The word perfect conjures up different images for different people and depends on the circumstances. As I’m going through this journey I’m on I’ve developed quite the love/hate relationship with the word.
As I’ve learned to let go of a lot of the things I used to believe about myself I’ve realized that the word perfect describes how I was taught I should be or at least strive to be. Perfect in attendance in school, perfect in grades, perfect in behavior (definitely nothing that would call attention to oneself), perfect in how I dressed (or at least how Mom thought I should dress and not what I thought), perfect in what I chose to do with my life (again what I perceived to be acceptable and noble according to the standards expected of me), perfect in what I said (again mustn’t draw attention by saying something wrong, flawed, witty, etc). The list can go on and on I suppose but you get the general idea.
Briefly talking about behavior – I was a willful child and stubborn (and am still stubborn with regards to some things) so I had a tendency to throw a tantrum from time to time. I was disciplined by my grandfather mostly during these but was definitely told this type of behavior was not acceptable and again not expected of a perfect child. As a kid I guess I learned from this that exhibiting a strong will or even a differing opinion was not right. I could say the same thing happened with what I said, or what I wanted to say but didn’t because it was perceived as not right or perfect. Basically I learned to “stuff” my feelings and thoughts and bottle them up inside which led to other issues that I’ve had to deal with. More to come about these later.
What have I learned about the word “Perfect” in all of this so far? Basically that there is no such thing as completely perfect when it comes to who I am. I am flawed and imperfect and its okay if I make a mistake. There, I said it. It’s okay to make a mistake. For so long I’ve strived to do every thing just right, just how I thought it should be done. Hopefully no one would find any mistakes and heaven forbid if they did and said something to me about it. That was my ultimate fear. That people would find out I’m not perfect.
One of the spiritual gifts God gave me is Administration. What that means for me is that I am extremely, and I mean extremely in some situations, detail oriented. So, because of that I have the desire to do things thoroughly and do them well. From my learned behavior growing up, however, this translated into an all too clear “I must do everything absolutely perfect and not make any mistakes” way of thinking. And this applied to everything about me.
One of the first things that I gained freedom from was this flawed sense of perfectionism. God finally got it through this thick head of mine that I am not perfect and I shouldn’t beat myself up about the mistakes I make. And yes, I will make mistakes. Own up to them, make amends if I have offended or hurt any one in the process, learn from them, and then go on. Don’t keep a running list of all of them in my head so I can bring them to mind whenever I need to shame myself because of the next mistake I may have made. And boy, was I good at doing that! Didn’t matter whether the mistake was big or small, I did it.
Believe it or not, it has been so freeing to know that I don’t have to be that perfect little girl or that perfect adult. It’s really hard work! It’s caused so many issues, some of which I am still dealing with. God knows everything about me, including any mistakes I am going to make, and it doesn’t change how He thinks about me. As a matter of fact, I like to think He is smiling as He watches me grow more into the woman He designed me to be and now how I think the world or other people want me to be.
The song “My Deliverer” by Mandisa has a line in it that says “My Deliverer, You rescued me, from all that held me captive”. I absolutely love that song and sing it loudly whenever I hear it. It speaks volumes about the journey I’m on right now. I’m loving the freedom I’m experiencing. The freedom in Christ that is ours.
Freedom from the burden of perfectionism.