For the better part of my life, I’ve been on a mission. A mission to be the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect student…. the perfect Laura.
Oh how it drained me!
Oh what a difficult path of life to take!
When my teacher told me, “You’re a good student Laura. I’m sure you will not disappoint me.” I heard, “You’re a good student Laura. But you better not disappoint me.”
When my parents told me,” We trust you Laura”. I heard, “You better keep it that way young girl.”
Hehe.. It’s a little funny to think about it right now. But for sure I was in chains.
Simple conversations had me setting out on a quest to prove that I was actually the best. That I was perfect..
Those few times I did get into trouble with my parents or my teachers, or I disappointed a friend, I felt horrible. And even though I got off with a few stern words, I still felt like I’d let them down.
My strife to be perfect gradually carried over to my relationship with God. I honestly thought that God would love me more when I read my Bible everyday, when I prayed everyday, when I attended youth meetings and participated in church events, when I fasted from time to time… and more. I believed that I would impress God more by doing all the right Christian things there are to do. Yes, I did want to do them because I partly understood the importance of feeding my Spirit and serving..but I found myself doing them mainly because I thought that was the best way to ‘bribe’ God into blessing me.
I’d beat myself up every time I dozed off after a long day and woke up having realized that I didn’t pray for atleast 5 minutes before I slept.
I’d feel as though I needed to get saved again.. Hehehe.. Like I’d messed up big time.
It wasn’t cool one bit..
I know I’m not the only one who has felt (or feels) that being a good person – being a perfect Christian – is the key to God’s heart.
There’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence in whatsoever field of life. Being always at our best is part of being a Christian. In fact, Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” We are supposed to shoot for the highest standard of goodness—God’s goodness. And Paul tells the Corinthians, “Whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
But here’s the problem with perfectionism:
Perfectionism is doing our best, for the wrong reason. It is about you, it’s not about God, or anyone else around you.
Perfectionism is selfish.
Perfectionism makes you believe that your worth is in pleasing your parents, your teachers, your friends, your God.. so that you may earn favour with them..so that you may earn love and acceptance.
Or rather, that’s pretty much what it did to me.
Deep within, I was a little stressed out. And I didn’t really want to admit that I wasn’t perfect after all. I had to prove that there was one perfect girl out of about 400 in school.
(And I flopped, by the way..hehe..I messed up many times. And it got me walking with a stoop for almost a year, feeling unworthy)
I had to prove that I was the kind of child every parent desired to have.
The pressure to be perfect, was a little too much to handle.
God’s Perfect Plan
When it comes to God’s love, we perfectionists tend to get the order of things all mixed up. We think, If I’m good enough, if I do all the right things, God will love me. But God reached out while we were still sinners (Romans 5:8). God made the first move.
Sin entered the world, straining God’s relationship with man. We see man trying time and again to fix the relationship with God through animal sacrifices, money, even a tower going up to heaven. But it took God’s sacrifice to bring us back to him. God’s incredible gift of salvation is ours because God loves us, not because we earned it.(Romans 4:4-5.)
(Oh to grace, how great a debtor..
Daily I’m constrained to be.)
God’s love paid the price for our misdeeds. Grace built a bridge brought down by our imperfections.
When Jesus tells us to “be perfect” in Matthew 5:48, he’s saying that God’s idea of perfection is radically different from the world’s idea of perfection. The world says perfection is having the best body, the most popular friends, the happiest family. But Jesus tells us God is our best example of perfection. That means perfection is only found in striving to follow God. And as the apostle Paul explains in Philippians 3:12-16, God wants us to keep our eyes on him and follow the example of Christ in all we do.
Yet even Paul, one of the greatest Christians of all time, admitted he wasn’t perfect. He knew he could only gain salvation through a relationship with Christ. But he continued to do his best as a natural response to God’s love for him. And for Paul, doing his best meant growing in his faith, seeking God in everything he did, loving God with his whole heart.
The same is true for us. Being perfect in Christ isn’t about living up to expectations—the world’s, your parents’, your own. It’s about being obedient to God, day in and day out.
Showing others the light of God doesn’t mean we can never mess up. That’s why some people think they are not good enough to be Christians.
They don’t think they can live up to the expectations everyone has of a Christian – always being nice, never getting in trouble.. etc. Our efforts to be the perfect persons sure doesn’t help them think otherwise. But if we’d be more honest about our own failures and show them how God forgives, they might view everything differently.
Perfectionism is a losing game. Fortunately, it’s one we really don’t have to play. After all, God reached out to us when we were as far away from Him as we could possibly be. Being a Christian isn’t about being perfect; it’s about being forgiven. So we can relax and be confident that God knows we’re not perfect and loves us just the same.
Break the chains now:)