Four Ways To Release Perfection and Embrace a Life of Peace

 

Perfect. Such a nice word. If only everything could be perfect, life would be much neater, cleaner somehow.

 

The Merriam Webster Online Dictionary defines the word “perfect” as, Being entirely without fault or defect. Flawless. Satisfying all requirements. Being completely correct or accurate.

 

Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

 

I spent so many years chasing that word, driven by that ideal. To be without defect. Flawless. I felt perhaps, that if I found this place called Perfect, that I would be free. I would arrive. I could breathe.

 

I unconsciously believed that my intrinsic worth was something I could earn. Or had to earn. I thought Perfect was a friend. It wasn’t.

 

Perfect was such a heavy weight to carry for such a little girl. Yet I gladly did. As the years passed by though, the weight grew heavier, more unbearable. I began to trip under the weight of the unattainable, the insurmountable.

 

The more I worked for it, the more obsessed I became, and the more I began to stumble. Unravel. Teeter on the brink. Panic became routine in my tremored efforts to attain this word I could speak and yet never quite claim as my own.

 

I never realized how much damage, how much destruction this one little word “perfect” could do.

 

Most of us struggle to live out an ideal of what we think life should be, of who we think we should be. We struggle to get up out of bed for another day with our lists, our expectations, our goals. We set the bar so high, we could never attain. Never achieve – anything but sheer exhaustion. Emptiness.

 

Is this what God intended for us? Is this the abundant life He promised?

 

The drive for perfection will always leave us scraping at the bottom of the barrel. The pursuit of perfection will always leave us hopeless, drained, done.

 

So how do we overcome the insidious pull toward perfection? How do we find the abundance and peace we are so desperate for?

 

I have found four ways to release perfection and embrace a life of peace.

 

Celebrate Imperfection

 

Every time I become aware of the word perfect stirring inside, I acknowledge this stirring, as pale as it may be. I consciously give myself permission to be gloriously imperfect. I stop. I let myself off the hook. I accept my imperfections, embrace them, and begin to celebrate them. This side of heaven, I will never be perfect. What a relief!

 

You don’t have to be perfect. No human being is perfect. Jesus didn’t come for the perfect. He came for you. Just as you are. Plain yet beautiful, imperfect yet beloved. I am His beloved. You are His beloved. Our worth is settled – once and for all.

 

Release Control.

 

Yes, as an historic perfectionist, I long for control. I love control. Control allows me to believe that I am somehow powerful to determine my destiny. It creates an illusion that I can prove my worth. I feel a craving, a compulsion to hold everything within my domain. Somewhere within me, though I can observe this madness, the control is there, right beneath the surface, calling out to me.

 

Release control. Submit to the messy. Don’t hold things so tightly. Breathe into the unknown. Rest. In surrendering your will, your need to claim, to own, to control, you can settle into the here and now. Release the unknown to God. You are safe.

 

Create a life of Compassion

 

The cycle of shame is the gasoline that fuels our perfectionistic tendencies. I set unrealistic goals for myself. I make unreasonable demands on myself. At some point, I fail. Though failure is a normal part of life, for the perfectionist, failure signals an immense implosion of shame. Shame whispers my utter worthlessness. It pulls me hopelessly into the undertow of condemnation. It compels me to yet once again, set the bar higher, to push harder in the drive to be freed from this shame, to feel for once – peace.

 

Just as peace can never coexist with shame, compassion can never coexist with condemnation. Compassion diffuses the weight of shame and allows us stop the pattern of self-condemnation. Perhaps this is why Romans 8:1 (NIV) details, Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Perhaps God knows our tendency to strive, to shame, to cling to condemnation as a bullying, yet familiar friend.

 

Compassion gives us a safe, kind, nurturing place to heal, to dwell, to come face to face with ourselves, and still be okay.

 

Compassion also means that we stop blaming others. We can never stop being victimized until we are ready to stop being the victim. We can never overcome oppression until we are ready to release our identity as the oppressed. Resist blame. Come face to face with yourself.  Own your failure. It cannot destroy you. It doesn’t define you. You are on a journey. You are in the process of becoming.

