I am a perfectionist…..admitting the problem is step number one right? I struggle with wanting to have everything in my life appear just right and perfect.
I like order
I don’t like mistakes
I have a problem with flaws
I have a hard time settling for good enough
Is this a bad trait? Not necessarily. It can be helpful in maintaining quality in my work. It pushes me to not give up easily. It helps me to wait on certain purchases to get the best. So, it can be a positive attribute in my character.
But….I also struggle with extremes in my life. I tend to go overboard sometimes (well most of the time) with things. One example is….almost 5 years ago after our marriage separation we decided that maybe a swimming pool would be something that could foster family time here at our home. God blessed us with a “free pool” from some friends that were getting rid of one. Awesome right? Yes, Andrea’s parents had blessed us with some money and we were able to install the pool and swim that summer. The “free pool” needed some parts and installation materials but the gift covered all of those expenses. We truly felt it was a blessing! We had a blast that summer with it!
Then my “lets make it better” thought was…. how about a deck around it? Of course it wasn’t going to be a deck like every other pool….So for the next two summers I proceeded to build a deck around the entire pool. The free pool was not so free anymore. I wanted to make it perfect for all occasions…..including finding a cool slide for the pool!
Was it bad that I wanted to build a deck…No. But my attitude about it all was not so great. I obsessed about getting it just right. I wanted a unique and special pool deck. Looking back now I realize I missed out on time with my kids as they swam and I worked. I was more concerned about the appearance of the work than the people that were swimming while I was putting up board after board. Don’t get me wrong….we love the deck and the pool but when I look back I wish I would have enjoyed the journey instead of trying to get to the completion. That has been a struggle of mine for so many years. I am always concerned about the destination instead of the journey and process of getting there. I want to “arrive” because that is the place of perfection and completion. People love the end results of a project not the mess of construction.
Can I say this about my relationship with Christ? I spent years trying to be perfect. Well, I was good at fabricating a picture that I was perfect. I was very good at presentation. From the outside I looked like my life was so put together. You would look at my career, my family, and spiritual life and see perfection. At least the appearance that I had it all together was the view. But behind the closed doors there was mounting debt, poor decisions, a growing addiction to pornography that was destroying everything from the inside.
I cared more about looking perfect because I wanted people to accept me….maybe deep down even envy my life if I dare be that truthful. If they felt jealous of what I had, then that gave me some sort of edge over them. I lived my life caring what others thought of me being the highest priority and I was going to be perfect for them!
Well that all came crashing down 5 years ago when the gap between the façade and reality became too wide to cover up anymore. My sins found me out…I was tired of pretending…God was standing there waiting…I had a life altering decision to make….Will I continue in this life of acting or be truthful and real.
I tried so hard for so many years to be perfect for everyone including God. I read this quote and its words describe my past life so perfectly:
“Waiting to come the Lord when you get your life cleaned up is like waiting to the ER when you stop bleeding. He doesn’t love some future version of you; He loves us in our mess.”
I spent years trying to get the best “me” ready for a relationship with God. When I got things straightened out then I could be HIS fully. I thought if I could only get rid of the lust and struggle with pornography God would love me. If I would stop overspending and live on a budget, then I would feel that closeness to God. That never happened because I don’t have the power to clean up my sin. I am really good at getting into it or finding new ways to mess things up, but only God can clean it up.
My perfectionist person thought if I could get it all neat and tidy….then God would love me. Otherwise He was just a disappointed parent. What I didn’t realize is He loves the cleanup. He loves to take broken people and make them new. I was only concerned about the end product…the destination…..arriving at the completion. God wants us to come to Him and see the journey.
So for the past 5 years….I have been trying to see the journey each day. I have experienced great fulfillment in my marriage and family, but also continually see the areas that still need so much work. He is so patient with me. Some days he needs to knock me up side the head and other days He whispers “let’s work on this next”
Where are you today? Are you waiting to get cleaned up before having a true relationship with Christ? Are you putting up a good face for others, yet dying inside? Stop…..Only God can clean you up, make you whole, satisfy those longings and desires……
He can Rebuild lives
He will Renew minds
He does Restore hearts