I’m really hard on myself. Any other performance-driven perfectionists out there? When you start out living life that way, it can be awesome because people who aren’t perfectionists love people who are. Maybe they get on each other’s nerves, but every boss wants to hire a performance-driven perfectionist because they will kill themselves getting it right. And no discipline is ever needed because they’ll be harder on themselves than a boss ever could be. They never take vacations. And they’re always on time.
That’s how it starts out. But as life gets busier and busier, maintaining your status of perfection gets more and more difficult. You can’t just pick and choose perfection, right? Everything has to be perfect. So life at home must be perfect, with everything clean and neat and in order. Life at work must be perfect, with projects on time and people’s opinions of you high. Life at church must be perfect, with all your different ministries under control. Your social life has to be perfect too. And so do your hobbies. And so on and so forth.
“Perfection” is hard work. Truly, perfection is unattainable, but we strive for it anyway. And when we don’t achieve it, we rip ourselves to bits.
Today’s verse is Romans 12:3.
Because of the privilege and authorityGod has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.
This verse is part of Paul’s talk about how the different areas of the Church are like different parts of the body. One part of our body can’t say to the other part that they’re not important (unless it’s an appendix, but even that must have a purpose or we wouldn’t have one, even if it’s just job security for surgeons). The church is the same way. Different people are gifted in different areas, so you can’t pick and choose what parts are more important. If you esteem the mouth and forget the big toe, you’ll have lots to say, but you can’t stand up.
But that’s not what struck me about this verse today. The statement, “be honest in your evaluation of yourselves” is what really hit me this morning.
Be honest in your evaluation.
What does that mean? In the context that Paul is using here, he means that you shouldn’t think you’re all that because you have certain gifts. It’s a pride issue. Don’t think more highly of yourself than you ought to.
But it works in both directions. Don’t think too highly of yourself, but also don’t rip yourself apart because you aren’t perfect. Be honest about it. Don’t exaggerate. Don’t let your emotions or your feelings dictate your perspective about yourself. Don’t let your life situation or circumstances tell you who you are.
How? The first step comes from knowing what God thinks about you.
God thinks you’re awesome. He thinks you’re brilliant and funny. He thinks you’re a great mom. He thinks you’re a great dad. And the plain truth is that nothing you can do or say will ever convince God to love you less (or even more) than He already does. He loves you too much already. So put that perspective in place the next time you start tearing yourself up, you insecure perfectionist you.
You may not understand His love, but you can accept it. Accepting it will change your life.
The second part is finding a way to look at yourself realistically. Don’t let your emotions drive your view on things. Emotions aren’t trustworthy because they’re broken.
As you might imagine, I love to write. I write all the time. Even when I don’t have a pen, I’m still writing in my head. But the biggest problem with my writing is me. I hate everything I write. I cringe at the thought of inflicting my ridiculous sentence structures on people. This blog only became public after people begged with me to share my thoughts online. The truth about this blog is that it’s not about me. I’m just posting what God is teaching me on a daily basis and if someone gets something out it, it’s through His grace and not my talent (especially at this time in the morning).
But, that being said, people have made it abundantly clear to me that I have a gift for writing. And that’s what it is, a gift. Granted, it’s a gift that I have worked very hard to refine, even if I do interject dangling participle every now and then or end a sentence with a preposition (on purpose).
Yes, I hate most everything I write, and nothing I get down ever meets my expectations. But to look at my work and declare that I am a horrible writer (which I do all the time) isn’t honest. It’s a lie, and it’s damaging.
Have you ever been there? Have you ever been trapped in the cycle of self-criticism that stunts your growth and tears you up inside?
Take a step back and be honest in your evaluation. Everyone has gifts. Everyone has talents. Nobody is more important than anyone else, but you’ve got something that God has given you to do that only you can do. Don’t let self-doubt and perfectionism get in the way of accomplishing your God-given purpose.
Chill out. Give yourself a break. God loves you, and He gave you a gift. You’re not perfect, but He is. So He can use you even when you don’t always get it right.