Weekly Church Devotion from Pastor Haydn Sennitt –
You may know of someone who has a tendency towards perfectionism – or you may in fact be like that yourself. You might see some flaw in something, or someone else, and you find it almost impossible to resist trying to fix it. When you think about it, all human beings have this tendency in some small measure: if youwere the groomsman at a wedding, you would floss your teeth and brush your hair and do a million other things to look your best. But what happens when this tendency is overwhelming and everything you do every day must be like appearing on a wedding day? Like any tendency that becomes too prominent, it becomes a tyrant.
Perfectionism begins to take over when you feel like things must be done a certain way before anything else can go ahead – and only you can fix it. You get a business report from a junior in rank, and you must fix every little mistake. And not just the big ones, but the little ones like the size of the font and whether or not a border just gets outside a margin or not. And you won’t ask anyone else to do it. You end up becoming a workaholic, and constantly tired. You’ll blame others for it, because you’ve become hyper-critical. Others may respect you in public, but inwardly they’ll be afraid of you and eventually you’ll find yourself friendless. What most people don’t know is that you’re hardest on yourself, unable to look yourself in the mirror knowing how flawed you are, and how hopeless you are to change yourself in your own strength.
Perfectionism, sadly, is about feeling out of control and seeking to craft the world in your own image. That is a sinful response, but tellingly perfectionism often comes out from deep inner emotional wounds. Perhaps as a child, you were made to feel dirty in some way because of some abuse, or because people were hyper-critical of you. The world became dark, scary, and you felt sickeningly out of control. That’s what you fear the most, and you will do everything in your power to get back control, and so you try (in the present) to get back power over the things that you can manage in your own world. It puts major barriers between you and God, because you will believe Satan’s lies that you ‘must’ be ‘perfect’ before you come to God, rather than just coming as you are.
The good news in all this is that you don’t need to try to be in control, because God is. No amount of perfectionism in the present can change what happened to you in the past. You need to get in touch with your past pain, in safety, and take it to God; weep it out. Look to Jesus, who had very imperfect friends – and yet still died on the Cross for them. You can let go and let God to do His work in you, so you don’t try to change yourself, because the more you try to fix yourself, the worse you’ll get. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men couldn’t put Humpty together again – but neither could Humpty! You have permission to be you before God, and others (warts and all) and as God takes control of things in your life, you can learn to be patient with yourself, others, and even God.
Dear Heavenly Father, please forgive me for trying to gain back control over my life through perfectionism. I’m not in control, not even of my own life – only You are. Yet You are good and You love me. Please help me to surrender to You, to accept myself and others for who they are (warts and all) and to be patient. Things in this world may not be going the way I want them to, but help me to accept Your lordship over all things, even when they don’t seem right to me. Help me to approach You boldly as I am (Ephesians 3:12), rather than thinking that I must be ‘perfect’ before I can come to You. Please heal those wounds in me which have taken me to perfectionism and those who hurt me so much. Please heal my body, spirit, and soul, in the name and authority of Jesus Christ I pray, Amen.
~ God bless, Pastor Haydn.