If you subscribe to The Drafting Desk, you’ve already heard me talk (er…write) about this idea: the first step to overcoming perfectionism is to decide what you believe the opposite of perfection is. (Side note: I promise I won’t talk about The Drafting Desk in every one of these posts. This will be the last one…at least for a little while!)
When I read the Gospels, Jesus had so many conversations with people who wondered, “Do I REALLY want to follow this guy?” So often, Jesus offered them a trade, asking them to replace their idea of how life was going to go with a life of following and abiding. The problem was many of them wanted the old life more than they wanted the new one.
The “rich young ruler” Jesus encountered in Matthew 19 didn’t really want Jesus. He didn’t want generosity, and he didn’t even want to follow the rules (though he had been doing it so well for so long). In the end, he most valued wealth.
Or, in Luke 9: One person wants to bury their dead while another wants to say good-bye to his family. They both choose those tasks over following Jesus.
When Jesus told Nicodemus about being born again, I think this is what he meant: It’s time to make a trade. Darkness for light. Worry for peace. Brokenness for redemption. Separation for adoption. Striving for rest.
For most of my life, I wanted to protect my reputation and be the best at things more than I wanted Jesus. Some days, I want control over my time and environment more than I want Jesus. I always wanted perfection more than I wanted Jesus, until suddenly, I didn’t anymore.
If you want to stop wrestling with perfectionism, it really helps to know what you want instead. Ask yourself: What do I want more than I want to be perfect?
For me, the answer was freedom. Unmet expectations felt like shackles around my feet, keeping me from experiencing the grace of Jesus. In Scripture, Jesus says that his burden is light and his yoke is easy. I wanted that. I always thought that relinquishing perfectionism meant accepting mediocre, ordinary, and unimpressive. Now I know better.
The opposite of perfection isn’t imperfection: it’s freedom. For you, it might be grace, joy, relief, balance, or acceptance. Whatever it is, it needs to be hopeful and inspiring. That’s the only way we’ll kick this nasty pursuit of perfection.
Throughout the month of October, I’m sharing 31 ways to fight perfectionism. You can find all the posts in this series here. Tomorrow, I’ll share what I’ve done since figuring out that freedom is what I really wanted most.
“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” –Galatians 5:1
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” –Matthew 11:28-30