 

Consume a Diet of Truth

 

John 8:32 (NIV) says, Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free. When we recognize the harsh, shaming, perfectionistic voice that hides deep inside our hearts, we can speak the truth to that voice. We don’t have to succumb to its pressure. We don’t have to yield to its ways.

 

We can claim our worth, our value in the midst of our imperfections. We can admit the reality that everyone is broken —yes everyone. It is only God’s great and majestic love for us that sees beauty right in the middle of our humanity. Our beauty never lies in perfection. Our beauty lies in the all of the broken pieces that no longer hold us hostage, that no longer keep us hidden and disguised. Out of something broken God makes something beautiful. As God shines His light, His love, His glory through the jagged and prismed pieces of our lives, He creates the most amazing works of art.

 

If you have struggled with the word “perfect,” you are not alone.

 

Anna Quindlen, says, The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself.

 

 

You don’t have to stay chained to your lists, your expectations, your goals. Exchange them for love, for freedom, for compassion, for truth.

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Imperfection. Release Control. Create a Life of Compassion. Consume a Diet of Truth.

 

This is what God desires for you. Discovering and becoming who God created you to be is the most awesome of journeys.  Celebrate the journey.  Relax into the process.

 

You won’t come up dry. You won’t be scraping the bottom of the barrel. You will experience fullness, abundance. You will know peace.

 

44 Comments

  1. Hi Lisa! The hardest one for me in ‘Release of Control.’ That’s a biggy. As a mom, wife, co-worker, and even in my ministry work, I have an ‘I’ll just do it myself’ attitude. I’m working on it, and God’s sweet Holy Spirit gently reminds me when I begin down that road:) I’m so thankful that he doesn’t give up on me! Thank you for this GREAT reminder today.

    • lisamurray

      June 9, 2015 at 9:52 AM

      Kristine,
      Releasing control is the HARDEST thing any of us can do! It is God’s sweet spirit that gently reveals and reminds that it is His power and life at work in us. Blessings to you today!

  2. As a imperfectly recovering perfectionist I totally relate to this post. Perfectionism consumes a lot of precious energy I’d prefer to channel towards compassion and connecting. Thanks for your thoughtful post and encouraging words. #RaRaLinkUp

    • lisamurray

      June 9, 2015 at 9:53 AM

      Astrid,
      So glad you can relate, too! Sometimes I think I am alone, and it is encouraging to recognize that we are all in the boat together! Blessings to you!

  3. Release control. That’s been a tough one for me. Of course, control is an illusion, and a lie of the evil one. I need to surrender completely to my loving, heavenly Father. Trusting that He is good, and has plans to prosper and not to harm me. Learning these truths is a journey, for sure, but God has faithfully and patiently been teaching me. He is so good to us!
    Blessings and hugs,
    Kamea

    • lisamurray

      June 9, 2015 at 9:55 AM

      Kamea,
      Control is the hardest, most stubborn thing ever! It is a lie, but how hard it is to release and trust. Learning these truths is a journey for sure, but in my opinion, it is the most amazing journey ever! Blessings, sweet one!

  4. Love the blog , Lisa. And you’re correct–letting go of all that hinders us does bring us peace.

    • lisamurray

      June 9, 2015 at 9:56 AM

      Deb,
      Thanks for stopping by! Learning to let go of perfection and all that goes with it brings enormous peace! Blessings!

