Her eyes scanned the room, internally berating herself for everything she saw. Ugh, why can’t my house ever be clean! I just wanted to make things nice and just look how that project turned out. I wish I could decorate like all those people on Instagram. I just don’t have skills. I mean, everything I try and plan just turns out crappy. I am the worst________. (she could use the freedom of imperfection!)
Jeesh, she is being pretty hard on herself, isn’t she?
Yet, I bet on some level, we can all relate to her feelings. Because we want to give good things to those we love; we want to nest in a way that feels like sanctuary in our home; we want to create beauty on some level; we want to feel like we too, sometimes, could maybe (if we are really, really honest) be someone that people appreciate what we do.
In our homes, in our celebration plans, the way our kids behave, etc. The list of things we want to do well goes on and on. However, doing things well and only accepting a perceived level of perfection are two very different goals.
One leaves us a sense of satisfaction and enjoyment. The other, leaves us feeling like a failure. Unable to feel contentment in our efforts.
When we strive to make our world “perfect” we only set ourselves up for disappointment.
A doable “pretty good” beats an unattainable “perfect
Listen to this definition of a perfectionist…
“I do not mean the healthy pursuit of excellence by men and women who take genuine pleasure in striving to meet high standards. Without concern for quality, life would seem shallow; true accomplishment would be rare. The perfectionists I am talking about are those whose standards are high beyond reach or reason, people who strain compulsively and unremittingly toward impossible goals and who measure their self-worth entirely in terms of productivity and accomplishment”- Dr. David Burns
Truth is, we need to combat lies.We need to come at them hard, and train ourselves to let go of perfect (which isn't really possible anyway), and start enjoying the freedom of imperfection. Click To Tweet
Examine each lie and determine to tell yourself the truth.
Changing our thought patterns is where we put the “recovering” in front of “perfectionist”. It is a process, but one of the most powerful ones we can spend our time investing in.
Philippians 4:8 And now, brothers, as I close this letter, let me say this one more thing: Fix your thoughts on what is true and good and right. Think about things that are pure and lovely, and dwell on the fine, good things in others. Think about all you can praise God for and be glad about.
How to enjoy the freedom of imperfection
Let’s practice with the woman’s woes at the beginning of this article, and replace some of her lies:
Ugh, why can’t my house ever be clean! ( I am thankful for the areas I DID get picked up today. This is so much better than it was, tomorrow I’ll do one more job)
I just wanted to make things nice and just look how that project turned out. ( For my first attempt, that turned out pretty good! It takes so much practice to become a master, I am content with my efforts, and I had fun doing it)
I wish I could decorate like all those people on Instagram. (I sure enjoy the inspiration on Instagram, and refuse to compare myself to the people trying to encourage me. They are gifted in ____ area, and I am grateful to be gifted in mine. There is no “better” skill)
I just don’t have skills. I mean, everything I try and plan just turns out crappy. ( Hmm, am I being a bit dramatic here? Have I “no” skills? First of all, that simply isn’t true, I am great at _____. Everything I do definitely does NOT turn out crappy. If something flopped, toss it out. I will determine to enjoy the process and not base my worth on the outcome)
I am the worst________. (Yeah about that, no. Not true. We are not the worst. This is the biggest lie we are tempted to believe. Are we the best? Maybe not…and that is more than okay! Refuse to generalize all of what we do into things that might not be our greatest. So what? There is so much we excel at. We are just used to, sadly, training ourselves to see the faults in ourselves. No more. This is why retraining our thoughts requires practice. But is IS possible, in fact, promised)
Romans 12:2a Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Prayer for the recovering perfectionist
Would you like to download a copy of this prayer? Click here to print one off.
Friends, we ALL have so much to offer. Perfectionism has no place in our lives. Seek instead, the pursuit of doing well, and accepting the outcomes. Determine to find delight in efforts made, celebrate the gifts of others, and be content in our ability. Enjoy the freedom of imperfection.
Especially relevant…it doesn’t mean we can’t stretch and grow and become…
Instead, it means that we are enough right now.