On the Elusion of Perfection

I’ve always been a perfectionist. Having to have the crayon box with all twelve colors, to get an A+ on everything, constantly organizing my drawers—it’s in my bones and has been for a while. Honestly though, the fact alone makes failure all the more blaring and painful and… disappointing.

I’ve always tried to beat disappointment, not joining things I’m destined to flop in, trying to be proactive with certain situations. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t work. Sometimes, yes. But I fail all the same. I beat myself up over and over about it, promising to do better the next time. You’ve maybe had that happen too. But here’s the thing, what I’m still striving to learn. Is God disappointed in you when you don’t make the penalty kick in soccer? Is he ticked when you get that F in Chemistry? No. It’s just you. You are the only one that’s disappointed in you.

Here’s where the topic divides into two different things: spiritual things and earthly things. First, earthly things. I’m gonna go out there and say something wild, especially for your fellow perfectionist. Fail on purpose. Fail royally.

That’s right. We’re raised in a successful culture and society. We’re taught from the very beginning that failure is bad. That’s wrong. Learning to fail well builds character that a century of success never will. Failure isn’t to be feared, neither is success to be fretted over. Learn to accept both with godliness and humility.

Secondly, are holiness and perfection the same thing? For years I’ve thought so. Then someone posed this question to me. Still thinking? The answer is no. They are not the same thing. Jesus asks that you honor Him with your actions, not that you honor you. And hard as it is to admit sometimes, perfectionism more often than not only is an attempt to honor yourself.

See, perfection eludes us. But the thing is, we’re not supposed to chase it.


7 thoughts on “On the Elusion of Perfection

  1. Perfection can be a sticky wicket. It drives us to be better, grow, learn, and never give up. But it can easily ensnare us, as you’ve pointed out. There’s no need to waste our lives frustrated and shaming or guilting ourselves for our failures. Failures are the foundation, the building blocks of success. Learning to fail gracefully is truly worthy of pursuit. We’ll never reach perfection on this earth, not true perfection. But I think we still ought to strive to grow, learn, and be better with every day we’re given. And when we fall short, well we must never give up. Try try try again. For rejection is God’s redirection. 💖

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a very encouraging read, Josiah! I’m very much a perfectionist, especially when it comes to school. I generally beat myself up on the inside if I get lower than an A or B. However, I’ve been learning to lean on God in my failures because it’s not the END of the world. I need to continue trusting God with my struggles. Thank you for this post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is possibly the most helpful thing I’ve read all week, I never used to think I was a perfectionist until I started school after being homeschooled my whole life. Now I’m stressed about whether or not my paper’s citations are in alphabetical order and image the world ending if they’re not. Of course, God is helping me grow in this and I really appreciated this article. Especially the part about failing royally!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s good to learn practice doesn’t make perfect and it never will, that we can’t be perfect and don’t have to be. That all we can do is grow towards holiness with God’s help!

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s