Posted in Christian Living, Love, Self-Help

Pitfalls of Perfectionism


Others may find perfectionists hard to live with, but we are no harder to live with for others than we are to live with ourselves. Nothing is ever good enough. No compliment is ever really deserved. Peace of mind is an ever-elusive state, just out of reach of a mind that can always find something else that needs to be done, or edited, or tweaked. Who can rest when there exists some problem that still needs solved, or when one never feels to have found one’s purpose, much less fulfilled it?
Add to this self-incrimination, the endless onslaught of perfectionism applied to a flawed world, and you wind up with a very busy mind indeed. Perfectionists can always find things wrong with the way other people choose to live their lives, even when those lives are none of the perfectionists’ business. We can solve problems all day long for people who haven’t asked for it, barely curbing out tongues as we have learned from years of rejected advice that when someone wants to hear our opinion, they’ll ask for it.
But we still think it. All the time, our minds repeating like a CD in our car stereo, and burning just as hot.
“Judge not that ye be not judged” may be the most important verse for we perfectionists to take to heart if we ever hope to kick the “perfection habit.” If we can truly quit judging others and ourselves, just think about how much time we will free to do the true work of Christ, which is to love ourself and others, not judge them.
When God, who is the only true Judge, looks into our souls, He does so from an all-knowing place of perfect righteousness. He alone can read our hearts, knows our motives and can offer grace. God’s judgment is pure, healing and meant to bring us into closer relationship with Him.
When we, who have flawed hearts, judge others, we are not looking into their souls at all. In the moment that we judge, we stop loving them, if we ever cared for them at all. We are incapable of proper judgment. Did Jesus not say to remove the beam from our own eye before trying to extricate the splinter from the eye of another?
Just because we shouldn’t be judging doesn’t mean that we don’t have an accounting to make of ourselves each day in the face of God’s code of ethics. But, we need to make sure that what we are calling God’s ethics are truly His and not our own dressed up to look like Godly righteousness. Is what I am chastising myself for really a sin I need to confess before God? Then confess it and stop the action. If it isn’t a sin in the eyes of God, then why am I torturing myself with chastisement?
If I can only learn to be perfect in love, God’s greatest commandment, then perhaps I can reduce my obsession with judgments about myself and others and sever my ties with perfectionism once and for all.
In the end, the forever elusive “perfection” just isn’t worth its pitfalls.

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Author:

I am a 40-something Texan with a feisty cat and a supportive husband of 20 years. With a Master's degree in English with an emphasis on creative writing, I have taught creative writing at Texas Tech, won awards for my writing and been blessed to be mentored by Horn Professor and poet Dr. Walt McDonald. I earn a living by helping my husband's family run a health food store, but my avocation is writing. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my triumphs and tragedies as I continue to work on figuring out what life is all about and on growing my ability to share my writing. May your own journey be a blessed one.

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