  5. Lisa, releasing the pursuit of perfection is a struggle for me. I love how you said to “consume a diet of truth.” It is only through knowing the truth of who I am in Him that I am able to learn to release the mirage of control I have and rest in the peace Jesus offers. Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your heart at #IntentionalTuesday on Intentionally Pursuing. : )

    • lisamurray

      June 9, 2015 at 5:31 PM

      Crystal,
      Releasing perfection is a struggle for me, too! If I don’t maintain a diet of compassion and truth, I’m done for. Jesus is my place of rest and peace. Thank you for stopping by today, friend! Blessings…

  6. Oo, a diet of truth! Love that! And love this! So glad to be your neighbor at #RaRaLinkup today!

    I remember once discovering that one of my friends was more of a perfectionist than me (and that was hard to do at the time!) As soon as I found myself pouring out words to encourage her to live in truth and grace and worry about what was right and pleasing to the Lord than to live in fear of doing something wrong all the time…I realized I needed those words too! And these ones today as a reminder : )

    Thanks!

    • lisamurray

      June 9, 2015 at 5:32 PM

      Bethany,
      So glad to have you stop by! We all need reminders, I think. Perfection is one of those insidious snares that can creep up when you least expect it. Blessings to you today!

  7. This is really fantastic! Thank you.

  8. Lisa! Thank you for giving me permission to “Celebrate Imperfection!” I am one that strives for perfection every single time. And while I know that it is not all bad to desire excellence in all I do, I am quite aware that I take it over the top. My tell tale sign that I am going to far is when I suddenly have a bad attitude and am frustrated at the very same time I am preparing for a God-centered thing. Love you Lady! I am your neighbor at #TellHisStory today!

    • lisamurray

      June 11, 2015 at 9:06 AM

      Yolanda,
      I always love it when you stop by! Yes, there is a fine line between pursuing excellence or perfection. I lived a long time pursuing perfection and feeling the trap of shame that comes with the bad attitude and frustration. Being able to celebrate my imperfections keeps me centered, focused and FREE! Blessings to you today, friend!

  9. Lisa, I love that I am always your neighbor at Suzie’s place. 🙂 I can definitely relate to this post. As a recovering perfectionist, there are still times when I get stuck in that trap of guilt and shame over not getting things just right. Thank you for sharing the life-breathing truth that we don’t have to be. Women need to read this. Have a blessed rest of you week!

    • lisamurray

      June 11, 2015 at 9:09 AM

      Abby,

      I always love when you stop by! I agree that many women get trapped in the cycle of trying to be the “perfect” wife, mother, career woman, etc. We all need to remember that God doesn’t need us to be perfect, doesn’t expect us to be perfect and doesn’t want us to live trapped in the cycle of shame. He longs for us to know His perfect love for us and to walk in freedom and compassion. Blessings, friend!

  10. Oh Lisa, I can SO RELATE to every bit of this! I love the four tips to releasing the need for perfection. I’ve followed these for the last several years and cannot even explain how FREEING it is, to celebrate imperfection, to be okay with being… okay! Thank you for touching on perfectionism and for the encouragement! #livefree

    • lisamurray

      June 11, 2015 at 3:22 PM

      Crystal,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! Blessings to you! Thanks for stopping by.

  11. The perfect struggle is so real!! Thank you for sharing these four things… they are so encouraging <3

  12. Lisa, that “release control” is something I’m working on! Thanks for inspiring me to #livefree today!

  13. “The cycle of shame is the gasoline that fuels our perfectionistic tendencies.” BINGO! And the further conversation on compassion…yes. It’s always a joy to slip through the front door of your blog. Today is no different, maybe even more so, Lisa. Have a wonderful weekend as you #dancewithJesus.

    • lisamurray

      June 13, 2015 at 7:44 AM

      Kristi,
      I so enjoyed your article at (in)courage this week! Congratulations to you! Yes, shame is what fuels our perfectionism. Compassion is what diffuses. So blessed to have you stop by! Blessings, friend!

  14. Great post! Thanks for being so honest about this struggle. And I love how you encouraged us to replace comparison with compassion. That’s the key to moving away from self-obsession – and the only way we can attract others to Christ. Thanks for sharing your gift here.

    • lisamurray

      June 13, 2015 at 7:46 AM

      Thanks, Karen for sharing. The more we are able to be compassionate with ourselves, the more compassion we are able to give to others. And that is a beautiful testimony to the world! Blessings!

