Last night I had a little run-in with Perfectionism again. He just won’t leave me alone. He follows me wherever I go, pointing out flaws in my house-keeping, my parenting, my marriage relationship, even my walk with the Lord.
Some days I can ignore him and others I just can’t seem to escape. And I know it’s Perfectionism and not the Holy Spirit because of his voice. He whispers lies to me: “you’ll never change” or “you’re never going to be good enough” or “why even bother anymore.”
I’ve been enslaved by his words before, but last night was different.
You see, my husband and I stayed up much too late because we were arguing about a financial issue.
I felt angry and disappointed and fearful. The familiar panic of how can I possibly do right in this situation and still get my point across welled up within me, and I knew a battle was swiftly approaching.
I know some of you are chuckling right now, and rightfully so!
It’s the quandary every woman who ever lived on the face of Earth deals with: to obey the Lord and demonstrate respect for my husband or to take control and make my voice heard?
God’s way or my way?
When it comes to submitting to and respecting my husband, I so often feel like Paul in Romans chapter 7. I know what I want to do, what I should do, yet I feel powerless to actually do it.
I’ve believed so many lies for so long.
I fail frequently.
But the Lord is faithful, and I’m learning to trust His promises to carry that work in me, in my marriage, until completion in the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6).
Later on after our apologies were spoken and we both felt at peace, we finally turned out the lights in hopes for at least a few hours of sleep.
And that’s when it happened.
In the stillness of the dark, my husband’s voice broke through Perfectionism’s insidious whispers, “Thank you for being so calm and patient with me tonight.”
Stunned, my disbelieving heart rejected his kind words and earlier tears returned in full force.
“But I wasn’t patient!” I agonized. “I was so angry and so disappointed and I struggled, I really struggled, not to say mean and hateful things.” The weight of my own sin and failure hung about my neck.
My husband’s reply was quiet, yet firm, “Babe, even though you were angry, you were patient with me. You didn’t bite my head off. You maintained control. You gave me space and that helped me.”
At that moment, the truth of his words broke through Perfectionism’s grasp. No, I didn’t handle the situation as well as I would have liked; I wasn’t perfect. Yes, there was definitely room for improvement.
Nevertheless, his words rang true. What normally would have developed into a full-fledged, hours-long fight was briefly resolved. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I realized that we were definitely making progress.
That’s when I saw Perfectionism for what he was – one part self, one part Satan.
Self was prideful, Satan was deceitful, and the combination of the two brought me chains of defeat that I no longer wish to carry.
In Perfectionism’s chains, I so often measure in black and white, success or failure, perfect or imperfect.
Praise the Lord that my Redeemer is teaching me to put on my Grace-colored glasses and see the shades of success, to celebrate even the smallest steps of progress, to proclaim every small victory because of His work in me, in us.
I hope I never forget that moment. My husband spoke freeing words to me last night, and the Holy Spirit confirmed them within me.
Daughter, you are the good that you so desperately want to be, not because your efforts are so grand and your reach so high, but because you are walking a path of progress, trusting in the promise of redemption. I never asked you to be perfect, just willing. At the same time, daughter, you are perfect, not in yourself, but in my Son because He already carried these burdens with Him and nailed them to the cross. They died and were buried with Him. But you daughter, you rose with Him in perfection, a new creation, beautiful to behold, born of His glory. And now you no longer live as a slave in Romans 7, but in Romans 8 as more than a conqueror, confident in the promise that you will never be separated from His love!
2 Corinthians 5:17 proclaims, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. (NASB)”
I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be overwhelmed by such truths, such promises, such magnificent grace. In the midst of my sorrow and my shame, my Savior showed up and handed me a pair of Grace-colored glasses.
Perfectionism, you’re no longer welcome here.
I’m embracing my work-in-progress status
and the grace that has already set me free!
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~ You just finished an excerpt from the book Hope for the Hurting Wife by Rebekah Hallberg and Jen Stults, two women who have walked through the valley of troubled marriages and emerged safely on the other side. Their testimonies to God’s presence and hope in the midst of difficulty gives hope to wives who are really struggling not to give up!
Find additional encouraging content in this book:
Sharing with: A Look At the Book, Make Your Home Sing Monday, Tell It To Me Tuesday, Titus 2 Tuesday, Titus 2sdays, Wedded Wednesdays, A Little R&R Wednesdays, Wholehearted Wednesdays, Grace and Truth, Faith Filled Fridays
Enjoyed the reading were a work in progress thank youx
Thank you for stopping by here, Linda!
