Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

——-Some of you have read this post before when it was a page, but since I am revamping my blog I had to take down the page and wanted to make sure to re-post it for you all here. Enjoy this snippet of my story! I’m working on some new content for you all and can’t wait to share it! Thanks for joining me.——-

 

Hi. I’m Grace Kelley, and I’m a perfectionist.

Now there may be some people in your life, who if they spoke that same statement, might be saying it in a slightly self-deprecating, but still sort of “toot my own horn” sort of way. That is not me.

I’m Grace Kelley, and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

While I used to think that perfectionism as a problem was basically the closest thing you could get to a non-problem, three years ago I realized the ugly truth: that my perfectionism was actually rooted in the sin of idolatry. And that I was living in bondage worshiping a false god.

My life was overshadowed by constant anxiety and fear; the fear of being imperfect. I could never just let a mistake go and say, “oh well, I’m human! God still loves me.” Though I professed to be a Christian, I lived under an active disbelief in the Gospel of Grace I so proudly offered to others. In my heart of hearts I believed that I could justify myself if I just tried hard enough. I believed I had to be perfect to be loved; and I believed in my pride that I had the right to sit in judgment upon my own soul. And I thought I could somehow be good enough.

I’m Grace Kelley, a stiff necked idolater, proud hypocrite, self-righteous pharisee; and I’m a recovering perfectionist.

Though I  would have said I believed in Jesus for my salvation, deep down in my heart of hearts I was pretty sure he came for “those other people”, and I was such a “good person” that I would have been okay. My view of God was woefully inadequate; my view of myself grossly inaccurate. I don’t know if I really came to faith when I was 4 or not, but whether I was saved or not, I know that God had his hand on me. He comforted me after I was sexually abused at age 7. He was with me as I walked through that Valley of the Shadow of Death; he was my healer and comforter in so many ways, but I only let him in so far. And he still had a lot of work to do in me yet.

I’m Grace Kelley, an imperfect wife and mother; who finally decided to give up perfectionism, and become instead a recovering perfectionist.

When I was 22 I had my first child, a baby girl named Ellie. And as many of you other Mothers already know, nothing will show you more quickly your imperfections, your innate selfishness and your own desperate inadequacy like being a mother. Additionally, my daughter spent the first three months of her life in and out of severe stomach pain as a result of MY diet while nursing her; and even though I had done “everything right” to give her the perfect start in her life on earth, there was still so much that I wasn’t doing RIGHT for her. I remember weeping so often, feeling like a constant failure and wondering why my milk was hurting my daughter. Finally, after three months of weeding different foods out of my diet, I was able to make the final cut that stopped her stomach pain altogether. But those three months left me shaken in my self-assurance as a mother. Those three months shook the foundation of sand I had been building on my whole life, and showed me that I needed to build my house on a rock.

I’m Grace Kelley, a sinner saved by His abundant grace. And I am a recovering perfectionist.

I remember the moment so clearly. I was sitting at the kitchen table in our 600 square foot condo looking out the window and writing in my prayer journal, when I realized what my perfectionism was really all about: my pride. When I chose to judge myself, or beat myself up; not only was I saying to God, “I don’t WANT your gift” or “your gift isn’t good enough for me”; but I was saying in effect, “God, I know you are supposed to be the ”righteous judge’’, and as such you have declared me innocent and clean because of the spilled blood of your own son, but you know what: I think I am MORE RIGHTEOUS THAN YOU, because I think that even though you have declared me innocent, I am choosing to declare myself GUILTY. I am the judge here, NOT YOU.’’

I realized I had a pride problem. That for my entire life up until that point I was choosing to live in the light of what I THOUGHT OF MYSELF, instead of choosing to believe the truth of what GOD THOUGHT OF ME. I realized that the best step I could take towards peace and “good self-esteem” was to actually not esteem myself at all. TO STOP THINKING ABOUT MYSELF ALL TOGETHER. To stop worshiping at the alter of my own opinions and judgments.

To instead simply accept that what the self-existent I AM thought of me, was True.

The clouds cleared. The lights came on.

Ever since that day I have been living with a more peaceful heart, a clearer mind, and a freer spirit. I’m not weighed down by constant fears of my own imperfection or inadequacies anymore; though sometimes of course, I’ll have a relapse and it takes me a few days to get back on track. But even those times, dark as they are, remind me of the greatness of the burden that God has freed me from. I am shocked to realize how I used to live before; and I’m so glad I don’t have to live that way ever again.

I know someday the Lord will remove this temptation from me completely; and I’ll be able to stand in fuller understanding of His love for me, in complete and absolute joy. But for today, I am on the road to recovery. I’m daily making the choice to believe Truth over lies. Daily choosing to accept the verdict of the righteous judge, and to give no thought to my own.

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