  15. Oh this is so good! I love the point you make on ways to release perfectionism. When you said, “I never realized how much damage, how much destruction this one little word “perfect” could do” my heart started pinging in response. We do damage to ourselves, but also to others with our constant expectation of perfection. Thanks for sharing this today. Glad I checked out you post linked at Grace and Truth. I will enjoy sharing your post on FB and twitter, and keep it for a reference to link to when I write on this subject:) I’m blessed.

    • lisamurray

      June 13, 2015 at 7:47 AM

      Ginger,
      Thanks for your sweet encouragement! Yes, perfect is such a little, innocuous word, but wields such incredible damage and destruction in our lives. So glad you stopped by today! Blessings!

  16. Love this post, Lisa! I needed to these words today! Thank you so very much for sharing! Infinite blessings to you, Love! 🙂

    • lisamurray

      June 13, 2015 at 7:48 AM

      Thank you, sweet Tai! Love having you stop by! Blessings over your life and your ministry!!

  17. I am always looking to embrace peace. Thanks for showing it to me from a Christian perspective. Stopping by from the Sharefest.

    • lisamurray

      June 14, 2015 at 7:46 AM

      Thanks for stopping by, Emily! Blessings to you as you embrace peace in every area of your life!

  18. Oh so good! You talk about arrival…how you thought that if you attained perfection you would feel as if you had arrived. I know that feeling of wanting to get somewhere that’s different from where I current am. In the past, I would think things like, “when I graduate, I will arrive” or “when I get married, I will arrive” as if completing these milestones would somehow transplant me into a completely different life! God really wants us to enjoy the now and to learn to submit to His perfect plan. I am always working on that!

    • lisamurray

      June 14, 2015 at 7:47 AM

      Laura,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed this post! I used to live my life with the very same thinking, and I am convinced that God wants me to find my happiness, my peace, my joy right here, right now – even in the messy! Blessings!

  19. This! “Our beauty lies in the all of the broken pieces that no longer hold us hostage, that no longer keep us hidden and disguised. Out of something broken God makes something beautiful.” I am a reformed perfectionist as well… God really is amazing, isn’t he? We’re still working on some rough spots (God and me), like submitting to messy, and releasing control – but acknowledging the need for change means I’m almost there, right? I hope you have a wonderful week to come.

    • lisamurray

      June 15, 2015 at 7:25 AM

      God is amazing, Janet! Acknowledging our need for change is the first step and the biggest step – everything else flows from that one decision. Blessings to you this week!

  20. Lisa, this is a beautiful post and one I needed to read. I am your partner at the weekend brew. Such an important message. I loved what you wrote, ‘Jesus didn’t come for the perfect. He came for you. Just as you are. Plain yet beautiful, imperfect yet beloved. I am His beloved. You are His beloved. Our worth is settled – once and for all.” Thanks Diana

    • lisamurray

      June 15, 2015 at 7:26 AM

      So glad you stopped by, Diana! I often remind myself that Jesus didn’t come for the perfect, He came for me! Puts things in perspective a bit. Blessings today!

  21. Beautiful words and message about perfect in a world that seems to put it on a pedestal. Your four ways of releasing perfect and taking back your true self are great reminders for all of us to follow. Blessed you shared this at The Weekend Brew.

    • lisamurray

      June 15, 2015 at 7:28 AM

      Mary,
      Though the world does put “perfect” on a pedestal, I have found immense freedom and joy in releasing the “perfect” life in exchange for God’s peace and abundance in my broken, yet “real” life. Blessings today!

  22. Beautiful post Lisa!

    The more I consume God’s truth in my life the more I discover myself in Christ.

    Letting go … to truly become who God made me to be is scary at times and yet yeilds a completely fulfilled life.

    Much Blessings to you

    • lisamurray

      June 15, 2015 at 7:29 AM

      Always love having you stop by, friend! Truth is a solid foundation on which to build a life – God does provide fulfillment and hope! Blessings this week!

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