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When Perfectionism Steals Your Identity

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Psalm 139:13-15

As a child I was raised by a master organizer. Mom had an A-type personality, if you will. I remember my childhood home so well. No shoes left on the floor downstairs. Every t-shirt neatly folded and placed in its assigned drawer. Even food had its own place in the refrigerator.

Then there was my bedroom. I was fortunate to have a mom with a “shut the door” policy. Even though the rest of the house knew no junk drawers, messes, or clutter, I was allowed to keep my room how I wanted it.

When I was about eight years old I remember asking for permission to mess up my neatly folded drawers of clothes. My best friend didn’t have nice and neat dresser drawers, so I didn’t want them either. “Sure,” my mom said, “but I don’t know how you’ll keep anything free of wrinkles that way.”

She was right. I didn’t want to wear wrinkles, so I continued striving for dresser drawers with neat piles, regardless of how hard it was for me or how confining it felt. Through my efforts towards wrinkle-free, I adopted a persona that wasn’t me.

In many ways I was successful being my pseudo persona. But as I got older and my life grew from a bedroom to my own single-girl apartment and then to a full house with a family to take care of, keeping up with fictional me became exhausting.

I tried hard to create the same type of orderly environment I grew up in, but instead of leading me into tranquility; it led me down a dark path of debilitating perfectionism.

Each day I looked around at all I had to accomplish. I knew I couldn’t complete my daily tasks perfectly, so I decided it was better not to do them at all.

The more nothing got accomplished, the worse I felt. It was a cycle of defeat. I became paralyzed by my perfectionism.

When I pull back the layers of my need to have everything done “right”, I see a girl striving to be accepted. A girl trying to prove her worth in what she could accomplish.

However, in the eyes of Jesus I am a woman who has already been accepted because I was fearfully and wonderfully made by God Himself. I am a woman whose worth is secure by the blood of the Cross.

Now, when I look at my to-do list, I remind myself that my worth does not hinge on how perfectly I accomplish each task in comparison to other people’s gifts.

God equips me with the gifts I need for the purposes He has for me, and He gives me the grace to complete them.

Often as women we become paralyzed with fear of not being enough. We look around at other women and mistakenly believe that their gifts and talents must be ours too.

Then we strive to be perfect in every area instead of just trying to be a good steward of the gifts we’ve been given.

Today, think about how God specifically created you. Ask Him to help you grow in that area in a way that honors Him and helps you remember your worth is secure in Him – not in what you do.

Dear Lord, sometimes I use the mask of perfection in an attempt to get my innermost desire met – the desire to be chosen, the desire to be approved by others when really I have already been chosen by You. Today, help me stop trying to be perfect. Help me stop looking around at other people’s gifts and talents and instead, start focusing on the ones You gave me. Help me rest in Your grace that You will lead me to develop my gifts in the way You intend, and guide me as I honor You with them (Ephesians 2:10).

For more encouragement, visit Brenda at Triple Braided Life.

© 2017 by Brenda Rodgers. All rights reserved.

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