For the Love of Perfection

"Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own." Philippians 3:12

This past semester, I have learned something about myself I never wanted to admit... I am a perfectionist.  I say that with laughter, because it took me so long to believe it.

Since before I can remember, every time I would write on a piece of paper, whether it be a journal, a sticky note to myself, study notes, or anything really, if there was ever a mistake, I would rip out that piece of paper, wad it up, toss it in the trash, and start all over.  Sometimes I had only written one line before either an ink smear, a misspelled word, or even just sloppy handwriting made that paper "not good enough".  And this process could go on and on until the whole trash can was filled with wads of paper.  It was ridiculous, really!

But the "messed up" paper is only a small portion to the extent of my perfectionist personality.  In fact, it takes effect in my school work, daily responsibilities, friends and family, and most significantly, my Christian walk.  I am always trying to be the perfect student, daughter, sister, friend, Christian, and etc.  But I am always finding the failures which discourage and disappoint.

When I do things, they have to be done perfectly.  If it is anything less than that then it is useless and unworthy - the whole effort therefore becomes a waste.  Sometimes I try again, but if the mess up seems unfixable or a relationship seems like there could be no restoration, I give up (with a few exceptions).  I find myself constantly trying to measure up to Christ.. constantly trying to be perfect and holy for my Father, but sometimes when I fall short, I get in this mind set that "I can't do it, so why try".  That is not at all what the Lord wants us to do.  He never said that once we accepted Christ as our Savior that we would attain His holy nature immediately, but we are to "press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" Phil. 3:14.

He wants us to not only make an effort in taking on our personal responsibilities of living as His children and obeying His good law, even though we fall short and can not do this perfectly.  But He also wants us to have faith and trust in His ability to rid us and others of sin, to give us strength to overcome the struggles we hate about ourselves.  First Corinthians 13:9-10 & 12 says, "For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the Perfect comes, the partial will pass away... For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.  Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known."

Through recognizing the perfectionist part of myself, I have been able to positively accept my own inability and rely more fully on God's perfect ability.  Of course, this lesson in life is pretty well-known to most Christians, but due to our prideful nature and desire to achieve things on our own, I find myself having to constantly remember this and find contentment in the simple fact perfection is a natural limitation and that I am only meant to strive for holiness in light of eternal life with the Perfect.

17 "But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, 18 and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. 19 I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification." Romans 6:17-19