“All in all, we suffer from the disease of perfectionism, which is the biggest obstacle to true perfection because it dries up the interior spirit, kills real faith, and makes us concentrate on ourselves instead of Jesus”
– Thomas Merton
I suppose that I am an odd sort of Perfectionist. I am not Type A. I am not obsessed with (or even all that interested in) the minutia of details that Perfectionists can languish over. I tend to see things in Big Pictures as opposed to Small Steps. However, I have struggled with Perfectionism for most of my life. And what I am only now beginning to understand is that Perfectionism presents itself to me less as a tool of measurement but more as a weapon of resistance. It is less about outcomes, than it is about keeping things from coming out.
Perfectionism is a meticulously pruned weed that is rooted in fear.
For me, if it can’t be perfect, if I can’t make it all come together how I imagine it should…I don’t do it. I avoid it. I let it sit. I leave it at 75%. And over time, the accumulation of all my “imperfect” and undone projects and ideas begins to turn on me and taunt me. They call into question whether I’m good at anything if I can’t simply finish these few “perfect” things. It can become a downward spiral if I’m not careful. And endless chasing of tails, not ever knowing what “perfection” really looks like for this or that, just knowing that I haven’t reached it yet. This is how Perfectionism slowly sedates me into “less than” living.
So I have decided once and for all to put Perfectionism to Death!
My strategy is simple – Do more imperfect things. To become increasingly more OK with things being just…OK every now and then. To Sit…Commit…and Hit Submit. To release my work and to release its results. To no longer confuse Excellence with Perfectionism. To accept that Grace isn’t just for my sins, but also for my Parenting, my Sermons, my Crazy Ideas, my Writing, my unhealthy Expectations of Myself, and my dark moments of Self-Doubt. I commit to working hard without getting worked over by my misplaced perception of perfection. So I am putting Perfection out of it’s misery!
For me to continue to live like I believe that the buck of perfection stops with me is to see both myself and God inaccurately. The persistence of Perfectionism is a resistance to Grace and Dependence. It is putting my faith in me and my ability to do what only God can do and what God always does. It’s His job to be Perfect. Not mine. And it is becoming clearer and clearer that for me to live a full life filled with Grace…I am going to have to put to death my Perfectionism.
How about you? Do you struggle with Perfectionism? Where does it reveal it’s perfectly ugly head for you? How do you combat it? What’s winning right now in your life – Grace or Perfectionism? I’d love to hear from you.