Tuesday, June 2, 2009

The Trap of Perfectionism

Hi - my name is Dena, and I'm a recovering Perfectionistic Pharisee. :)

It sounds humorous, sure, but it dang nearly killed me ... whether it was the intense anxiety of striving to keep up high grades, or tormenting my body with two decades of bulimia ... I had it bad. The bulimia was healed, gloriously, nearly 9 years ago (I'll share that story another time) ... but the perfectionism continues to raise its ugly head from time to time. It tells me I'm not good enough as I am ... that I "should" be some other way, or "should" behave some other way.

Where I find it most devastating is in the guise of "being perfect for God." It sounds noble, no? It sounds like a good and holy endeavor... as if God Himself asks it of us ("be perfect, as I am perfect").

Problem is, He created us to be fallible...

I mean, think about it -- He had endless options at His disposal, being Creator and all. No one to answer to ... and He chose to create us as error-prone beings.

What makes us think then, that we should be perfect (really, we need to stop shoulding on ourselves and others - messy business!). It is ok to make mistakes. Really.

How can it *not* be ok to be one who errs, when, out of all the potential possibilities, that's the very way God made us...?

How angry and disgusted are we with our children, when, as they are learning to walk, they fall...?

Do we scream at them, blame them, kick them, shame them?

Or do we smile and laugh with delight, at their earnest efforts? Do we not KNOW that they will gradually become more adept, and thus treasure each precious stage of development?

If we, who err, can see our own children in this way, how much MORE so our Father in heaven, who is perfect...? (His ways are *higher* than our ways, not lower.)

Would He not smile indulgently at us, as we stumble, as we make mistakes and learn from them? Would He not know that we can learn and grow, as He leads us? Is not the very propensity for mistakes His own tool by which we learn? How can we know who we are, without experiencing who we're not...? How can the free-will-choice be instructive, unless we learn from the various consequences?

Are we, by calling ourselves "perfectionists", declaring ourselves to somehow be "above" His very plan for humans, thus exempt from His ways? Are we not denouncing and rejecting His very means of development, and thus *not* learning, but keeping ourselves stuck in our own self-declared perfectionist-limitations..?

It seems to me that to the degree we see ourselves judged and condemned by a demanding God, to that degree do we thus judge and condemn others ...

Do we truly believe that God would create us to be error-prone, and then blame and condemn us for being as He'd made us?!?

What if we have God, and thus ourselves (& each other), all wrong..?

Shalom, Dena


Benjamin Graber said...

Um... Wow. Thanks. Right where I needed it, right when I needed it.

dena said...

Me too, Ben.

I only put out what I need to hear.

Sometimes I learn what I believe, as I type, LOL!

Stephanie said...

Thanks Girl!