Love or Perfection

If I do the best I can in a given situation, there is absolutely nothing more I can do. As a perfectionist this is a really profound concept. I can often question what else I could have done better in a given moment but as I have been learning, sometimes there is nothing else that could have been done and it’s important to acknowledge my best efforts and accept that I did the best with what I had in those circumstances. There is nothing I can do to change what has been I can only learn from it and do differently in the future. I’ve realized, perfectionism is an enemy of faith, love and trust.

Ps 3:5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”

As I embarked on a stressful work project with an impossible deadline I was anxious and fearful of failure. My anxiety often resulted in not only putting exceeding pressure on myself, but my colleague as well. Throughout the project I needed to go back to God’s love when I was anxious and fearful.

God’s love gives me peace and helps me to accept my best, instead of striving for perfection. What I think should be is often exactly what God does not. How do I know? Because it isn’t. Our God never holds back any good thing from those who love him. He desires to set us up for success. This is an infinite truth. Therefore when I am faced with a trial, it is meant for something greater. It is meant to make me better, to prepare me and reveal yet another facet of God’s love for me when I lean on His strength during it all.

Ps 33:11 “But the Lord’s plans stand firm forever, his intentions can never be shaken.”

Ps 32:8 “The Lord says, ‘I will guide you along the best pathway for your life, I will advise you and watch over you’”

Ps 91:11 “For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.”

When I focus on the circumstances I wish to change I miss out on God’s love and comfort. I act out of self-protection. With work, I end up putting tremendous pressure on myself and those who rely on me to lead them. Instead of empowering my colleague to assist me in doing the work and giving him the room to do it his way, I struck fear into him of disappointing me. This was so humbling. I had to apologize on more than one occasion and really took the time to understand his work style so he would feel respected. Although this was a work relationship, this rule applies in all of my relationships. When I give into perfectionism over God I end up wanting to control circumstances and people around me instead of handing them over to God. God calls me to cast my anxieties on him (1Peter 5:7).

Ps 33:14-15 “From his throne he observes all who live on the earth. He made their hearts, so he understands everything they do.”

My anxieties can be related to my own performance and acceptance or that of those around me. God reminds me that He is the artist on the canvas of my life and the lives of those around me. I cannot change anyone; I must let God do the changing. When I accept this I am able to give more. I want to win and inspire the hearts of those around me instead of conform them to my will. It allows me to pray for God’s will for them and not my own. It allows me to trust that if things don’t go as I planned, God will not let me fall when I seek to bring him glory and do the right thing. With work, it took me accepting the circumstances in order to take pressure off myself and my colleague. When I was anxious I was unable to see my colleague as an ally but rather as a burden or opposition to the work getting done. It took me handing over my anxiety and fears to God daily. It took me showing my respect by praising and believing in the other person in order to empower him to do what needed to be done. It also allowed me to rely all the more on God and not a person to see the project to fruition.

2Tim 4:16-18 “At my first defense, no one came to my support, but everyone deserted me. May it not be held against them. But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength.”

When I cast my anxieties on God, who is the only one who can handle them, I am able to seek comfort in His strength. When I seek comfort in his strength, it changes my perspective on how I view others and how I view them in relationship to me. Even if someone does not pull their weight, disappoints me or even deserts me (which can be one of my biggest fears), I have to get my strength from God, remembering not to hold it against them but rather love them more.

Over the last few weeks, this has been the ultimate lesson for me:  loving more despite of my fear and anxiety. Love helps me overcome my perfectionism. It has pushed me to new heights of intimacy with God as I have chosen to trust in Him more. It has helped me to focus on what is true and right; to let His peace rule in my heart and mind. Love is the fruit of the Spirit of Christ within me that surfaces only when I am filled with Him and yield to His authority over trying to impose my own.

Ps 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go, I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”

“The chief reason we find loving so painful, aggravating and fruitless is because we keep trying to love with the pitifully small resources of our own emotional tank. The only way to love others is by faith, not by feeling. We love by faith.” – Beth Moore

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