Overcoming The Perfectionist Syndrome


I’m sure that none of you deal with this, but I happen to struggle with perfection.

In my reprobate mind, I just have to be perfect at everything and anything I do.

Whether blogging, homemaking, marriage or otherwise, I strive to achieve my own deluded idea of what perfect is.

I strive to be the perfect Christian, even though I know there’s no such thing.

I want to be the perfect wife even when I know that my idea of a perfect wife is 380 degrees different from what my husband needs as a wife.

I even try to be the perfect parent but God has a funny way of using my children to show me how imperfect my parenting really is.

Why do I drive myself nuts trying to be what I’ll never be?

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Do you know that I have a mental list of the exact steps necessary to be the perfect wife, mother, Christian, friend and blogger?

You should see it.

If I were to write it out on paper it would probably be long enough to wrap around the earth three times.

On the other hand, if you were to ask my children and husband what I had to do to be perfect in their eyes they’d probably give a simple response.

It would be so clear…

…so understandable…

…so easy.

Their requirement wouldn’t take many words. It would not require much paper if they were to write it down.

It would be so…

S – I –M – P – L – E.

Why is it that I avoid simple and gravitate toward complicated?

I find it so easy to stray back to the path that I’ve worn for complicated living. I’ve been on the path so often that I’ve worn it thin. I know ‘complicated’. I know it like the back of my hand. It’s so familiar to me to navigate yet so burdensome.

So why is it that I choose the complicated path versus the simple path?

Maybe it’s the way that I was raised. Maybe it’s me believing the hype about what perfect looks like in our society.

I can rest assured, regardless of the why, that every time I get back into my “PERFECTION” rut, God will bring to my remembrance one of my favorite passages.

It’s the story of two sisters who had a very special guest coming to visit. It shows me a clear picture of who I am and who I want to be.

38Now it came to pass, as they went, that (Jesus) entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.

 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:38-42

While my checklist of what it takes to perfect goes on for miles and miles, I know that it will never allow me achieve perfection. All of my careful planning, list making and busy work will never allow me to be P-E-R-F-E-C-T.

What it will produce is stress, bitterness, frustration and a loss of right relationship with Christ and those that I love most.

Busy work is designed to take me out of relationship with Christ, my husband and my children. If I follow the path Martha I will continue to chase the mirage of perfection and lose the more excellent benefit of relationship with Christ and other believers.

So how do I apply these biblical truths to my life?

  • I start by giving up on the dream of perfection. Even though I’ve done it time and time again, I must recommit myself to this step each time I get off track.
  • I must then forsake the idea that there is something wrong with NOT DOING something all of the time.
  • I must also prioritize according to my purpose. My calling is not to housekeeping, blogging or any other title that I’ve accepted. My calling is to Christ-Likeness. How else am I to be like Christ unless I spend time with him and his people? I cannot allow myself to replace my relationship with Christ and my family with busy work.
  • Finally, I’ll need to work on keeping things S-I-M-P-L-E. I love how Jesus phrased it in Luke 10:42, when he said, “But one thing is needful”.  One this is all it takes. It seems so simple yet the one thing eludes me on many occasions. But thank God for coaxing me back on the right path. The one thing which I will strive to be perfect at is the act of sitting at God’s feet and awaiting His direction for my life.

Is there one thing that you need to work on today? If you are not too shy, leave a comment below telling me how you will apply today’s post to your life.

Comments

  1. Rachael says

    Thank you for this post!
    I have a 2 year old son and 1 year old daughter. I am also a perfectionist and really obsess over the house being perfectly clean. I have been struggling with exhaustion and I know it’s because I worry too much about cleaning and everything being perfect. I’ve been trying to remind myself that it’s just impossible to have the house immaculate all the time especially with two little ones. I really needed this reminder. Thank you again!

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  2. Tricia says

    Thanks so much for this timely post. I have been dealing with this from my childhood. I am now 50 and thank God for His grace and mercy with me in this area. So very glad to hear I’m not the only one who deals with this…I’m not alone in my struggle with perfectionism. My God can and will help me deal with this and help me to rest in Him.

    For His Glory

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  3. lee says

    But what about the husband who holds their wife to such a high standard that its unachievable? My husband expects everything to be perfect. I can’t keep up with those standards..m.

