Monday, March 28, 2016

Perfectionism: Personal Triggers

There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18

By: Carol McClain @carol_mcclain

It's funny, for years, 1 John 4:18 drove me nuts. I feared--ergo, I was not perfect. If I wasn't perfect, I wasn't accepted by Christ. I was being punished.


Driven by insecurity, my quest for perfection began in childhood. I wanted, always, to be like everyone else. However, as an artist and a writer, I never was.

Furthermore, I seemed a bit dense in social cues. If a friend overlooked me, it was obviously because they did not like me. I'd never say, "Hey, I'd like to go to the party, movie, skating rink..." Nope. Not me.

Even in flirting, I never figured it out.
Think CHAP for causes of perctionism

Since I was an obvious failure...I had to perfect myself.

Since I feared, I obviously wasn't perfect.

Sheesh. You never fell for this merry-go-round thinking, did you?

This brings me to reason number four in developing our erroneous quest for perfectionism. And it is...

First a recap of causes for perfectionism:

  1. Painful Childhood experiences
  2. Heart issues
  3. Legalistic Authority figures
What from your past triggers your legalism?
4. Personal Triggers

I've not entirely figured out social clues, but a few things help me overcome my personal triggers.

I know people love me (how could they not?). I've also come to understand human shortcomings. In our earthly bodies, scars and fears and experiences have marred us. Thus, I make sure friends know I'm available. I reach out. I don't take a one or two time nonavailability as a categorical rejection of me.

For, the need for acceptance is a personal trigger.

For someone else, it could be a desire for love, a quest to be holy, a misapplied ideal, ambition.

For you? Do you struggle with a personal trigger that sends you spiraling up the ladder of perfectionism? 

Quick Tweets

Monday, March 21, 2016

Perfectionism: Cause #3--Childhood Experiences

"Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it" Proverbs 22:6

English: perfectionist measuring and cutting grass
English: perfectionist measuring and
cutting grass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm not this bad. Maybe my husband is?


So far we've learn perfection comes from:

  • The heart. Pride convinces us we have to be perfect
  • Legalistic Leaders. Some leaders or bosses always find fault because you don't measure up

Childhood Experiences

The third cause:

  • Childhood experiences
And these can run the gamut: our parents were successful or they praised us too much or they praised us too little or we didn't fit in as children.

Little my parents did instilled this in me. In that manner, my childhood was blessed.

However, I'm an artist, and I do not see the world in the typical manner. I'll look at a tree stump and see a mermaid. I hear a song and am plunged into a fantasy world where I'm Maid Marion saving Robin Hood.

By nature, I'm caring, frugal, helpful, and loyal. Therefore, people's attitudes and opinions were paramount.

The two elements of my nature combat each other: in trying to be like others, my basic strengths compelled me to be different.

Childhood Causes of Perfectionism

  • Parents too successful
  • Parents too unsuccessful
  • You were too doted upon
  • You were abused
Believing God's word begins the cure

The Cure

"But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Rom. 5:8. Click to tweet

"No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,  neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" Rom. 8:37-39.

Come to the realization that Jesus loves us just the way we are.

Have you struggled with childhood issues that push you into perfectionism?

Perfectionism formed in #childhood can be cured.
Discover the source of perfectionism.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Cause # 2 Perfectionism: Legalistic Leaders

But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” Matthew 20: 25-8

Since my earliest days as a Christian, my zeal was to be in the dead-center of Christ's perfect will. That translated into perfectionism. Perfection turned to legalism.

It didn't help that the church I had belonged to strove for holiness. It taught we could miss God's perfect plan if we weren't flawless. And if we missed His perfect will? How could we live with ourselves?

And for some reason or other--I never reached perfection. As a matter of fact, once when nominated for a position as deacon--in this church, that meant janitor/custodian--the  pastor took my name off the list. He told me, "You've made great strides, Carol." (Sounds good, right? And you know a BUT will follow). "But there's still something that needs to be perfected. Something's not quite right."


No matter what I did, I did it wrong.

Typical example. I tried singing with the praise band--really a place I had no business, but my heart had been right in prayerfully making this decision. We believed in prophesy. I had been told numerous times that I would sing, compose songs and so on. 

