Years ago, I realized I had been allowing myself to be taken hostage by a cruel master called ‘perfectionism’. At the time, my primary objective was to display a ‘perfect’ external disguise to cover internal wounds and damage—thus, theoretically preventing any peering persons from observing negative stuff in my soul that could be judged or rejected. The poisonous perils of perfectionism.
I spent nearly all my energy attempting to project the image of ‘having it all together’. Friends praised my neat house, home-cooked healthy meals from scratch, well-behaved kids with homemade clothing and toys, my ‘perfect’ marriage, and perfect figure and appearance.
I knew it was all a lie—inside I was miserable and scared. My perfect world was fear-based, solely focused on self-protection. It was an effort to maintain outward control when I felt inwardly chaotic and out of control. And my fantasy world required increasing efforts to maintain the façade. Eventually, it all began to fall apart—thank Goodness!
The turning point was one day when a friend with two young children, (like me at the time), confided that she vacuumed her WHOLE house 5 to 6 times every single day because when her family walked on the carpet and messed up the vacuum lines, she felt she would go nuts.
I saw her ‘prison’—and recognized my own.
Conviction set in as I realized the messy misery I was needlessly imposing on my family with my unreachable high standards and expectations. My self-protection constructed a fortress that kept me locked-up lonely inside.
Once I realized the full extent of my dilemma, nothing short of tearful repentance would work for me—renounce, denounce, surrender, cease and desist, find another way to deal with the insecurity I was covering. I declared ‘perfectionism’ a dirty word around our house, and went to war against it.
It was a difficult journey. Funny thing though, I discovered that people actually like me better when I make mistakes and can admit them. Or when they visit my messy house and I don’t feel the need to apologize. I also began to fathom that God really is in control and he can indeed be trusted with every situation. Everything works out better when I placed my stuff into his hands.
If you work on your ‘internals’ (deal with your stuff) and allow your sharpened character shine through your ‘externals’, you reveal the REAL treasure of YOU inside—including weaknesses and warts—thus releasing people around you to just be themselves as well.
Life is too short and we are each too valuable to spend significant years hiding and pretending to have it all together. If we embrace each others’ imperfections and lovingly challenge each other in encouraging ways to tackle our issues, we make room for God’s glory to radiate Perfect freedom and peace.