The Pride of Perfectionism
Perfectionists often believe that their neurosis affects only themselves, that their problem is such a part of who they are that it cannot be changed. But this is not true. Perfectionism plagues more than the obsessed one; it also harms those around her. The problem with perfectionism is that it comes from a heart that believes that it deserves—no, must be—perfect. Perfectionists base who they are on how well they do things. In other words, they serve their pride and their sense of self through their efforts. This is pride and has no meekness in it. The meek or gentle spirit is content with even imperfect things. She puts no demands on herself that don’t come directly from God, and she accepts his grace in those moments when she fails. “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8–9).
The Perfectionist has no Time for Grace
The perfectionist has no time for grace, and in the path of perfectionism lies battered relationships that experience the prideful wrath of the moments when perfection fails. Gentleness carries with it a sober understanding of who we are, broken and frail, fallen and unrighteous. It agrees with God and can claim that only Christ is perfect. It doesn’t, in pride, demand more of itself, as if it were better than others, but instead agrees with God that we are sinners saved by grace and unable to make ourselves perfect, no matter how hard we work. This should come as a relief to the perfectionist.
“Everything You do has to be Perfect” is a Lie!
The lie that everything you do has to be perfect comes from the pit of hell. It argues with God over the true nature of your soul, sinful and broken, and demands recognition for being, well, perfect. But gentleness makes no such demands. In peace it allows God to be all and so relies not on success or perfection to be the reward for hard work. Gentleness is freedom for the perfectionist—forever changing the subject to the Father and forever allowing success to be defined as loving God with everything and loving others as ourselves.
Adapted from The Fruitful Wife by Hayley DiMarco.