At this time, I had been learning bassoon, but improv was hard for me. I figured if I sang, I could figure it out and eventually play my bassoon with the band.

While in the background chorus, never did I dominate. Never did I hog a microphone--mostly, I stood back. 

Then one day, I discovered, the sound manager turned off the mic. I was angry. Wouldn't you be insulted and angered and horrified and sad?

However, I knew how to keep my mouth shut. I don't gossip. I don't fly off the handle--at least it takes a lot, but I did tell someone close to me how much this act by the sound man, a friend of mine, hurt me.

A week or so later, the pastor called me for a meeting. I didn't know about what, so I blithely  entered his office and discovered my friend the sound guy sitting there. The entire microphone incident turned into a fiasco that was pinned to me. I had no right being upset. I was ungodly, unchristian and wrong.

And the fault in this church was always  seemed to be mine. (And yes, I am well aware of my faults--one of which is blaming myself for not being perfect.) 

But here's the deal. Perfection will never be humanly achieved. Holiness is God's alone.

God looks on the heart--and the heart guides our motives. He corrects wrong motives. When we die, Jude 24 says God will present us faultless. 

We have to wait until we die in order to be perfect. (click to tweet)

On earth, our perfection is only found in His sacrifice.

For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. Heb 10:14 (click to tweet)

If you are in a relationship: church, family, friendship, where someone is legalistic and controlling, you must either leave it or correct it or get counseling.

Not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 1 Peter 5:3 (click to tweet)

Have you been in a relationship where people try to control you?

Monday, March 7, 2016

You Shall Be Like God: Pride of Perfectionismt

"For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil" Genesis 3:5.

I am a recovering perfectionist. 

Or maybe not so recovering...but like an alcoholic, the perfectionist needs to recognize her addiction, only then can Jesus heal it. Therefore, I made the first step, and can claim the title "Recovering."

Check that accomplishment off my list: "Perfecting Becoming a Non-Perfectionist."
Use Recommendations
perfection? check

This goal is a crazy thing, because it's not obtainable. It starts out innocently enough. Take engagements, it used to be a man got a ring, knelt on one knee and his love said yes. Now, he stops traffic so he can propose on the interstate.

The sex of a baby used to be announced at birth. Then, with the advent of ultrasounds, at 18-20 weeks, the proud parents would tell friends, "It's a girl!"  Or "We're having a boy." Nowadays? Parents host baby-reveal parties. Guests are invited, and not even the parents know their child's gender. It's a shindig to outdo all other hullabaloos.

Why must everything be sublime? Why do I want to be the paragon of all I do? How did I start down this ant-warren of madness? How did you?

First, we want to be like God--our first sin. We forget that our perfection comes only from God, never from us. Hebrews 10: 14 says, "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified."

According to Matthew Henry, "(Satan) promises advantage from (Adam & Eve) eating this fruit. He aims to make them discontented with their present state, as if it were not so good as it might be, and should be. No condition will of itself bring content, unless the mind be brought to it. 

"He tempts them to seek preferment, as if they were fit to be gods." (tweet now)

How did I start? Probably in my heart. 
Beautiful unless you look close

With an innate sense of inadequacy, I strive to perfect all that I do. I've learned stained glass, but I know I'm not as good as my sister.

I've painted. It doesn't match my mother's.

The bassoon came hard, and I learned to play it mechanically--but put me in a community band? I know I'm a failure.
I did play in cantatas

However, is this the purpose of my talents? God never condemned the man given five talents. He didn't complain that he didn't match up to the ten-talent dude. This middle-guy, investing  what he had, pleased his master.

My glass learning, inspired an artistic friend with more talent. She's now taken off in her skill. My art decorates my home and pleases me. My bassoon? It does give me bragging rights. Who aspires to play that horn? (Forgive me Judith LeClair, Karen Geoghegan--we know I speak metaphorically).

The only thing that makes me want perfection is pride. It's my heart.

I need to learn to be content. My writing gift isn't of the "ten talent" variety like Sue Monk Kidd's, nor will I usurp Francine Rivers. However, words are my "five talents", and I will invest in that. My striving must be to finally learn the truth of I Cor. 10: 12, "...they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise."

Where are you on your road to recovery? Is your problem lodged in your heart? If you have any hints in conquering it, please share it with us.