Recently I found my heart resonating with a piece by Mallory Manning, writer and blogger. She was talking about perfectionism - something that I thought I had licked. What I've learned is that our nemesis may not go away that easily, but there truly is hope.
"I feel like I can't uphold my end of the deal."
What deal did I make? Who was involved in this deal that I don't even remember making?
Me, I make deals with myself all the time. I will be punctual. I will remember to send birthday cards. I won't let anyone down.
In some form, things like maintaining our commitments and celebrating others reflects the loyalty and intentionality of Christ. But instead of honoring God with my reliability, I often desire to meet expectations to maintain my image and prevent others' judgments. So I make deals with myself, shaking hands with perfectionism.
But you know one truth I'm continually learning? I will never be able to uphold my end of the deal and that's precisely the point.
I found some of Mallory's points to be spot on. You see, as a member of "Perfectionists Anonymous", I get this. Having spent a good part of my life trying to earn what was already mine through Christ, I know what a trap perfectionism an be.
Christ died not so that we would "owe Him something" through our actions, but so that we could walk in FREEDOM.
Let me say it a different way...Christ died to set us free. Being a perfectionist = being a prisoner.
One other thing that my perfectionistic ways uncovered was a nasty little stumbling block called "pride". Funny how pride is often at the root of so many of our problems?!
By my continual striving and attempts to earn my salvation, I was in essence saying that what Christ did was not enough - that I still needed to do something above and beyond what He did. That's pride. When Christ sacrificially breathed out those last words, "It is finished," He meant it was complete.
There is nothing more for us to do, but to walk in the freedom for which He laid down His life.
I have found a scripture that is like a soothing balm to the struggling perfectionist who wants to leave those ways behind and walk in the freedom that Christ intended. It is found, interestingly enough, in this well known segment of scripture...
"Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-29)
Usually we associate these verses with someone who is going through a rough time, is weary, and needs the rest that only Christ can provide. This may be true, but the real gist of Jesus' words here are this:
If you are weary and burdened by living under the weight of the Old Covenant, with its legalism and its laws, come to me because I can give you rest. There is a new way of living.
If you are tired of living under the judging eye of others, let God be the judge and if you have accepted Christ, you are perfect in His eyes. Human evaluations no longer matter.
Perfectionism, by the way, is weighted down by legalism and laws - a kind of get it right or else attitude.
Jesus bids us lovingly, "take up my yoke (the New Covenant that is based on grace and not on merit) and learn from me."
Unlike the heavy yoke of the law that we continue to fall and stumble beneath, Jesus gives us a new, lighter yoke, of the New Covenant of grace and forgiveness.
"Because I am gentle and humble in heart and, In me, you will find rest for yourselves."
No more having to make deals with ourselves because we feel like we will disappoint God or disappoint others. Jesus is gentle and humble...He doesn't make deals.
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
If you feel like you are continually struggling under a heavy burden to "get it right or else", chances are you are wearing the wrong yoke. I get like this sometimes - so frustrated with letting myself down, others down, God down.
That's when my dear husband looks me square in the eye and says, "Bev, you don't have to be perfect."
That is my cue...my reminder to set aside the pride I have unwittingly picked back up and put on. That's my cue to lift off the heavy yoke of the Old Covenant- with all its burdens and laws and slip into the light yoke of Jesus - the one that says...
"It's finished. There's nothing more for you to do. I did it all. Now go and walk in the freedom that I've paid the price for."
Do you struggle with perfectionism? Do you ever feel like you are held to a higher standard than everyone else? Do you find it hard to be easy on yourself? What's preventing you from taking in the freeing Truth of Jesus' words?
Dear Heavenly Father, Forgive me for the pride that says that I can do this on my own - that somehow I can earn your love and my salvation. Help me to take in the Truth that there is NO SUCH THING AS PERFECT unless it is me being seen by You through the blood of Jesus. That is the one and only way. Help me not to continually stumble beneath a heavy yoke of laws, legalism, and perfectionism. Enable me to live in freedom under the yoke of your New Covenant. You died so that I could dance....let me dance in freedom knowing I am loved by you no matter what because you paid the price for my mistakes. Let me strive less and abide and rest more in You. Thank you Lord and it's in Your name I pray, Amen.
ps. Come and check out some of the new news and happenings with Redeemer Christian Foundation, Inc. See the faces of lives that are being transformed because they too are living under the freedom of the New Covenant!!