I think I need to embrace the work in progress status– first of all in my spiritual life. I have battled with perfectionism for as long as I can remember. Phrases like: ‘you are not good enough’, you don’t pray enough,’ you no longer study like you used to,’ God doesn’t love you anymore,’ ‘you did this…you sin..how can you say you are a christian after all these..’ are words i am very well acquainted with. I beat myself up for every mistake or singular thing I do wrong or don’t do at all.
Sometimes the Holy Spirit reminds me of God’s grace and some scriptures that can help me fight those thoughts.
Usually, it doesn’t always last, as I will quickly run off to start the whole cycle again.
Reading your story gives me courage that I am not alone in this and gives me hope that I can breakthrough this thought pattern.
Thank you so much Jen for sharing, and for joining us at CBC.
I pray that God will use you as an encouragement over there. Looking forward to seeing more of you in the community.
Have a beautiful weak.
Grace, I can identify with you! I was the “good girl” for most of my life and now I’m learning to be the grace girl. 🙂 You certainly aren’t alone because I know many other Christian sisters who struggle with perfectionism, too. I know for me it is a pride issue – I WANT to be good enough on my own, sometimes without even realizing it. And often it’s a spiritual warfare issue, as well. The Enemy is smart, but our God is Greater! He who is in you will give you the strength that you need to embrace that grace, to see the work-in-progress! Thank you for inviting me to join your community, Grace. 🙂
Starla J @ Pressing In and Pressing On says
Great post. His grace is amazing! When we try, even tho awkwardly, God will honor our efforts.
Yes, Starla, I do believe that! He knows our hearts, even if our actions don’t always match up to our desires.
Mary Geisen says
What a brave step! My post today has also been entered into the MY Faith Radio contest. Thank you for the reminder that perfectionism is not welcome here. It is something I have always embraced in my life. Knowing that we have been given grace to set that free is beautiful. Visiting you from Wedded Wednesday.
It’s always good to know you’re not the only one, right, Mary? I thank you for stopping by here and leaving some encouragement today!
Oh! The struggle to be and do perfect instead of listening to God’s view of me… I am still learning to work and walk with God looking at His word, rather than listening to the voice of perfection.
Thanks for this very helpful post Jen, God bless!
Me, too! It’s definitely still a work-in-progress for me, also. I’m happy to hear that it was helpful for you! Thanks for stopping by.
What a beautifully written piece!! And so true. I struggle, as all wives and mothers do, with these same situations and feelings. That itchy voice nudging my know-better…
Now to just soften my heart to hear the Holy Spirit as easily! 😉
Found you at A LIttle R & R Link Up!
Hi, Lorey! I think most women can relate on some level. It really is that sin nature at work within us, isn’t it? We would all do well to pray for soft hearts! Thanks for stopping by here.
Kim Adams Morgan (@KimAdamsMorgan) says
Jen, Oh yes, I remember these days well. My husband and I were just talking about them at dinner the other night wondering how we were ever there.
We lived in perfectionism much of the time. Grace was scarce then. Thankfully God never leaves us where He finds us!
This is beautiful, Jen A dance on how marriage should be; and with each turn around the ‘floor’ (year) we get better at it.
A dance – what a beautiful picture! Thank you for stopping by to encourage me today.
Betsy de Cruz says
Somehow I missed you at #GraceandTruth, so I’m really glad Arabah Joy posted this on facebook. Yes! Yes! I’m a recovering perfectionist too. Thanks for being transparent and sharing your story. We wives can relate, and it’s good to see models of imperfect progress. Progress that is one small step forward is so much better than no growth at all! 🙂
Hi, Betsy! I’m so glad you stopped by here today. Yes, I’m learning more and more to accept that truth – some is better than none.
Alison [Life of Scoop] says
I just found this post via Pinterest and, boy, did it hit my heart in all the right places! I find myself so overwhelmed by the timing and goodness of God’s promises. I too struggle deeply with perfectionism. Your story here is similar to one I experienced very recently. Thanks for sharing. I love your writing.
Alison, I thank you for these kind words. 🙂 One of the things I love most about writing online is reading what others have to say, too, and so often God has used their words to speak truth into my life, too. I’m glad you’re finding your Grace-colored glasses, too!