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  4. Tammy says

    I struggled with trying to the perfect little wife, perfect mother, and perfect woman. It became over baring and it was very frustrating. I would get all bend out of shape when things wouldn’t go as plan. I would beat myself up because I thought my husband wouldn’t appreciate me if I wasn’t perfect. Everything would have to be just right. I was making myself depressed and I was allowing the devil to play with my mind. Thank you for your helpful scriptures. I just joined your site a few days ago and I have really learned a lot. Far as being that virtuous wife that God wants me to be. 🙂

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  5. Velta says

    I have struggled with perfectionism since I was old enough to say the word – +/-40 years. I’m like Pam above, there needs to be a balance between Mary and Martha in our lives, otherwise nothing would ever get accomplished and our homes would be subject to a reality show – Clean House. My battle with being perfect is definitely from my raising, my mother tried to be perfect for my father’s family and for her own, always trying to be something for some one else instead of being for herself; I’m afraid I took on that “sin.” To make matters worse, my parents divorced when I was young, you know where this is going, I felt I had to be even more perfect to win my father’s love and the love of his family. I carried this burden until he passed away 11 years ago, then instead of letting it go, I began trying to be perfect for my husband, my kids, my job, and when I became a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). Then, I did something really strange, I started trying to be perfect for God. God doesn’t want us to be perfect, perfect is not something we are commanded, or suggested, to be. I can’t recall ever reading it in Proverbs, or Timothy, or Ephesians, or any other books of the Bible that tell us how we are supposed to be. Now, I battle perfectionism head on, just recently I decided that my perfectionism was a way for the enemy to attack me. I remind myself constantly that God loved me before I knew His name, He loved me when I was literally and figuratively covered in mud, He loves me no matter what my house looks like, He loves me whether my bills are paid, or dinner is burned, or my kids are screaming and being disobedient. He loves me unconditionally. Perfectionism is just a form of Conditionality. (not sure conditionality is a word – but hey I’m NOT PERFECT :))

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  6. says

    First, I would like to THANK you for writing this blog! I also struggle with perfection and too often I take God out of the equation. I’m going to print this post so I can read it when I need a reminder.

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  7. April says

    Thanks for posting this. I became a housewife a few years ago after 25 years of full time employment. I have a lot of goals each day and can become quite disappointed when I dont reach them. One example is a perfect meal for my husband, hot and ready at the perfect time. Sometimes my goals get ahead of me spending time with Christ who in no way expects perfection. This reminded me of what my priorites should be. You are an inspiration to me and so many other women and I truly appreciate all the work you do on this blog and for Christ.

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    The Proverbs Wife Reply:

    @April,
    Thanks so much for your kind words April. Having this site helps me become better and better for God and the people I love. I’m glad to know that it’s helping you too. <3

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  8. Pam says

    Oh, I so needed this!! I try to do everything perfect especially when it comes to my husband, children and my home. I am a neat, organized freak, I function better when my house is clean, organized but I have to admit there are days that I can’t do it all no matter how hard I try and on those days that I try to be super wife, super mom and super everything else, those are the times that I realize that I am not really being good at anything because I am worn out, over stressed and then I will be a cranky, irritable with my family. I have decided that on those days I am really not just letting God down or my family down but I am letting myself down because I don’t and can’t be perfect. I think women in particular have a problem with this because it is our role as a wife and mom. We want to be everything to everybody but in the end we don’t take time for ourselves and then we get burnt out. My husband always tells you work too hard (( am a stay at home mom) and I love it when he tells me that but then I feel like I need to do more so I absolutely needed your post today. Actually, I think we need a little bit of Mary and Martha in us. Sometimes, I think Martha gets put down and I can see her in me. When I read that story, I think, WOW,if Jesus came to my house, I would want to have everything perfect for him because he is perfect. As a woman,I think that is how women show others how much they love them sometimes (hope this makes sense) but at the same time, I need to be more like Mary who made time to just be still and be with Jesus. Great post!!

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    The Proverbs Wife Reply:

    @Pam,

    It makes perfect sense Pam. We often know what to do but it’s sometimes hard to stay focused and balanced. Good things is that Jesus has given us internal and external cues as to when we are trying to be perfectionist. Keep working at being better for Him!

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