Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Remedy For My Perfectionism

This post is a continuation of a series.  Here are links to the previous posts:
                        How Do I Measure Up As A Christian Mother?
                        The Slippery Slope of Perfectionism
                        The Source of My Perfectionism

So what is the answer?  How can I remedy this negative pattern of perfectionism and discouragement?  How can I stand up under this assault and not be overcome?

The answer is printed plainly in God's Word.   Ephesians 6:16 says to "take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one."  At the core of my perfectionism is a lack of faith in God.  Satan sees this weakness and exploits it, attacking my efforts to disciple my children. 

Photo:  Microsoft Images

With greater faith, I can overcome perfectionism and discouragement.  To strengthen my shield of faith, I started reading scriptures about trusting God.  What I found time and again is that faith in God is linked to rejoicing (the very opposite of the despair I feel from the burden of perfectionism).  Let me share some of my favorite examples:

   But let all who take refuge in You be glad,
Photo: Microsoft Images
   Let them ever sing for joy;
   And may You shelter them,
   That those who love Your name may exult in You. 
          -Psalm 5:11

  But I have trusted in Your lovingkindness;
  My heart shall rejoice in Your salvation. 
          -Psalm 13:5

  The Lord is my strength and my shield;
     my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
  My heart leaps for joy,
     and with my song I praise him. 
          -Psalm 28:7

  For You have been my help,
  And in the shadow of Your wings I sing for joy. 
          -Psalm 63:7

   The righteous man will be glad in the Lord and will take refuge in Him;
   And all the upright in heart will glory. 
         -Psalm 64:10

In his book Transforming Children Into Spiritual Champions, George Barna states, "In the end, one of  the greatest lessons you can learn is that raising spiritual champions is beyond your capabilities--but not beyond your personal responsibility."  God doesn't expect perfection from us.  Instead, He requires that we avoid the trap of discouragement and passivity.  It is our duty to guide our children's development of faith. If we follow Him, He fills in where we lack.  The process of spiritual training takes steadfast effort.  May God bless every minute we spend and every ounce of energy that we devote to leading our children closer to Him.

To conclude this series, my next post will dig deeper into the Bible to explore The Depth Of God's Love For My Children

Photo:  Christianphotos.net

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.

Photo:  Christianphotos.net