A couple of years ago I was having a conversation with a friend about lists and practical ways to prioritize the day to get stuff done. I could feel the defensiveness and shame rising in me as I shrank, recounting how I’d allowed my own insecurities and need for perfection to hold me captive in my mind—and ultimately, in my life.
Most days, I find myself struggling to complete even the smallest tasks, and sometimes I have a hard time figuring out what should take priority. That is a really hard thing for me to confess, yet here I am, hoping someone finds solidarity in my vulnerability.
I haven’t always been this way.
This tensive battle between done or perfect hasn’t always been my lot. I wore the title of perfectionist like a badge of honor. I took pride in the fact that I got things done and that when I did, they were done just so. You know, ‘perfectly.’ I also touted and ‘blessed’ the names of others who did the same. I resisted any idea that this mindset controlled everything I did. In every way it demanded more attention, more praise from those around me, and before I knew it, it had completely taken over.
This way of operating began to require more and more of my time and brain space; it also stifled any motivation I had to move forward and accomplish said goal(s). As I remained stuck in this mindset, it became more and more difficult to do the things that my heart set out to do. Which, in turn, caused me to procrastinate. I became terrified to act on anything for fear of doing things wrong or not reaching the level of perfection that I’d had in mind. Relate?
I finally decided that I was tired of feeling stuck and depending mostly on myself to get the job done. In all honesty, I was completely exhausted.
Deep inside I knew there was more to life than the false sense of perfection I’d struggled with for so long. What I needed was to learn to rest in Him. There is a deep intimacy and freedom to be found when we realize that He alone is The Great Perfector—an eternally overwhelming peace that flows when we recognize that truth and acknowledge that as we seek perfection, what we are ultimately looking for is to be fulfilled and perfected in Him.
I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Here are a few truths I like to remember during those times when I struggle most with getting ahead of myself or allowing this unhealthy idea of perfection to overwhelm and stifle me:
1. I am a part, not the whole. One of the things that has helped me the most is recognizing that I am only part of the story—that the weight of the world (or even more, a project) isn’t on my shoulders alone. Nothing helps to remind me of this truth more than the community of sisters I have the gift of doing life with who continue to remind me that I’m not in this thing by myself.
2. Stay focused. “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” I know. It sounds so easy, right? But this is no small task, so how do we walk this out, practically? For me, remaining in Him can look like allowing His voice and His presence to infiltrate my moments. The fruit of that isn’t always immediately tangible. Sometimes it seems slow, but it’s always on time.
3. I am not alone. “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” Honestly, it’s a pretty powerful statement and one that we can take to the bank. Of course, you can totally choose to do many things without help from anyone or from Him. But if we take a step back and look at our humanity—what we’ve been created to do—we will see that we are much more powerful when we are IN Him and connecting our passions and purpose to Him, using it to empower and bring out the best in others around us. Taking note from the first tip above, we are a part of a much bigger picture, you and I, and we have so much to give.
I have found rest in these truths, and I hope you do the same.
What are some ways you’ve found to break old cycles and ways of thinking in your life?