Confusing excellence with perfection

One of my biggest challenges with having kids was coming face to face with my heart issue of perfectionism.  I frequently misapply the biblical call of excellence to its idolatrous distortion found in being “perfect”.

The visible life of the perfectionist may seem ideal, but that carefully maintained façade hides a frenzied and wrongly motivated heart.

Eastin, Staci (2011-02-26). The Organized Heart (p. 19). Cruciform Press. Kindle Edition.

This is an ongoing take it to the cross problem for me.  I like perfect.  I am NOT perfect.  And so I struggle to hide the non-perfect.  Which is sinful, deceptive, and denies the power of the gospel in my life.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.
(2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

When I get frazzled with my life around me, short-tempered with my children or bitter in my heart about a ministry opportunity (even as I’m smiling outwardly) I can generally trace the problem back to this idol of perfection.

While excellence is a noble goal, perfectionism as I mean it here is a form of bondage. Instead of making us excited and hopeful, it leaves us irritable and cross. Perfectionists can drown in a sea of details, stressing out over the minutiae of life and missing moments of joy. Perfectionists rarely get the luxury of resting in a job well done, ruminating instead on the minor flaws that spoil their idealistic plans.

Eastin, Staci (2011-02-26). The Organized Heart (pp. 19-20). Cruciform Press. Kindle Edition.

I can look back on my life and see how the grace and power of God has changed this in me but I am far from done.  I still struggle with this.  I constantly have to bring the expectations I have of myself before the throne of grace and confess that I am mere flesh.  I am called to do all things for the glory of God, from managing my home and my children, to the more mundane of laundry and cleaning.  But if I’m not being supplied by the grace that God has given in Christ to live for His glory, then I will spiral into living for my own…which leads to chaos, bondage and stress.

Fellow perfectionists, there is freedom in Christ.  We can trust in the God who created all things and orchestrates all things.  We can rest in His perfection, because unlike us, He is perfect.  By the power of the gospel we can walk in excellence and not the bondage of perfection.


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