Complacency and mediocrity. Two words that have no place in the vocabulary of a perfectionist.
Perfectionists, like myself, are strivers. We’re always working towards something bigger, better, stronger, more valuable, relevant, or higher achieving. We are not lazy people, but ambitious people, forgoing comfort or stillness to pursue busyness and productivity for the reward of growth or success. Enough is never enough, even though desiring more often leaves us feeling less.
In our pursuit for perfection, achievement, and fulfillment, we will always come up short. No matter how high the bar is raised we will never be able to reach it and discover whatever [we anticipate] is found on the other side. At times, it feels like the world is surrounded by a glass ceiling, giving us the illusion of limitless possibilities to do, go, and see. We shoot for the stars but get caught in the clouds or fall in disappointment, dissatisfaction, or disapproval. Drained, depleted, and empty, we long for something, anything, to fill the void and make us whole. Perfect. Complete. To provide us with purpose and a reason for existing.
The endless cycle of striving never leads to thriving and we know this. Still, there’s something innate [within a perfectionist] that won’t let us stop.
If giving up is never an option, perhaps we should consider giving in?
Even though I consider myself to be a recovering perfectionist, I struggle nearly every day with elevating works over faith. I look at the world around me, the society I am a part of and the culture I am navigating, and I can’t help but think, “I need to do something. I must do something.” After all, why would I be here, in this specific time, era and place if God didn’t want me to do something?
In my mind, it’s the only thing that makes sense of the chaos I am witnessing – I must be living through this moment to utilize what God has gifted me with, equipped me to do, and sanctified me through so I can serve His Kingdom on earth as I will [someday] in heaven. To bring glory, honor, and praise to His name each day I have breath in my lungs and a beating heart. To shine a light on Truth. To love people like I love Him. To not sit back and wait, but rather stand up and do.
Yet, this mindset puts the world on my shoulders and all the work to be done on my watch, with my hands, and through my strength. It puts me in the driver seat and makes me responsible for the labor and the outcome. My trust is misplaced. A false security blinds me to my insecurities – a dangerous liability if I don’t hand over the keys to my need for control.
The pressure to do can be so strong that it presses us to confront our limitations. Our inability to do all the things all the time. To wear all the hats and be “all the people” to all people. To be everywhere at once.
When you lower the bar of what God expects of you, you can raise your hopeful expectation of what He can do through you. With the bar removed, you have space to replace your trust in Him. You can be centered, grounded, stable and secure, no longer wandering aimlessly or self-guided.
We all long for purpose and meaning, to make sense of the world and our role within it. We are homesick for a “home” we have never been to. A “home” where we can dwell with our Creator and bask in His marvelousness. A place of perfection where promises are fulfilled and where we belong.
Our current residency is merely a rental; a temporary waiting place with eternal implications. No wonder we grumble about our living conditions or strive in our own strength to attempt to bring heaven on earth. It’s natural to want to contribute to the world, make our mark, and leave a legacy. We should want to share our unique gifts, talents, skills, and experiences with the world. To illuminate the glorious power of the gospel and lead people to know, love, and follow Jesus. We are citizens of the Kingdom who aren’t called to be spectators in the world.
Our hearts should reflect Who we belong to, what we believe and what we are living for. This has been a struggle of mine in recent months because deep down I want my life to mean something, to have used my time purposefully, to someday leave the world knowing I did the good things the Lord had planned for me to do. And yet I struggle, because I see all of the things I should do, want to do, believe I’m called and equipped to do, and still feel like I’m failing. Like I’m not making a difference or even a small dent.
Between striving in my own strength and desiring to thrive in the Lord, I felt God repositioning my heart as He nudged me back into the passenger seat. It was the gentle reminder I needed to know I am not in control. I am along for the ride but must be ready for any stops or detours. To rest. Dwell in Him. Consult His Word, remember His faithfulness, equip myself with His armor, and prepare for the long road ahead. The journey is far from over.
If you’re a doer and live a fast-paced life that is constantly on the move or busied with to-dos, commitments, or other things of interest, slowing down, pulling back, pausing, resting or being still can be the most challenging thing you do. It’s important to recognize that doing too much can be just as harmful as doing nothing or doing too little. We are called according to His purpose. We are chosen and set apart to live in this world without conforming to it. Our citizenship should be outwardly known as we faithfully pursue the good works assigned to us.
He will move and will work in our lives, but we will only recognize it when we are dwelling in Him. When we surrender control and selfish ambitions. When we lean into Him and allow Him to lead. When we silence the noise, eliminate distractions, and clear the fog. When we ask Him for wisdom, guidance, and Truth.
Praise God for His sovereignty, consistency, and faithfulness! God has never left His position of power and control. Even when it feels like the world has gone to hell, He remains on the throne and anticipates the day we are welcomed home. God is our True North, our Guiding Light, the source of our peace and our Living Hope. Just as we long for something more, He longs for more of us.
“Therefore, let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, faith in God,teaching about ritual washings, laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And we will do this if God permits.
For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, who shared in the Holy Spirit,who tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away. This is because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding him up to contempt. For the ground that drinks the rain that often falls on it and that produces vegetation useful to those for whom it is cultivated receives a blessing from God. But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and about to be cursed, and at the end will be burned.
Even though we are speaking this way, dearly loved friends, in your case we are confident of things that are better and that pertain to salvation. For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you demonstrated for His name by serving the saints—and by continuing to serve them. Now we desire each of you to demonstrate the same diligence for the full assurance of your hope until the end, so that you won’t become lazy but will be imitators of those who inherit the promises through faith and perseverance.” – Hebrews 6:1-12 (CSB)