. If my job is to produce a piece that the client likes, then the moment he says “that’s good,” it IS good. Period.
Wow!Â What a revelation. Just by proclaiming something good, it IS good. There really is such a thing as “Good Enough”.Â What a concept.
As I am currently struggling with some physical challenges right now, I have been forced to look at the increased frustrations and disappointment associated with the realization that I simply cannot do what “normal” people can expect to do. Nor, even, what I could do myself in years previous. I am starting to have those thoughts of not measuring up. Maybe those who used to love me will tire of me and discard me as “a problem” or “broken” and unable to be “fixed”.
However, these are feelings that I cannot trust. These feelings would have me believe that I am what I do; that it is my performance that determines my worth. You know what I am learning? (Not that I have attained a full working degree of mastery here, yet).Â I am learning that these thoughts based on feeling are untrustworthy. Lies!
My value really is not based on what I can or cannot do. It is not based on quotas of projects completed, grades, money earned or invested. It is not based on if my hair is styled just so, or if I am wearing the latest clothing fashion. My value is not even determined on if my husband or child is pleased with my cooking or even if they are angry with me.
No. None of that is the real basis of my value. What I believe to be true as I study my Bible (if only my feelings would grasp that truth more) is that my value comes not from what I DO, or to what degree of perfection I perform, but from WHOSE I am.
I believe wholeheartedly in the Truth of God’s Word which declares I am a child of God. He loved me even when I was at my all time, absolute, disgustingly worst. When I came to acknowledge my absolute inability to even approach anywhere near a degree of perfection when it came to dealing with such an awesome and Holy God, I all but melted away.
It was then, at my most imperfect, that God lifted my face to look into His. He invited my broken spirit to be mended by His Holy Spirit.Â He let the love of Jesus Christ do the perfecting for me. WOW!!
Right now, as I struggle related to chronic pain, fatigue and even Foreign Accent Syndrome I must face the fact that these are major hurdles that are guaranteed to keep me from normal goals of excellence. In working with these difficultiesÂ I am finding that nasty old bent toward perfectionism rearing it’s ugly head again. This time, thanks to God’s promises which sustain me, I am learning to say, “Yes. I am a failure. Yes, I have messed up. Yes, I cannot do this under my own power.”
These very thoughts that in the past were used to try to depress me to the point of being totally ineffective are now the very same thoughts that I can accept and answer. “Though each one of those accusations is true. All those imperfections are present in me…but..’I AM doing my best. And (here is the real gem)… GOD LOVES ME ANYWAY!”
This really is too wonderful for me to understand. It is not by denying my failures, or pretending they do not exist, that I find peace. Rather, it is by embracing the fact that it is despite my imperfections that I can enjoy the bliss of perfect love and acceptance of my Blessed Savior.Â SELAH.
Do you know this peace too? It really is perfect.