Joy Stealer – Perfectionism
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!” –Isaiah 26:3
Funny how starting a blog somehow makes you feel like you have to be an expert at blogging. I spent the last 3 days researching and reading what the Bible had to say about joy. I wanted to not only express myself but also impress my audience. I wanted everything to be right, true, accurate and, shall we say…Perfect!
It’s the perfectionist in me that wants my day well-planned, my home well-ordered and my children well-behaved. It’s also that same perfectionistic streak that struggles to begin a project, procrastinates in the planning process and then never finishes what I start. Why? Because it has to be “just perfect.”* For example:
- Before I can join a gym I have to lose 10 pounds to fit into my cute gym clothes (God forbid I might actually look ridiculous sweating in my “fat clothes”).
- My diet needs to start Monday (not Wednesday or Tuesday). Monday is a “perfect” day to start. After all…God started at the beginning didn’t He?
- I’ll start on that writing project once I have everything completely organized (my home, my family, my sock drawer, and (while I’m at it) my tax returns from 2003).
Can you identify with any of these statements? Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. At first glance it’s not a bad thing. I mean, don’t we serve a perfect God? Don’t we want to be more like Christ? Of course! But perfectionism left unchecked can be paralyzing. It masks itself with good intentions and steadfast resolve while hiding pride, idolatry, vanity, self-righteousness and fear of failure. It cripples us by focusing the attention on ourselves rather than our amazing God who keeps us in perfect peace when our hearts are focused on Him.
I’m thankful I don’t have to impress…I’m not here to be perfect but to point you to the one who is perfect. Christ’s love for you is perfect. When He pours His perfect love into your imperfect heart, the result is joy…exceeding joy! I’m thankful that He accepts me; my mistakes and limitations. He sees how undone I am and still holds out open arms gently whispering “come to me you who are weary and heavy burdened.” (Matthew 11:28)
His peace is waiting for you too. He wants to fill you with joy in His presence. Lay down the burden of perfectionism and know that Jesus wants to take everything that is imperfect about you and replace it with his righteousness. John 15:9-11 says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” Joy is complete when we are complete in Him alone…not in our own pious, empty efforts.
Lord, I want to experience your joy again. Please help me to lay aside my need to be perfect. I confess I have been consumed with the cares of this world. Forgive me and cleanse me. Fill my imperfect heart with your perfect peace, love and joy so that I may be a blessing to others. Help me to accept others as you accept me: broken and imperfect. I love you and thank you for your love for me! In Jesus name, Amen!
* Editor’s Note: As I write this I’m staring at a massive pile of laundry and a stack of unopened mail…And my diet will begin on Tuesday!