Okay I’ll admit it – I’m a perfectionist.
Some of this perfectionism I learned growing up – if I acted perfect I was praised, if I messed up, I would see my Dad’s temper. Even in grade school my classmates seemed to praise my good outfit choices and my good hair days, but then point out again and again if I had messed up my hair, my shoes, even my freckles, or my bossiness.
I learned at a very young age that the more perfect I was the more attention and love I received.
Perfection = Love
As I got older my perfectionism battle only grew harder as I became a wife and mother and realized my flaws and shortcomings were magnified by my ability to keep an entire family looking perfect. No longer did I have only myself to keep to a perfect standard, but now I had an entire house and family that needed to also be perfect.
Thanks to Pinterest and Social Media I could easily get on my phone and see what perfection should look like.
I could scroll image after image of the perfect house, the perfect outfit, the perfect hair styles, the perfect car, the perfect kids, the perfect vacations…
I would look at these images and think, “they have it all! They must be so full of happiness and love.”
Perfectionism became my way of life, and I knew that if I could just be perfect – then people would love me. I would be accepted into the “perfect people club of absolute love.” Okay I made that club name up, but still, it felt like everyone else was in this club but me.
But this is not reality friends. It all sounds crazy to me now as I type this out, but still, perfectionism is sneaky like that. It can consume you before you even realize what you’re doing.
No, thankfully I’ve learned that the true reality is that nothing can ever be absolutely perfect.
I just finished reading It’s Not Supposed to Be This Way by Lysa TerKeurst, and I took comfort in these words she wrote about our need for perfectionism and why it isn’t possible:
“Genesis tells us that the human heart was created in the perfection of the garden of Eden.” “So the human heart was created in the context of the perfection of the garden of Eden. But we don’t live there now. This is why our instincts keep firing off the lie that perfection is possible. We have pictures of perfection etched into the very DNA of our souls.”
“Why would He create our hearts in the perfection of the garden of Eden, knowing that, because of our eventual sin, we wouldn’t live there? I mean, once Adam and Eve sinned, couldn’t God strip the awareness and craving for perfection out of their hearts before he banished them from the garden? Yes, he certainly could have done this. But, to strip out the cause of our disappointment would also rob us of the glorious hope of where we’re headed.”
“We don’t live in the perfection of Eden, or the yet to come Eden-restored. Therefore, today we must understand our need to wrestle well in this space between two gardens. We must learn to live and love in the imperfect rhythms of our clunky humanity trying to stay on beat within a symphony divinity.”
As we continue our walk on this side of eternity, we will never be perfect as it was in the beginning in that first garden. Perfectionism is UNachievable in this life on Earth. However, even though we are not perfect, our Creator loves us anyway. We are loved anyway, and He wants us to set our sights on Him and where we’re headed next, to the restored garden of Eden.
So let’s take rest friends, and stop the endless task of achieving perfection in all that we do. We are loved for our imperfections. We are loved right now. We have value and worth right now.
I’m finally resting in this long battle of perfectionism. I can lay down my sword and take myself out of the fight that will never be won in this lifetime. I can have peace in the comfort that perfectionism is an unwinnable task – there is no need to try to be perfect.
Perfection does not equal love. Perfection does not equal happiness. Love and happiness are already here, right now. So relax with me friends, and let’s just be loved.