Have you ever had a bad day?
Now, I’m not talking “I spilled coffee all down my shirt” kind of bad day. I’m talking about those days that you just can’t seem to get anything right, no matter how hard you try.
I had one.
Actually, just the other day I experienced one of those “bad” days. It was finals week, and I was overwhelmed. I felt like I couldn’t cram another iota of information into my “bursting at the seams” brain. I messed up every little thing that I did. “Mistake” was my middle name. I’m not kidding. I just couldn’t seem to do anything right, and quite honestly, I felt like a failure.
Sound familiar? You try your absolute best, but it only turns into an absolute disaster. Yeah, you’re not alone. I do it too. I’ve talked about this before, but I believe it’s worthy of even more consideration. Of course, it would be quite literally perfect if we perfectionists could actually reach the unattainable goal for which we were striving. But here’s the deal, and brace yourself; I have a feeling that a quite a few perfectionists’ bubbles are about to burst in 3…2…1…
Perfection doesn’t exist.
Oh, snap. I went there.
I remember when someone first told me the same thing. “Well, I don’t care if perfection doesn’t exist; I’m going to continue to strive for it anyway,” I thought.
Um… Delaney, you good? Because that actually makes NO sense… at all.
I must’ve been so shaken by the crumbling news of perfection’s nonexistence that my common sense deteriorated along with all of my hopes and dreams. (Okay slight exaggeration, I know, but you get the point.)
It’s an incredibly difficult task for a perfectionist to accept the fact that what she is striving for doesn’t exist. Still haven’t grasped it just yet? It’s cool. Do me a favor. Consider this analogy.
Let’s say that you wish to make the honor roll.
First off, great aspiration. I’m very proud of you. *wipes slight tear from eye*
Second off, there’s some fine print: it’s going to take a considerable amount of effort and work to achieve such an ‘honor’able goal. (Get it? “Honorable.” It’s okay, you can laugh. It was funny, I know.)
Despite the personally taxing requirements, you still study laboriously, solely focused on your ultimate goal. Your once spontaneously carefree life is now consumed with deadlines, stress, and papers… lots of papers. FUN. Regardless, you push forward, consistently reminding yourself that “it’ll all be worth it in the end.”
But wait: you soon discover that Honor Roll- the achievement for which you were strenuously striving- doesn’t exist. Oh, cool. It’s cool… no worries. You’re not even mad, right? Yeah, no. You’re bummed.
Please don’t misinterpret the underlying meaning here, guys. By no means am I implying that it is fruitless to do your best. In fact, God calls us to “do it [everything] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3: 23). It’s important to do all for the glory of God, and that means trying our best. It’s not good, however, to make our performance an idol. Work hard and do your best, but check your intentions at the door. Seriously.
I have a tendency to weary myself with unmitigated (and self-inflicted) pressure. I’m my own worst critic, and it’s hard sometimes. Someone once reminded me of this a while ago, and I’m here to remind you of it today.
There is a stark contrast between humbleness and self-beratement. My dear perfectionist, do not criticize yourself if you don’t make straight A’s every semester, or if you suffer from a bad hair day every now and then. You’re going to mess up, but I’ve got excellent news.
We don’t have to perform to merit a relationship with Christ. God is not going to nullify His love if you get a “C” on a paper. We are accepted by a gracious, merciful, and forgiving God. What a blessing!
Let me clarify: God’s acceptance does NOT provide an excuse to willfully sin under the pretense that He will forgive us anyway. God actually says in John 14: 15, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” God expects us to obey Him, but (thankfully,) He understands that we are humans, and thus, we are sinful. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3: 23). If you have been washed in the blood of Jesus Christ, then you, my friend, have been born into the family of God and are accepted by Him.
My dear perfectionist, never forget this. Remind yourself of God’s grace today, tomorrow, and everyday hereafter. You’re not perfect, but you are accepted, loved, and forgiven by the very Creator of the Universe. That’s much better anyway. Take a breath and rest in this truth.