Monday, October 24, 2016

13 Scary Things About Perfectionism

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Trick or Treat? Perfectionism is no treat and will always trick you into missing grace.

No matter what you struggle with--service, household issues, art, work, family or church--striving for perfectionism will only make your life miserable. Here are thirteen scary things about perfectionism.
  1. You can't do it all. Believe me, I've tried.
  2. Someone is always better to you, and that person isn't even God.
  3. You'll feel awkward in social settings because everyone is better, happier or more adjusted than you.
  4. Someone's always going to judge you both for what you're working so diligently on--or for what you, by necessity, left undone.
  5. Everything else will fall apart as you obsess over the one thing you're trying to perfect.
  6. Someone's going to say, "That's perfect, but what about...?"
  7. Once you do it perfectly, pride will step in. The Pharisees were the ultimate perfectionists.
  8. Emotionally you will exhaust yourself.
  9. Physically, it will make you sick--raise your blood pressure, make you overeat.
  10. You'll fail to see all that you do well because you're so focused on your failures.
  11. Because you know you'll fail, you'll procrastinate.
  12. You'll avoid trying new things.
  13. You'll lose the joy of living.

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Overcoming Perfectionism: You Can't Do It All

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters..." Col. 3:23

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Our church has formed a woman's group we call Tea At Two. Our social was formed, in part, to create friendships among its members. In our socialization, we use our gifts to minister to our community.  It meets twice a month.  This week we're putting together goody bags for the police officers.

Tea At Two

I'm not going. 

And in my perfectionist state, I feel a little guilty. However, by attending, I'm spreading myself too thin (if only that resulted in weight loss!) I know my calling and am learning my limitations.

In some churches, my attitude would be condemned. (And in the past, it had been). The project is worthy. It's church sanctioned. Most of my friends--and certainly, those who form the leadership foundation--will attend.

Nevertheless, I'm not going.

We're each given twenty-four hour days and a limited number of gifts  Mine are in mentoring, writing and glass work. My calendar is full. To attend, even though it's a good fellowship and people want me there, would weaken what God has called me to do.

The above Scripture says "Whatever you do." It doesn't say, do it all.

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Monday, October 10, 2016

Phony Uniformity: Modernity's Perfection

"If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be?" 1 cor. 12:17

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Do you ever wonder if you've lost your skill at observation?

Every time I watch a new TV series with actors unknown to me, I wonder if I'm entering the world of dementia.

An actress breezes onstage who looks familiar. She's an anorexic blonde with silicone breasts and buttocks, because if they weren't enhanced, her thin frame would reveal no shape. Her lips are collagen filled, her nose refined, cheeks heightened and her blonde hair probably has extensions.

Enter actress number two. If she has blonde hair, I'm not sure whether it's a new actress or the same one. Until I get to know the nuances, she's the same protagonist.

It's sad.

Maybe my eyes need laser surgery or my mind needs aricept.

More than likely, society needs to understand reality and paint a world populated with un-doctored humans.

The world holds a standard of perfection perfection we cannot meet. (They've totally wrecked moral perfection--but that's another blog post). We look at ourselves and know we missed the mark.

It's not so with God. He created us--big noses, thin hair, slow metabolisms--and He calls us beautiful. He created us in His image (Gen. 1:27). Although our appearance wastes away, he renews our inner beauty daily (2 Cor. 4:6).

Think of those you love. Do you see them as ugly? As fat? As big-footed? Too short?

No. We see the inner woman, and she glows with the beauty of character, not silicone.

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Monday, October 3, 2016

Step 2 Overcoming Perfectionism: Let It Go

"And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men" Col. 3:23.

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

I hate to break it to you. But being the mentor I am, I will do my duty and let you know.
Let go and let God.

You can't be good at everything.

Nor should you attempt to do everything your heart desires.

Lately, the urge to paint has hit. I love the smell of oils and turpentine. The feel of paint gliding on a canvas delights me. I'm not especially good at it--primitive would be a kinder way of describing my painting skills.

However, my two passions--writing and glass--consume my time. My gifts lie in these two areas. To expand my skills into painting or quilting or working the sound room at church would only dilute my time and everything will suffer.

What is your passion? What grabs your attention and drives you forward? Where do your talents lie?

Don't feel guilty in indulging your free time in these endeavors--be it serving in church, running marathons, volunteering in the Lions Club, visiting neighbors or restoring antiques

You are not called to be excellent at everything

  1. Find your passion
  2. Narrow your focus
  3. Enjoy your activity
  4. Do it well, but don't worry about being as good as someone else
We are all fearfully and wonderfully made. 

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Step 1: Beating Perfectionsim: Strive for Excellence, Not Perfection

"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters," Col. 3:23.

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

For many years, a man I'll call Quinten attended our church. Life damaged him. Not only cognitively impaired, Q suffered many emotional abuses. Drugs compounded the issues, and then he gave his life to Christ.

