I am a recovering perfectionist, paired with a lifelong struggle of laziness. So, we'll call it "undisciplined perfectionism." Basically, it means that if I am going to do something, I want to do it extremely well or not at all. And the fear of not having a perfect result has often held me back from even taking the first step. But things like fear, laziness, and even perfection are not supposed to be part of the abundant life God has for me.
Thus, the "recovering." Although this has been an ongoing process for years since I chose to follow Christ, ridding my heart of this desire for perfection has been in high gear lately. Last year I recognized that I was spreading myself too thin. In other words, we had two babies, I was pregnant with a third, and I was still trying to keep up with life as it was before any kids. When I mixed my perfectionist attitude with my slipping ability to juggle all my responsibilities well (throw in an unhealthy dash of comparison to people who looked like they were handling life way better than me), I had a big batch of failure and disappointment. Even worse, I was projecting my perfectionist standards onto the people around me too, and although I rarely confronted anyone about it, I let their shortcomings silently add to the weight on my shoulders.
Since then I made some tangible changes to my schedule and responsibilities. More importantly though, I began asking God to help make some changes in my heart. To make room for spontaneity and detours. To take a breath instead of stress when my plans melt into a pile of toddler tears (or worse). To love myself and accept his love just as I am, even with my mistakes and shortcomings.
It has never been about how much I can or can't get done. It's about embracing the grace and mercy that God offers me daily instead of arrogantly scolding myself for never reaching an impossible goal. I still want to do things with excellence, and I haven't given up applying myself to a task. Christ is forming me into someone who can humbly admit a mistake, forgive a mistake, and bravely try new things he calls me to even if it's hard or messy or I don't get it right the very first time. Ironically, being honest about all the ways I'm not perfect has made me feel better about who I am, not worse.
"And He has said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.' Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me" (2 Corinthians 12:9, NASB).
Read the original blog post here.
Danielle King is web administrator at Eastern Hills Wesleyan Church in Williamsville, N.Y.