(I wrote this on December 18, 2014.)
Mrs. Perfectionism. She seems to be my constant companion. She’s always telling me how I can do better and warns me when I’m on the brink of being less than “perfect”.
“You didn’t say the right thing. You didn’t act the right way. You messed up. You failed. You better ‘fix’ it as soon as possible so you can get back on the path to ‘perfect’!”
The thing is, I don’t really like having her as a constant companion. She is a taskmaster. First, she tricks you into believing that being “Mary-Poppins-practically-perfect” is somehow possible. Then she points out how you’re not measuring up and insists that you try harder! If you try hard enough, maybe, just maybe, you can achieve “perfection”. She preys on the fact that you really want to do the right thing. She tries to suggest that perfect actions are right actions, even though there is a difference.
You see, today I had an off day. I didn’t say or do all the right things at all. As a matter of fact, the fleshly side of me was quite visible. Honestly, I was so overwhelmed and stressed out with my to-do list that I just wanted to call a time-out on life so I could JUST breath. But Mrs. Perfectionism had a few things to say about that:
“You are not being a very good pastor’s wife! You are such a complainer! Nobody wants to hear about how overwhelmed or stressed you are! You are SUPPOSED to be full of peace and joy; an EXAMPLE for others! You know you could do a lot better at this whole Christianity thing! You better shape up and quick before you destroy your reputation! If anyone sees all those yucky imperfections and flaws, then you’ve already lost out! They will never respect you again! And let’s not get started on the type of wife you’ve been today? Do I need to go any further? Shape up girl, you’re showing cracks! ”
Today, I got home and was exhausted! These past few weeks, I’ve been giving my all to the work of The Lord and honesty I was feeling tired, worn out, and a little grumpy. I sat down on my couch with just my Christmas tree lights on and thought,” I wish I could just enjoy this Christmas season! It’s always so busy! I wish I could be a better servant for Christ through it all! After all, He is the reason for the season. I wish I could do things like so-and-so. I wish, I wish, I wish…” And then regret set in – regret that I wasn’t “Mary-Poppins-practically-perfect” today. And then shame. I had failed. I began to ponder how I would go about “fixing” all my imperfect moments from the day so I could get back on the path to “perfect” as soon as possible. I would have to apologize to this person and make sure that person didn’t misunderstand me. I would have to repent of my bad attitude and get back to doing things heartily as to the Lord with joy and gladness because I’m sure The Lord was disappointed in me. In the midst of creating my “fix-it” strategy, two simple phrases rang in my heart: His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23) and His grace is sufficient for me (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Oh how precious are the words of Truth! I immediately shifted gears and began to dwell upon Truth!
God has given me a covering of grace for when I have a less than “practically perfect” day! I can run to Him and when I don’t seem to measure up, He does! In fact, “perfect” may never be attained here on earth, but I can be “perfect” through Him and in Him! I may feel inadequate at times, but He is enough! His grace is sufficient!
It’s okay to be me. It’s okay to be human. It’s even okay to make mistakes. He knows our frame and remembers we are dust (Psalms 103:14). In those moments of weakness, all I need to do is run to Him! He will help me! Though I fall I shall arise (Micah 7:8, Proverbs 24:16)!
You know the Truth has a funny way of setting you free (John 8:31-32)! And I began to feel a freedom wash over me.
No more “Mary-Poppins-practically-perfect”. No more regret and shame. No more “fix-it” strategies. And no more Taskmaster. Good-riddens Mrs. Perfectionism! Beat it in Jesus name! In Christ, I am free to be me, to be real, and to be human! His strength is made perfect in my weakness. And when I show cracks, that’s okay because that means His light can shine through those cracks! So let them show, so I can shine bright for Him!
Do you know Mrs. Perfectionism too? Has she said the same things to you? Did it make you feel like you didn’t measure up? Did it leave you full of regret and shame? If so, join me today in embracing Truth instead and tell Mrs. Perfectionism to get lost!