Hi, I’m Mandi, and I’m a recovering perfectionist.
Because of that writing is incredibly difficult for me lately. I obsess over things like the title of a blog post. If I can’t find a title that makes me happy, I can stare at a computer screen for hours. It’s frustrating.
I’m not your stereotypical perfectionist, though. You certainly won’t walk into my house and find ultra clean baseboards, color coded file folders, pressed bed sheets, and neatly arranged sock drawers. My yard is far from being perfectly landscaped (as was noted by my HOA recently in a letter they so kindly sent me). My children don’t all wear matching clothes and have perfect hair. My car is a mess most of the time. I still have Christmas snowflakes hanging over the entry to the schoolroom in my house (yeah, I’m one of those homeschooling moms).
My perfectionism is much more internal. It manifests itself in negative ways in my life. Fear of failure. Missed opportunities. Procrastination. A negative inner voice. Feelings of being overwhelmed by a task. Anxiety. Inability to make decisions.
I don’t expect my husband to be perfect. I don’t expect my kids to be perfect. I just expect Mandi to be perfect. And that is exhausting.
Last fall, I was listening to some Christian music in my car. Songs I had heard dozens of times. And then Francesca Battistelli’s song Free to Be Me was next in the rotation. One line just stood out to me – it was like she screamed it at me. “But perfection is my enemy.”
Perfection is my enemy. Whoa. It hit me – Enemy. My enemy. Who is my enemy? Over and over Satan, the father of lies, that ole wily serpent, is called the enemy in scripture.
Does this quest for perfection come from God? No. Only God and his son Jesus Christ are blameless and perfect.
If only God is perfect, and I was aiming for perfection, than in some way, I was trying, in my own power, to be like God. Satan repeatedly tells humanity they can be like God. It’s one of his oldest tricks, and it started in the Garden when Satan, the enemy, tempted Eve to eat of the fruit so that she could be like God.
Perfection is my enemy. The enemy was using perfectionism to eat away at my joy, at my life, at my soul.
Fear, anxiety, negative self worth. None of those are from God. Those came straight from my enemy.
God doesn’t want me to be perfect. God loves me just as I am – an imperfect human covered by his mercies and grace.
Free to be Me hit home that day. That song playing on the radio that day was a crucial turning point in my journey from feeling defeated and fearful and anxious all the time. When I feel that internal struggle, when I hear that inner voice that berates, when I suffer perfectionist paralysis (thanks, Kathi Lipp for that term), when I think of turning down an opportunity because of fear of failure, I just remind myself that perfection is my enemy.
And I’m not about to let my enemy win.