As a young Christian I worked diligently to be the perfect Christian. I tried my hardest to walk the narrow line. I work diligently to follow the Bible. Some of this perfectionism came from being a gymnast but most of it came from the desire for my family to see Christ in me. When I made a mistake it was often thrown in my face that I had sinned but my dad did not sin. The phrase “you say you are a Christian but you did xyz and I do not do xyz was thrown in my face on several occasions.” The result is I had extreme panic and fear about messing up. For if I made a mistake, if I sinned, then I was a hippocrite and I feared that this would result in others not seeing Christ in me. I had endless anxiety, panic attacks and sleepless nights as a result. I learned to compensate by being as perfect as possible and hiding when I was not. The hiding of my imperfections brought shame, guilt and worthlessness. I then developed unhealthy habits to deal with all these negative emotions.
When I got older and encountered other people I encountered the opposite problem. Others thought I was to perfect. They would make comments like lighten up, have a little fun, don’t be so self righteous, why don’t you live a little. One of my favorite comments of my brother is “you just have a stick up your ass.” I did not fit in. I was not accepted. My perfectionism was seen in a negative light. This made me feel confused, unwanted and alone. I was shattering from the inside.
It has taken years of therapy to get me to a place where I could come to terms with all of this past baggage and find resolution with God regarding how I should view perfectionism, sin and my inner self. I have had to work diligently. I still have work to do. I would not call myself a perfectionist, I would say I am more an artist. But how does God view perfectionism?
“You therefore must be perfect, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48
Wow Jesus tells us to be perfect like our Heavenly Father. That is a tall order. What I have come to terms with is that I am to work towards perfection. I am to work towards not sinning. I am to work toward being liking Jesus but I have to also realize I will always fall short. When I fall short I should realize I have grace. I should not let my imperfections cause anxiety, fear, panic or sleepless nights but I should also never stop working towards perfection. If people telling me I have a stick up my ass, who cares because there saying this just proves they are blind. It is not a reflection of me but them.
We will never be perfect like Jesus in this life time but this does not mean we stop trying. Perfectionism is a goal we may never achieve but it is a goal we should always be striving for. Amen.