To the judgmental, Quinten had little to offer. In reality, not a person who knew him didn't love him. When he moved to live with family a distance too far from church, as a whole, the body of Christ cried.

Back in town one night, Q attended a CR meeting (Celebrate Recovery, a Christian variation on AA). The man who was supposed to give his testimony didn't show up. Our director, dismayed over the situation, asked for volunteers from those who attended.

As you can guess, Quinten was our only volunteer.

His testimony, which should have lasted about thirty minutes, went something like this:

"I'm Quinten and I had a problem with drugs. But I found Jesus Christ. Now I'm loved. That's all." He headed toward his seat.

Obviously, this didn't give us much information to work with when we'd break down into small groups. To the audience, Quinten's ability to testify didn't matter--only his success did. The group determined to give him a victory for volunteering to talk when no one else would.

A woman raised her hand, "How did you find the Lord?"

Quentin answered.

A man asked him a question, and Q answered. Then another person asked, and another, and another.

Fifteen minutes later, Quentin sat after receiving a standing ovation.

Not a perfect testimony or presentation, but he gave sacrificially all he had to help others. His humble pursuit in obedience to Christ's calling ministered as much as any polished preacher's sermon.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sacred Pathways: How to Observe Your Quiet Times

"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" Matt. 6:6

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

In my early faith and my idealistic church, emphasis was placed on prayer and worship. However, because the leadership prayed one way, we were encouraged to find God in the same manner.

Regular readers of this blog understand my reaction to this: 
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Thumbs down icon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just as God has given us different personalities, there are different ways we, "go into (our) room to pray."

In his book Sacred PathwaysAuthor Gary Thomas contends we each find God best according to the unique personality God gave us.

Photo of an Gulf Fritillary (Agraulis vanillae...
Fritillary Butterfly
For me, God manifests Himself while I'm walking, I'll note a goldfinch or the light hitting a cumulus cloud or a fritillary butterfly--found only in a few states around Tennessee. Upon seeing this, my soul soars, and I know God has shined His love on me.

How do you find God?

Here are the nine common pathways Thomas points out:

  1.  Naturalists: We find God best while interacting with His creation.
  2. Sensates: We need to use all our senses--sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing
  3. Traditionalist: (Here my idealistic church would groan) We find God in liturgy and tradition.
  4. Ascetics: Solitude and a simple life makes God's touch palpable. Think of John Michael Talbot  who became a Catholic monk and recorded beautiful music in the 80s.
  5. Activists: God is found in fighting for justice--just as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had.
  6. Caregivers: Like Mother Teresa, we find God in meeting other's needs.
  7. Enthusiasts: My idealistic church loved this. God had  to be celebrated in dance and shouts of victory or abundant weeping at the altar.
  8. Contemplatives: These are those who go into their closet and pray. It's that quiet, silent, traditional prayer.
  9. Intellectuals: These people find God in the sermons and Bible studies and actively pursuing him rationally. I see C.S. Lewis in this category

What Is Your Sacred Pathway?

Don't let anyone cow you into one mold. Each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made. Being unique, we each display a facet of God others cannot see.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

Celebrate Your Strengths: Skip the Drudgery

My yoke is easy and my burden light Mt. 11:30

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

Don't Do What You Hate

Good deeds are good: but they don't mean you have to do them.
Work your area of strength.
Have you ever been in a situation where you felt compelled (read condemned) into doing good works you just don't like doing?

The Scripture from Matthew 11:30 always showed me how unsaved I was. Until recently, never was my yoke easy or my burden light.

A church I once belonged to would have a work day. Everyone was expected to show up. We'd rake lawns or spring clean or paint. All worthy activities, but things I hated--especially painting.

Then a need for evangelism would be emphasized. We'd go to a new program and then like good little robots, go door to door. Not a bad activity, but it gave me ulcers. Small groups would mean I would have to get a baby-sitter I couldn't afford and show up.

In my current church, we had a missions' conference. About fourteen women attended and virtually all of them loved every minute. I, once again, stood outside the circle of the "good people" and didn't like it. Condemnation overwhelmed me because missions are good.

The feeling of not doing something that is good and worthy, makes me feel inadequate. I see the joy others have in evangelism or cooking for the church or visiting shut-ins, and know I'm letting God down.

I'm not. 
And neither are you.

Do What You Love

Do you love children like I do? Time in nursery or youth events can fly by.
Do you sew or knit? Creating blankets for the Linus Project is no problem at all.
How are you with social media? Can you write a blog, retweet uplifting resources?
Do you love people one on one? (my favorite) Then mentor, take a friend to lunch.
Gardening? Do it and share it.

Max Lucado says in Cure for the Common Life, "The devil is determined to bump you out of your strengths."

The devil certainly bumped me out of strengths and had me riding the Merry-Go-Round of Misery.

Sometimes we get so busy doing good, we forget we're allowed to enjoy it.

Scroll down to last week's blog and see some resources that can help you determine your gifts.

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