I can admit it. I am a perfectionist. And it isn’t a good thing. I am trying to rise above it, to break free from it. One of my personal goals in writing a blog was to put myself out there, open and honest, unfiltered. And yet, I use the rusted, dented filter of perfectionism to slow me down and prevent me from putting out all of my thoughts. I am so worried about creating the “perfect” post that I am overly filtering my thoughts and feelings, and in trying to create something perfect, I am stunted in my creation of anything. I want to find the right words, create the exact feeling, be perfect in my writing. So it holds me back, hinders me from expressing the true-ness, the authenticity, of my emotions, my thoughts, my deepest, darkest places.
I know that the lens of perfectionism warps everything that I do, everything I say. I am that girl who analyzes everything said after a conversation, wishing I had said or done x, y and z, never happy or satisfied with what occurred. This is especially so in conversations (i.e. arguments) that don’t go in my favor. I manipulate the entire thing in my head, just wishing I would have said the thoughts that occur to me long after the conversation is over. I go back over past writings and think “why did I write that? oh, look, that comma doesn’t belong there. That was a stupid thing to say” and so on, and so on. In everything I do, I am critical. Even when I am happy and satisfied with something, the happiness doesn’t last. Sometimes within hours, sometimes days, but always, eventually, I will find a flaw, find an error, and it will haunt me. Frustrate me.
I was just at a marriage retreat with my husband, and part of what we did was take a personality inventory. It wasn’t the first time I’d taken the Meyers-Briggs, so I was familiar with it. We did, however, go over it in more depth than I ever have before and how it relates in our communication and relationships with others. It was incredibly helpful and eye-opening. It did make me chuckle when looking at a sheet that had some tongue-in-cheek prayers for each personality type. Mine read “Lord, allow me to be released of my perfectionism. (Wait, did I spell that right?)” Yep, spot-on. It also made me realize the extent in which my personality really does influence how it is that I interact with the world around me, and how that is played out in this tendency to perfectionism.
Sometimes, especially in our culture, it is hard to see that perfectionism is, indeed, a flaw and not a desirable trait to succumb to. It is part of our prideful, sinful nature. In a culture that rewards perfection, that desires it, that does everything possible to “create” perfection…especially visually…calling perfectionism less than desirable is counter-cultural. We were created to crave perfection, but not of this world. We were created to crave the perfect One, the Creator. To crave that perfect union with Him. That craving, that desire, however, has been twisted, warped from its original intention. We think, in all of our broken human-ness, that we are the ones who can create perfection, the ones who can be perfect. And it breaks us down, causes us to stumble because we KNOW, in our most inner places, that we can never be perfect, never achieve that which we fully desire. There is a hole within us that cannot be filled. Those cravings can only be satisfied by the perfect One, through His perfect love. And still we ache, still we strive, trying to achieve that which we can never be…
Do I have any answers to cure this disease of perfectionism? Ha, I wish! The only thing I know to do is to give it to the Perfect One. Offer it up, pray for peace, and continue to press on, muddling through, doing this thing called life, and offering each and every moment up to the Father, asking for His blessings, His guidance, His redemption. Allowing Him to come beside me and be a part of the process. Practicing gratitude has helped, giving thanks in the small and ordinary, as well as the extraordinary and significant. Being still, allowing Him to speak to me, listening to His voice in the deep quiet has also allowed me moments of rest, moments when the striving ceases.
This knowledge that I have that I am more prone to be a perfectionist doesn’t change who I am at my core, but it does give me an awareness to know that I may fall, that I may give in to its pull. Part of my journey, part of my path now, is to fight against it. I need to allow myself freedom in my thoughts, my words. I need to pour out that which is inside, rather than worrying about what the world around me thinks. My intention needs to lie in snapping that filter of perfectionism in half, crushing it under my heel. And I know that I can only do that through Christ, through His loving mercy and redemption.
There is nothing that I can do but rest in His perfection.