What non-perfectionists need to know about perfectionists …

I haven’t written for about a month for a number of reasons, one is because I am struggling my way out of a mountain of work, another is that I’m in a bit of “how do I write again when the last post was so well received” slump. I didn’t re-read it for fear of seeing the glaring errors I’d missed in my brief edit. I saw how many people had read it and then I worried. Why? Because I believe the words of Beethoven to be true..

“The true artist has no pride; unhappily he realises that art has no limitations, he feels darkly how far he is from the goal, and while, perhaps he is admired by others, he grieves that he has not yet reached the point where the better genius shall shine before him like a distant sun.”

I’m not saying that what I do here is art, though it is certainly self expression, and as such I am keenly aware of my limitations in this area. Hi, I’m Anne and I’m a bit of a perfectionist.

There’s a few things that we perfectionists know to be true about ourselves that I believe that non-perfectionists need to know.

We perfectionists do not labour under the misapprehension that we are perfect.

We are not under the impression that we are perfect, in fact, quite the opposite is true of us. We aim for perfection but we are aware of how far we fall short of it … every single moment, of every single day. We work ourselves to breaking point, not because we think we are perfect, we work to that point because we want to be perfect. Though if I’m honest about this the reality is, deep down, I know that I never will achieve perfection this way. But this for some reason this realisation doesn’t make me want to give up – it pushes me further into the cycle.

We know that Christianity and perfection don’t go hand in hand. In fact if you want anyone to lead a discussion or deliver a sermon on that one, ask a perfectionist.

A Christian perfectionist – how do those two elements co-exist? They don’t. My desire for perfection is largely driven by my desire to be viewed as good enough, in my own right. This has no place in Christianity. The truth is I’m not good enough. That’s the honest truth – nothing I can ever do is enough. Nothing that is, other than simply trusting in a Saviour who was perfectly God and perfectly man. Who, through his perfect life his perfect sacrifice, his perfect obedience and his perfect death, has made me perfect in his Father’s sight. I struggle to put it into words. Why? Because my words will never be enough to tell the wonder of this. I know this. Still I want to be able to do it.
As a Christian and a perfectionist I don’t need to be reminded of the thoughts of my heart – I know what they are. I know that this struggle I am writing about, is a struggle with sin, the sin of pride, the sin of self-sufficiency. What I do need to be reminded of is the fact that perfection is available to me – but it’s not my own. I really don’t need to be reminded of or confronted with how far short I fall from the true standard of perfection – God’s perfection. I know it.

We need you non-perfectionists to remind us about a number of things, one is something I struggle with – and that is grace. I’m all over the awareness of my own sin.  I do need to be reminded of grace and I do need to be reminded that through the sanctification of the Holy Spirit I am gradually moving towards becoming more perfect. Not because I’m grappling with how to perfectly mark assignments, or how to keep the house tidy, or how to produce a well-behaved and conscientious middle schooler, or how to not let people down. I’m moving towards perfection because a good number of years ago Someone began the work of sanctification in me and He will bring it to completion. And everything He does is perfect.


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