Are you a perfectionist? From personal experience, and as a “recovering perfectionist”, I know the dangers that can come from such a way of living! To live a life that is driven by self-imposed expectations to reach a bar that it always just a little too high can be exhausting and stressful at the very least.
As I have been reading ahead in the book Unafraid by Adam Hamilton that is the focus of our church-wide study and worship in September, the chapter that has perhaps jumped out at me the most is the one entitled “Desperate to Please”. (This chapter will be the emphasis in our worship services on September 23rd). In it, Rev. Hamilton reminds us that the roots of our perfectionism lay in our fears—the fear of not measuring up, the fear of letting people down, and most of all, the fear of letting ourselves down.
There is little doubt that we live in a culture that almost expects perfection. We have all heard the stories (or lived them out ourselves) of students who study endless hours to get the best grades so that they can get into the best universities. We have heard about or experienced workplaces where expectations are so high for employees that only those who are “perfect” have any chance of reaching them.
The founder of Methodism, John Wesley, often spoke and wrote on the topic of human perfection. While he was clear that in this life we need to strive to be the best disciples we can be, at the same time, he reminded us that true perfection is only achieved when we get to heaven in the presence of the only perfect One, Jesus. And the healing stories we heard in our Wednesday night worship services during August were a further reminder that again and again, Jesus reached out to those who the world saw as the most imperfect with his love and compassion and healing. And further, Rev. Hamilton notes that the gift of God’s grace offered to each of us is given to us not because we deserve it, not because we are perfect, but simply because God loves us despite our imperfections.
Since perfection is such a pervasive trait for so many of us, I am sure that the small group discussions of that section of Unafraid will be very interesting! And if perfection is something you struggle with, I hope you will join us in worship throughout the month of
September and especially on the 23rd when we will tackle the subject head-on.