Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Source of My Perfectionism

This post is a continuation of a series about perfectionism.  
To catch up on the prior discussion, please read:

Photo:  happykatie
So where does this perfectionism come from?  What is the source?   The more accurate question is Who is the source? 

Throughout this series, these words "perfectionism" and "discouragement" come up again and again.  They sound rather benign.  They are not.  The Bible compares our Christian walk to the life of a soldier (2 Timothy 2:3-4.)  We are in the midst of a spiritual war (Ephesians 6).   Let's acknowledge perfectionism for what it is--a tool of Satan designed to discourage.  The resultant feeling of despair is the exact opposite of the joy that is in God's presence (1 Chronicles 16:27, Galatians 5:22-23). 

The weapon of discouragement has the potential to stop us from moving in the direction we should be--closer to God and more reliant on Him.  Perfectionism and discouragement are potent forces that have the power to be destructive to my family.  When I allow it, feelings of despair bring God's plan for my children to a standstill.  Satan hates family.  He will use every possible angle to attack Christian families.

Photo:  Microsoft Images
At times, I feel unqualified to fight in this spiritual war.  But God will not desert me and send me into a losing battle without defenses.  The Bible provides us with specific instructions from the greatest General, the greatest Military Strategist.  He has a battle plan.  He knows the enemy and knows and His forces.  (After all, He created all of us.)  He knows how we can win.  He has told us the best way to fight.  We cannot expect to prevail for our children's spiritual futures if we are following our own flawed reasoning.

Our first efforts at discipling our children will not be perfect.  Becoming equipped for battle is not a one-time event.  Our preparation involves more than making a decision.  A soldier's training is a process that requires quality resources, training, mentoring, and communication with the Leader.   It is essential that we maintain consistent effort and perseverance--on a day-to-day basis--if we are to be equipped to fight.

God has inspired a beautiful verse for myself and fellow perfectionists:  " . . . whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things" (Philippians 4:8).  These are not the thoughts that tend to occupy the mind of a perfectionist.  God, in His graciousness, tells us that we are not to dwell on our shortcomings.

Yet it takes more than positive thinking to win the battle against perfectionism and discouragement.  I'll share more about how to win this battle in my next post The Remedy for My Perfectionism.



  1. Discouragement is big. I think even deeper underneath that for me has been fear. I fear what my inability to change in my children or to teach my children or do for my children will harm them in some irreparable way or that my reputation will be affected. The Lord has really helped me with the latter issue in the last year or so but the former, fear for their futures, has been a more present struggle. I think some of it stems from my oldest hitting the teens soon and wondering if I've done enough or if the mistakes I've made will cause him to make bad decisions, or if the things God has taught be to do differently are too little too late at this point. And I still fight the flesh daily, even as I have been ministered to by the Spirit to do better. All of this is flawed thinking as you point out in the next post. I've been mired in my own strength and lackthereof and need to get my eyes back firmly fixed on Him, in prayer and for daily strength and courage. I'm getting back there but I've definitely had a season of anxiety and I know it has been a spiritual attack as you point out here.

  2. Yes, discouragement doesn't sound nearly as powerful as it is. Satan seems to use this one on my again and again. I suppose he does it because I'm vulnerable to it. You mentioned fear, and I will be examining myself for this as well. Both fear and discouragement seem to be the underlying issues that cause us to carry around this huge burden of perfectionism. It's easy to say "Let go and let God," but it's much harder to put it into practice--especially with something as dear to our hearts as our children.

  3. Yes,"as dear to our hearts as our children". I had another thought about this yesterday. That fear and perfectionism is a way of trying to make myself safe to love. I think it is the fear of heartbreak that keeps us trying so hard and ironically causing many of the very wounds that may drive our children away. It occured to me that in my flesh I am afraid to love if it will mean loss. Perfectionism for me is a type of self-protection. If I just do everything right, my children will not disappoint or have heartache in this world that will also break my heart. Ah, again it's back to trust in God and being able to unconditionally love as he does. This giving of the grace we've been given so that we can maintain an atmosphere where our children are safe to make mistakes, learn and grow, just as God does with us...