Hi, my name is Vicki, and I’m a perfectionist. (Hi Vicki!)
It was my friend Lisa who first mentioned the concept of pursuing Excellence rather than Perfection. Her words were refreshing, ahh–like a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer day! It’s funny. Since that time, the topic keeps coming up in my reading, reminding me that I, the perfectionist, must pursue attainable goals, and remain undaunted when I fall short.
I fall short a lot!
If you are a fellow perfectionist, you know how hard it is when you fail…or worse yet, when you fail others! You probably don’t enjoy constructive criticism either. It’s not because you think you’re perfect and don’t want to be told otherwise, it’s because your own faults are already glaring to you, and the last thing you want is attention drawn to them. Do you relate?
Perfectionism can be a very unhealthy thing. It makes us uptight. We worry. We replay conversations and wish we could go back and change them. We work too hard to get a project just right, and never seem to be done (Yes, I started this post over a week ago, but I couldn’t decide just how I wanted to present it!). A perfectionist’s work is never done, because it is never, well, perfect!
The difference between excellence and perfection is that excellence is about the process, and allows continued to growth and development, whereas perfection is an end goal (and an unattainable one at that). Excellence does its very best, and learns from the process. Perfection frustrates itself, and stalls.
I am actually a recovering perfectionist. I can say this because I have learned so much about God’s grace. Grace is the ability to fail, and still remain in good standing. It eliminates the need for perfection. That is the reason God sent His Son: to offer grace, to offer us good standing with Him…even when we fail. There’s that cool glass of lemonade again…times infinity!
I am actually stronger when I allow myself to drop my expectations of perfection. Listen to this quote from 2 Corinthians 12:9 (God speaking): “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” The Apostle Paul went on to say, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
I read a beautiful post on Andrew Peterson’s blog about God’s grace:
“It’s the great, confounding reversal of the Gospel of Jesus. If the word we preach is one of attainable perfection, of law, of justification by works, then when we fail, our testimony fails with it. But if we preach our deep brokenness and Christ’s deeper healing, if we preach our inability to take a single breath but for God’s grace, then our weakness exalts him and we’re functioning as we were meant to since the foundation of the world.”
Here is a link to Andrew’s entire post if you are interested in reading more: http://www.rabbitroom.com/2012/03/what-i-learned-from-scc/
Wishing you the courage to step away from perfectionism and into grace. Any discussion?