April and Brandon in 2003
I remember Greg saying this to me earlier in our marriage at some point. “You want to be miserable. You enjoy being upset. You don’t want to be happy.”
I was shocked.
Of course I didn’t enjoy being miserable. That was ridiculous!
But his statement made me think a bit. Not enough that I could understand what I was really doing. But I did have to wonder… Could he be right?
I was a perfectionist back then. You would think that a perfectionist would be thankful and grateful when things were 99% right. But that is not how perfectionism works. When I am a perfectionist, I am ALWAYS focusing on the 1% or 5% or 0.0012% of things that are “wrong” in my view. I want to fix what is wrong. I focus on the bad things. I focus on what I don’t like. I am dissatisfied with anything below 100% perfection. And if things are somehow 100% perfect, I am not thankful! My bare minimum requirements have been met. So I am not happy or pleased. I could only be delighted if my expectations were greatly exceeded.
God commands us as believers to not argue or complain, because it would keep us from shining for Christ if we do in Philippians 2:14-16. He commands us to be thankful in all circumstances in I Thessalonians 5:16-18. He commands us to focus on the good, noble, pure, praiseworthy things in Philippians 4:8. God says we can be content in all circumstances through Christ who gives us strength in Philippians 4:12-13.
What was I doing?
I was 100% focused on what was bad. I was full of negativity. I was ungrateful. I argued. I complained. I was negative. What kind of witness was I for Jesus? 🙁
It is impossible to be perfectionistic, for me, at least, and be humble, gentle, thankful, content and joyful in Christ.
i don’t believe perfectionism is compatible with being totally yielded and submitted to Christ as Lord. Perfectionism means we make an idol out of things being perfect, by our standards, of course. I cannot have God’s peace and be flexible and roll with new circumstances and obstacles if I am dead set on things having to be the way I think they should be. If I am a perfectionist, I must have my way at all costs, and I must try to make things happen “right” instead of trusting and resting in God’s sovereignty.
It is fine to do my best and do a good job, knowing I am doing all things unto God. But if I base my worth and value on my performance, or everything being perfectly clean, perfectly in tune, perfectly organized and perfectly flawless all the time, I am going to be worried, anxious and stressed out a lot. And I am going to make life miserable for those around me.
The primary motives God wants us to have are:
1. To love Him with all our hearts, minds, souls and strength
2. To love others with His love as we love ourselves with His love, too.
Am I doing the things I do out of fear or out of the power of God’s love and His Spirit powerfully flowing through me?
Do people feel anxious, nervous, upset, tense or intimidated by me? Or do people feel welcome, loved, valued, cherished, blessed, nurtured and safe around me?
Am I spending my efforts on the things that will matter in eternity, or am I focused on things that won’t matter one bit when I stand before God when this short life is over?
How can I store up treasure in heaven?