In part one, I told you all about how those pesky Disney princess messed me up, as well as diving into how perfectly unhappy I became trying to be, well, perfect. Am I the only recovering perfectionist out there?
I left you dangling with this question: now that we recognize the problem, and see what causes it, what will we do about it?
1. First of all, remind yourself that God loves you no matter how well, or how poorly, you perform.
“In all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
You did nothing to earn His love and there is nothing you can do to lose it. At the end of your life, you will not stand before your peers…you’ll stand before Him. Pleasing Him is all that matters.
2. Surround yourself with safe people. Safe people are those who love you whether you have it together or not. They encourage you to draw closer to God. They speak the truth in love and show mercy and forgiveness. They give us strength in setting boundaries and fuel our souls with encouragement. For more information on safe people (and avoiding unsafe people), check out Safe People by Cloud and Townsend.
Run hard and fast from manipulators. If you do everything well, there are those who will take advantage of you.
3. Forgive yourself when you mess up.
I know that majorly messing up is a death sentence for a perfectionist. I get it. But that doesn’t change the fact that you will mess up. Accept it.
You’re not God, which by default means that you are an imperfect creature who will let someone down at some point. When it happens, confess it to the Lord and move on.
4. Schedule times to be ‘unperfect’.
Boy, I know this is hard but do it anyways. Go grocery shopping with no make up on. Wear grungy clothes on an errand. Trying painting a picture and making it as ugly as possible. I know it sounds crazy but you might be surprised at the freedom you will discover. Find a place that you can go to totally and completely relax. No performing; just a place where you can be yourself with the Lord. That might be at a special spot in your house, on a nature walk, or in the car.
5. Confess your feelings to God.
Confess it…tell Him all of it. Don’t hold back. The amazing thing about our Savior is that He knows it all anyways. He listens as we cry and pour out our frustrations. He is your safe haven and longs to help you walk in complete freedom.
6. Try to unearth the source of your perfectionism.
This takes courage. Ask yourself about your motives. Why do you do what you do?
And then after you have figured that out, dig deeper.
I’ll show you what I mean. Not too long ago, I was reading Inside Out by Larry Crabb, which God used to teach me a lot about my own motives. I have a few close friends but while being very friendly, I tend to hold people at a distance.
Sometimes when the phone rings, even not knowing who is on the other end, I want to run. So I asked myself why. Here is how the internal conversation went:
I want to run because it might be someone who will want me ‘to do’ something for them.
Would that be so bad?
Not necessarily. But I’ve had bad experiences with needy people. In the past, they have taken advantage of me. They don’t respect my boundaries and that sucks my energy dry.
Why do you think that is?
I just told you why! I’m a people pleaser!
Dig deeper. What if it isn’t someone wanting you to give you a ‘to do’ list? What if it is just someone wanting to chat?
I still want to run away from that ringing phone.
Why? Dig deeper.
Close friendships scare me.
Because if they get close to me, they might see how broken I really am inside. They will think less of me. They won’t love me anymore.
See what I mean?
I believe that if we are fearless enough to be honest, to search our hearts and ask God to shine His light on our brokenness, He will reveal ground-breaking and life-changing awareness to our minds and spirits. And He can transform us to be people who live in freedom, no longer chained to the cycle of perfectionism and anxiety.
I didn’t grow up to be as pretty as Aurora or visit an enchanted castle like Belle, but my imperfect life is actually a pretty neat adventure with Christ. I’m tasting true freedom for the first time. And I can claim that someday my Prince WILL come. He will split the sky and ride in on His white horse, transforming this broken, messy world and will take me home to be with Him forever. I will place a crown at His feet and forever sing His praises along with all the redeemed and every creature in Heaven. “And so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
Now that will be a perfectly happily ever after.