Life can be messy sometimes, yet right in that messy season God is very present. And when He does a new thing in our lives the mess can appear to become – well, messier.
Says I, a self-confessed perfectionist. Here I am with my arm raised high saying “Hello my name is Karen and I am a perfectionist.” Believe me no one wants to wear an “I’m a perfectionist” badge and parade it around – it can feel like a walk of shame.
I do not like mess; I loathe dis-order – yet I love the new things of God.
Perfectionism is like ivy which grows, twists, climbs and wraps itself around your vital organs, squeezing the life out of you. Have you ever seen a house covered in ivy? At first it looks attractive, until the ivy takes over with roots and branches thick and gnarly, its leaves covering the whole building.
Perfectionism can affect your self-worth as it functions in performance; in achievement and in value through your ‘do’ and not your ‘who’. It is never satisfied, always believing there is something you could do better, could strive for, could reach for. It robs you of today and it’s out to steal your tomorrow.
“Cease striving and know that I am God”
God is enough for you - for me. Perfectionism tells you that you are never enough.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love”
God loves us unconditionally as his sons and daughters. Perfectionism only loves temporarily when it reaches it targets and goals.
As a young girl, I had goals and set out to achieve them. This in itself is a great objective, however, I’d always add to my goal, expecting more of myself. I’d push further, reach higher. The thought of failing could paralyse me, procrastination would stall me along with an equal fear of succeeding. Fear of success leading to self-sabotage.
My first marriage failed when I was 26 years old. A year later I was in France on a course studying Prayer and Intercession. Separated from my husband I was in limbo as to the future. My life felt messy.
Yet somehow I put that to one side and began striving to be a great student on the course.
As exams loomed nearer after 3 months of study, tension was mounting. We were busy making outreach plans, involved in ministry life and navigating all that God was doing in us.
The perfectionist in me was rising up. I was angry, I was stressed. I needed time to study hard for these exams so that I could pass with excellence.
I craved perfection. The fear of anything less made we want to throw up my hands and not even try!
The Course Leader observed that I was upset, and as I opened up to her in floods of frustrated tears, took me in her arms and ministered words of life to me “Are these exams so important? At the end of the day – YOU are important. You are God’s precious daughter. He doesn’t expect all this of you. He loves you.”
I have loved you with an everlasting love
She continued “Take some time off today and do whatever you like”
Acceptance and love coursed through my being. I could cease striving, I was acceptable and I did not need to perform, excel or be amazing. I was good enough.
In the mess of that season - the separation, living in France and moving deeper into prayer ministry - God was challenging my self-beliefs, my perfectionism and the need to earn and be worthy of love.
You would think that 22 years later I would be singing a song of freedom and liberty? And in many respects I am, because Father has walked me through the outer issues to remove the ivy leaves and branches – now He is cleaning the house and pulling at the roots – the perfectionism; which stand between where I am and where He wants me to be.
Love is being poured into this vessel, I’m feeling a new grace which even covers my errors and mistakes.
“I have loved you with an everlasting love Karen Frith – just as you are, no matter what, because you are my daughter. THAT is why my son died for you. Not for your excellence, not for your achievements, but because you are the apple of my eye – because you are you, not because of what you do.”
It can take a mess to become the catalyst for a clean-up and a sort out. A time to cast off the lies, the negative self-beliefs and be saturated in the truth.
The antidote to the venom of perfectionism – is love. Unconditional, unchanging, accepting, grace-filled love.
One of my favourite pass-times as a kid was writing. I used to make my own books and write poetry on our old type-writer. Thankfully both my writing and technology have come a long way!
It is my prayer that these posts from both myself and guest contributors encourage you to embrace the season that you are in and to live it with purpose for God's glory.
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