Perfectionism is a good thing and a bad thing. It is good to do things right. It is a bad thing to expect life to be without flaw.
Years ago I studied the personalities. As I got to know myself better and why I acted and reacted the way I did, I learned one of the basic keys to my personal happiness was keeping my perfectionism in check. You see, I was an introverted, melancholy, organizer personality and one of my big problems was requiring everything to be perfect. But it gets worse. Not only was I expecting myself to be perfect, I was imposing my expectations on my family and friends. If something was not the way I thought it should be, my day was pretty much ruined!
Since that time I have worked hard to relax my perfectionistic standards. And I live in a happier household and have happier friends.
My quest to achieve perfection is closely related to my desire to be more like my heavenly Father. But I am aware that I can never be anywhere near God’s level of perfection. Only He is perfect.
Look at his instructions for building the tabernacle in Exodus 25. Almost the entire chapter, as well as the next, give very specific instructions for how things should be. In fact, before He gets very far into His instructions, He says in Exodus 25:9,
“Exactly as I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle, and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.” (ESV)
God has used one of my favorite words here — “exactly.” There is no room for modification or variation. It must be just as He says. It must be perfect!
God can approach everything in that way because He is perfect. But for me, and you, we must adjust our expectations. We are imperfect people living in an imperfect world that seems to get worse every day. If we have to have everything perfect, we are going to be not only imperfect people but miserable.
God’s instructions for the tabernacle included not only the building but all the accessories—the lampstand, the curtains, the mercy seat, the Ark of the Covenant, the table, and more.
Personally, I love a plan. It is easier to get close to perfect when you know what the specifications are. God gave us a plan for the tabernacle. He also gave us a plan for life in the same book, His book. I can find the solution to any problem I have within the pages of that book. But it only becomes the solution to my problem when I apply it.
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus ends Matthew 5 with the words,
“You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 (ESV)
Quite a challenge for me!
What about you? Do you struggle with perfectionism? Or is your struggle with something else? If, like me, you struggle with wanting circumstances and relationships just so, cut yourself some slack. Allow yourself to be less than perfect. As long as you keep your focus on the one who is perfect, the result will be a happy peaceful lifestyle that is perfect for you.
Copyright © December 2018 Linda Gilden, used with permission.