The Word of the Lord to all my fellow perfectionists is, “Don’t be afraid to rebuild the ruins.” Stop trying to start over, running away to the idea of a clean slate.
When you struggle with perfectionism, the stain of sin or any mistake is almost unbearable. It can make you feel horrible about yourself even when you know it’s impossible to be perfect. Accepting your human nature shouldn’t be cause for shame, but for some, it is.
After an offense, the perfectionist tends to go through 2 phases. These phases can be extreme depending on what happened and how bad the person feels, especially if they were embarrassed publicly.
1. Perfectionists Experience Self-Defeat
The self-defeat phase involves negative, destructive thoughts, or worse, depression. For perfectionists, mistakes equal failure. Failing can affect our confidence and then we begin to posture ourselves as less than conquerors. Worst case scenario, we begin to expect the worse in life because we feel we can’t do anything right and nothing ever goes our way. We accept that “this” is who we are.
2. Perfectionists Rush to Starting Over
Starting over represents a brand new resolve or plan of action. It seems simple and valid, but this can be very exhausting if it happens repeatedly as the first and only option to fix things.
Sometimes we do need a fresh perspective, but we shouldn’t constantly revise our entire plan because of bumps in the road. This is unrealistic. In extreme cases, the perfectionist will sabotage relationships, jobs, and whatever else they feel necessary to “run away” from the issue. The incident may be something minute but, in their mind, it is a disaster.
Don’t Run, Rebuild!
Don’t be afraid to rebuild the ruins! Accept forgiveness from God and yourself and then face the ugly truth. This is called maturity. Your actions created the outcomes, but remember that all things work together for your good (Romans 8:28).
God told me that perfectionism is based in pride. Constantly starting over is an indication that your relationship with God is centered around works. This is why you hate to make a mistake. Confronting the situation head-on builds humility. Realizing your nature is imperfect and that you are human will help you to rely on God’s grace.
Notice in the Bible, when God rescued the Israelites, they didn’t move to a new land. They had to rebuild what they destroyed and face their mistakes. There is something very sobering about facing the devastation you caused and having to clean it up. For the perfectionist, this is agony. I believe God did this to help them avoid doing the same thing again. The same is true when we face the ruins and stop running away.
When we rebuild the ruins, we build and strengthen character. It forces us to evaluate the damage then construct better, stronger attitudes and behaviors. Rebuilding helps us to see that there is life after mistakes. We realize that we survived after things fell apart.
God is our Source of Provision, not Perfection
Once we gain an understanding of rebuilding by faith and reliance on God, we will live fearless, victorious lives. Pride wants us to think that we can’t experience God’s goodness without perfection. This puts all the focus on us for work-based salvation.
Closeness with God is not a reward for something great you’ve done. God gives everyone an opportunity to access Him. He does this because it’s His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom (Luke 12:33).
One thing I have to constantly remind myself is – while I was yet in sin, Christ who knew no sin, became sin for me (2 Corinthians 5:21). What that means is – I’m not that smart lol! I only love God because He first loved me (1 John 4:19). And, He didn’t require perfection, and yet here I am disqualifying myself because I’m not perfect.
Newsflash: God never asked us to be perfect!
There Remains Freedom from Perfection
I want us to live free from the lie of perfectionism, Team. God doesn’t want us bound, especially in false humility to unattainable ideals. We must kill pride and insecurity with love. In this case, self-love and acceptance of God’s love.
Rebuilding the ruins is the process of becoming who God created us to be. It forces us into His presence where He can have His way with our destiny. When we admit that we need Him, it gives us an opportunity to witness the life-changing power of the Holy Spirit in us.
The strength we receive by facing the ugly ruins is far better than the false sense of comfort in running away to start over.
Once we go through, we are able to testify and help others who may be going through similar situations. I trust that if we hang in there, God will complete the work He began in us (Philippians 1:6).
So, what’s the play call?
- Don’t run, rebuild! Starting over again and again never works because humans will always make mistakes.
- Take your shame to God. You could never do enough in your own strength anyway. Lean on Him.
- Remember! God doesn’t require perfection. Jesus died while we were yet in sin (2 Corinthians 5:21).