As long as I can remember, I have been a perfectionist.
It’s a blessing and a curse. It helped me back in English class, but it was a straight-up nightmare in art class. All those abstract shapes and colors. I threw away so many things to start again. It often felt like the very definition of insanity.
For a large part of my life I have struggled with my self-esteem. I have often felt like I wasn’t good enough. Just like those pictures I would paint back in art class, I wasn’t good enough. I would start over trying this or trying that thinking that it would make me feel accepted. I imagined that my self-esteem issues could be fixed with approval.
If you have ever struggled with this, then you know that it can turn you into an approval-seeking monster. Your life can become a cycle of ups and downs where an approval can send you soaring to the sky and what you consider failure can send you down into the depths of despair.
The striving. The works. The people-pleasing.
We sometimes create a level of standard for ourselves based on what we *think* others will approve of. A world-based standard if you will. I want you to know today that you were never called to live in this cycle. To live up to those standards.
Paul tells the church in Galatia about this very thing…
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. – Galatians 1:10
They were living by legalistic law and Paul came in to tell them, it’s grace. It’s grace. The same applies to you and me, dear sister.
A revelation came to me a few years ago when I really began to pursue Christ. I had a meltdown one night. That awful people-pleasing cycle had led me to a very dark place. The Lord showed me a scripture that spoke to me. You have probably heard it, but let’s dissect it together.
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. – Romans 12:2
Do not be conformed to this world… Wow. That’s hard to do. We live in the world so how can we not be like it? The answer is by being conformed to HIS Word. Not this world, but His Word. Oh if you can truly grasp that, many things will change in your life.
…but be transformed by the renewal of your mind… My mind wants to believe that I need to be a certain way. To get approval from him or her. My mind wants to believe that my acceptance lies within people. Why would my mind need to be renewed? Because Jesus wants me to be like Him, not the world. He wants me to get the Word of God into my heart so that I will be transformed and KNOW that I am accepted.
…that by testing you may discern what is the will of God… Once we get into His Word and know His character and commandments, then we can live out His will. We can more easily discern how it is that He wants us to live. There is so much more rest when you live out of the Spirit and not the flesh.
…what is good and acceptable and perfect… There are those words – acceptable and perfect. I know them all too well. Through Christ we ARE acceptable! Perfect? Only Christ will ever receive the glory of that description, but we know that His will is just that!
Dear sister, if you struggle with never feeling like you’re enough then I want you to see something today that you may never have seen before. The revelation that God showed me that night when I was in darkness.
You may need to lower your standards.
Sometimes we hold ourselves to a standard that is above Jesus Himself. Are you striving for perfection that will never be attainable? Lower your standards. God says that His grace is enough. He says that in your weakness, that His power is made perfect. (2 Cor 12:9)
There is no standard above that of Christ. Take rest in throwing all of that approval-seeking, people-pleasing, and perfection-needing out the window. The only striving there is to be done, is to be like Jesus. Be conformed to His Word, transform yourself by renewing your mind, and discern His will because that is what is acceptable and perfect!