Updated: Sep 20, 2022
August 29, 2022
Just as this garden pot has cracks and chips in it, so my life has numerous imperfections. Some of the imperfections are of my own doing and choosing, and some of the imperfections are simply weaknesses in my life, areas that I do not possess great skill.
God chooses earthen vessels, as this charming yet cracked garden pot, to accomplish His will in this world. I am one of God’s vessels, and my heart’s desire is to be used for the Lord.
Yet how do I deal with all the cracks and imperfections in my life? Today I am going to share a past and often times still present struggle in my life: perfectionism.
You might be wondering what in the world perfectionism is, and you may be thinking something along the lines of, “My life is far from perfect, so how could I struggle with perfectionism?”
Most people struggle with some amount of perfectionism in at least one area of life. Perfectionism is an intense desire for an area or areas of my life to be absolutely perfect, and if that area of my life is not perfect, I get intensely agitated or even angry. I will then do whatever it takes to get my way.
Usually the most conscientious people who really want to do what is right struggle the most deeply with perfectionism. These people so badly want to do what is right, and they want every area of their lives to be “just right.”
In our perfection driven world, we are surrounded by so many “perfect” things. We are constantly bombarded with images of perfect families, images of women with perfect bodies, accounts of people with perfect jobs, pictures of perfect homes that never get dirty (that’s a pipe dream may I say!), and the list goes on and on.
Someone who struggles with perfectionism is willing to run over people to get whatever she wants. This is particularly dangerous in the home. For example, let’s say that a mother is consumed with having a perfect home and she will do whatever it takes to keep her home clean. Well, if there are little people around, there is absolutely no way that house can stay perfectly clean, and people’s hearts will be hurt in the process of “keeping a clean house.”
I am especially burdened for Christian women who spend much time absorbing the “perfect life” that social media presents. Now before I get myself in a wasp’s nest, let me say that social media has its merits. Yet like anything in life, there needs to be balance and care.
My heart often struggles if I’m not guarded when perusing a blog or YouTube channel. Content creators work incredibly hard to create images, video, and audio that visually appeals and speaks to our creativity, and often we can be left feeling completely inadequate. We are left with thoughts that we could never be like that person, and very quickly defeated thoughts can turn into jealousy or even bitterness.
Thoughts such as these can start to fill our minds.
My home could never be as pretty as hers.
My appearance will never be as beautiful as hers.
I will never create the perfect birthday party like she did.
I will never be as good of a cook as she is.
I will never get my act together like that homeschool mom.
I’m just a stay at home mom, and my college friend is climbing the corporate ladder.
And the list keeps growing.
Today, with God’s help and grace, I intend to start a recurring series on perfectionism. My intention is not to intimidate others or make them wish for something that God has not given them. My goal is to encourage in such a way that others are inspired and edified, never left feeling defeated or inadequate.
So how do we deal with perfectionism biblically? I am not an expert in perfectionism, and if you would like to listen to a very wise lady speak on the subject, please listen to Pat Berg’s session on perfectionism. But here are a few little tips that God has taught me over the years, and I hope your heart is encouraged.
First, pray about whatever is concerning or troubling you.
This may seem trite, but take your burdens and even little cares to the Lord. Phil 4:6-7 Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee.
Second, have proper priorities.
Dealing with perfectionism is a matter of surrender. It is a matter of having the right priorities in life. Do I value God’s will for my life or do I crave my own will? Am I willing to set aside my own desires to minister to those around me? Other than God, do I value people above everything else (possessions, ambitions, goals, projects, money, etc.)? Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.
For example, God expects Christian wives to be keepers of the home. Yet keeping the home can become extreme, and I’ve been guilty of focusing more on cleaning my home than influencing my family for God.
Third, decide a course of action.
Most scenarios will fit into one of these categories.
1. Let it go.
There are some things in life that are just not worth the mental clutter, physical energy, or the money. It takes wisdom to know what things to let go, and letting go can be a hard process for perfectionists. Letting go does not mean being lazy or not caring. This is a conscious choice to choose the best priority. Ask yourself, “What does God think about _________?”
2. Not now.
There may be some issues that need attention, but now is simply not the time. What season of life am I in? Am I raising young children? Many, many ambitions need to be set aside to raise young children properly and lovingly. A perfectly clean and decorated home is not possible at this stage of my life, and I am deliberately choosing to spend time with my children instead of decorating to the nines and chasing every dust bunny into the trash can.
There are issues that require my attention and care right now. How does God want me to grow in an area of need in my life? What is the best way to deal with the situation? Is my attitude in need of tweaking? Spend time soaking in God’s Word. Is my house truly dirty and nasty and making the inhabitants sick? Then get cleaning! Is my homeschooling truly in need of some attention (perhaps we have not even gotten around to school in a while)? Then set up a doable plan of action.
Something my mom often told me during my school years was, “Do the best you can in the amount of time that you have.” This little saying has stuck with me through the years, and I have even expanded its application in my life. I have expanded the thought to something along these lines:
Do the best you can with the time, resources, energy, and money that you have.
May you enjoy the place of quiet rest that comes from yielding everything to God and enjoying what He has given to you!