Spiritual Growth and Encouragement for Christian Women

The Perfection Trap

The Perfection Trap

It seems that every time I muster up the energy to attempt to clean my house, I keep finding new ‘projects’ that I feel I should add to my to-do list, which is already miles long. ‘Wow, I really need to organize this closet’ or ‘What is that smell in the fridge?’ or ‘Oh, I really want to make this recipe I printed out from Pinterest!’ Tons of “I want to”s and “I Should”s and “If only”s flood my mind and I then I start to get frustrated with myself for all the things that I just never get to.

If I could just be disciplined enough to keep my house clean regularly, I would be less stressed. If I could just make it to the gym every day, I’d feel more confident about myself. If I could just keep my eating clean, I would have the energy to do everything I need to do. If I could wake up early every day to read my Bible, I’d be in a lot better of a mood. If I could just have it all together, life would be so much better!  

I find myself asking God “Will I ever have it all together?” and I feel as if He answers back “No, you aren’t supposed to. That’s why you need to lean on Me.” Ouch. You mean, I can’t do it all on my own in my own strength? Well, that hasn’t worked so far!

As women, we tend to be pretty hard on ourselves and expect to do everything and do it well. Keep the house clean, grocery shop, cook meals, prep lunches, exercise regularly, be involved at church, reach out to friends, support and encourage our husbands, have regular date nights, throw perfectly planned birthday parties, study our Bibles and memorize Scriptures, maintain friendships, schedule play dates, balance work and family, attend friends and family’s get-togethers, and the list goes on and on. And while these are all notable and worthwhile things to strive for, we simply can’t balance it all perfectly, and that’s ok! God doesn’t expect us to do everything perfectly! What He does expect is that we rely on Him for the strength to do what He has called us to do. So how do we deal with all the increasing daily demands while our energy and time seems to slip away so fast?

1. Recognize the difference between “YOUR Best” and “THE Best.” 

Martha Stewart sure has a gift for cooking and baking and crafts, but I can tell you that I sure don’t! My best dinner would likely be similar to a ‘mess up’ meal that she would probably just toss in the garbage (if such a meal has ever existed in her kitchen). But, my cooking has come a long way in the 7 ½ years that I’ve been married. I’ve learned things along the way, tried different techniques, experimented with different foods and have come to accept that I may not be THE best, but I’m doing MY best and that’s all God has asked me to do. Since we are all given different giftings and abilities, our best in a certain area is going to be different than someone else’s best.

In Matthew 25 Jesus taught about the parable of the talents, in which a master gave money to his servants to keep watch over while he was away. Now the master didn’t give the same amount of money to each person, but instead “he gave to each according to their ability” (vs. 15). When he came back, he was just as pleased with the servant to whom he had given more money to as the servant who had less because they were both faithful with what they had. God expects the same from us. As long as we are doing the best we can with what we have, that’s all He asks!

2. Choose joy and peace, despite imperfections and unfinished tasks.

I don’t know about you, but I feel very accomplished and at peace when I accomplish everything on my to-do list (on those rare occasions). However when my list remains mostly untouched due to other things clamoring for my attention, I can get disappointed and frustrated. God doesn’t want us to feel like that! Instead, we are better off realizing our weakness and the fact that we can’t accomplish everything because that is when we realize our need to lean on God and draw from His strength and guidance for our lives.

Paul recognized his need to rely on God instead of himself when he asked God to remove the source of his suffering.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Cor 12:9).

There is something so freeing about being able to let go and admit that we can’t do everything and that we are limited. It’s in that state where we truly rely on God to give us the strength to do the things He is asking us to do and let go of everything else that really doesn’t matter in our lives right now.

3. Keep aiming for improvement.

Since Paul recognized that he could actually find Christ’s strength in his weakness, he wasn’t afraid to admit that he wasn’t perfect and didn’t have it all together.

“I don’t mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us” (Phil 2:12-14).

Paul recognized his weakness and imperfections, but kept pressing on to grow and improve. While it is important to recognize that we will never have it all together and that we are imperfect, that doesn’t mean we stop trying. We can still learn and grow and give our best effort at getting better at whatever we have to do.

I know it’s tempting to want to have it all together and to have a system or a schedule or just have things under control. But if that were actually possible, we would miss the opportunities to come to the end of ourselves and run to God because we simply don’t know how we are going to do it without Him. It is in those moments of surrender that we realize what is really important and we see just how wonderful and faithful our God is and it is in those moments that we feel God’s overwhelming love and strength fill our souls. And no perfectly cooked dinner could ever surpass that.

Cortni Marrazzo currently resides in Spokane, Washington with her husband Jason and 3 year old son. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. She and her husband currently serve as small group directors at their local church. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on Facebook.

Publication date: August 13, 2013