Although most of us would never admit it, inside of us is a deeply rooted desire to be perfect. How often is perfection discussed, written about, or brought up in everyday conversation? The results may astonish you. According to our friend google, about 1,830,000,000 results. It turns out, I’m not the only one with an obsession.
We want to marry the perfect spouse. Have the perfect kiddos. Keep the perfect house. And be in perfect health.
Don’t think you do?
What is the biggest topic amongst your friends? What comes up repeatedly in your Bible study? What is your biggest complaint? I have a sneaky suspicion it revolves around all the ways your life isn’t perfect. It probably has something to do with how you feel stressed out, disappointed, exhausted, or downright hopeless. How your life isn’t as good as you think it should be.
Your husband is driving you crazy because he isn’t spending enough time at home. Your kids are going bonkers because they aren’t obeying your rules. You have to go visit the doctor because you are not feeling well. You hate to visit the mailbox because of another late bill.
And if that’s not enough, try attending a little league baseball game or high school competition of sorts. You are going to see the ugly side of someone coming out. It is a guarantee. Spend some time on the sidelines. It’s not the prettiest sight. A parent goes ballistic because the referee called the third “strike” on their next mega-superstar child. A coach gets a beat down because “clearly the most talented child on the team” did not get enough playing time. Or, a mother inhales a box of kleenex like nobody’s business because her daughter was not named the captain of the cheerleading squad.
Let’s be real here.
We all want to win.
But winning isn’t the heart of the matter. Let’s dig a little bit deeper here. It’s not just about having the nice car, the big house, the dream vacation, and the beautiful, intelligent, athletic, and gifted child. No, it’s all about having more than the girl next door. It’s about beating them out. What we really want (but would never confess) is having the nicer car, the bigger house, the dreamiest vacation, and the beautifull-er, intellgent-er, athletic-er, and gifted-er child. Funny, we treat life much like a competition.
We base our self-worth on how we compare.
If we’re not careful, perfectionism can sneak its way into our lives. Luring us onto the hamster wheel. Telling us to try a little harder. Do a little more.
We meddle in the lives of our kids. Guising our actions. Wanting everything to turn out just right.
We make out our hubby “to do” lists, secretly hoping he will go one step more. Like buy us flowers and candy. Okay, an extravagant vacation would be alright too.
We walk through the check-out lane and the latest headlines cannot help but catch our eye. Lose 10 pounds in 10 days. How to skinny up those abs.
And suddenly…we become disheartened. Depressed. Heading straight towards the chocolate bon-bon aisle.
Because we know deep inside that our lives are not perfect and never will be.
Expectations kill. They shatter relationships. They destroy our self-esteem. They crush our hopes and dreams. We have been brainwashed by perfectionism and maybe it’s time for some of us to take a chill pill.
God’s Word tells us something different. It gives us the cure.
As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. 2 Samuel 22:31 (NIV)
God’s way is perfect. We need to keep our eyes gazed on Him. In Him, we find the answer…He is perfect and flawless. When we turn our focus upward rather than inward, our view of the world is changed. We no longer place unrealistic expectations on others and ourselves. We find our rest in Him. We no longer listen to the voice saying, “You are not good enough.” Instead, we hear God whisper, “I love you just the way you are!”
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Let it go. Let go of this idea of living the perfect life. Give yourself freedom. You don’t have to have all the toys put away and everything in perfect order. Be realistic.
How much better to play with our kids and enjoy it…rather than being stressed out about having everything all picked up, stacked perfectly, and in order.
How has perfectionism stolen your joy?