Monday, April 26, 2010

Perfectionism -vs- Excellence

Perfectionism ~vs~ Excellence

Hi! My name is Melissa and I am a recovering perfectionist. It has been about 3 seconds since I have had a perfectionistic thought… and that’s only because I am talking… and it’s hard to ponder on something when you’re talking. Anyway, I would like to welcome you to perfectionist anonymous… …Ok, I am just joking! …but how many of us would be apart of perfectionist anonymous if there was such a thing? I know I would be! In fact, I probably would be the president!

I wanted to share how God has been dealing with the perfectionist in me. I am so amazed by His love and affection for me and His desire for me to become who he has planned for me to be. As we began to study Genesis, at CBS Franklin I was a little apprehensive of what I would possibly learn from the old-old testament… But I knew God was going to show me what exactly he wanted me to learn. So… at the same time I was excited… what I didn’t know was that my whole way of thinking was going to be turned upside down. We saw very early in Genesis that God uses imperfect people to do His perfect plan. What ever mistakes, ideas or plans that were made by man, God still had a master plan and no matter what… it would be done.

This got me thinking about my own life and some of the things that I have gone through. Looking back over the years, I realize how paralyzed I was because of perfectionism. It took me almost 10 years to finish my 2 year nursing degree, because I thought I could never do that, I’m not good enough, maybe later after I’ve grown a bit… I turned down the opportunity to be in leadership at bible study 3 times, because I thought I could never do that, I’m not smart enough to do that, maybe later after I smartened up a bit… I almost gave up the opportunity to be a mother, because I was waiting for the ‘perfect” time, I never thought I could do that, maybe after I have it all together I’ll give it a try. Oh my gosh… to think of all the things I would have missed If I would have kept putting these things off. I have learned so much and grown so much from being a nurse, from being in leadership and from being a mother.

I can look back and see that God was dealing with this issue for a long time… but it wasn’t until now that I realized what the problem is. I’ve gotten the lines between excellence and perfection blurred… The definition of excellence is the state or quality of excelling. To excel, means to do or be better. Perfection is a state of completeness and flawlessness. I desired to be perfect at everything I did… But something inside of me knew I could never be perfect. Where desiring to be perfect became a problem was when I thought I could and should be perfect.

God wants us to strive to be excellent as we wait to be made perfect through Him. Perfection only comes from God and it’s through Christ that we are made perfect…. Not by our own actions! Why would God sacrifice His only son for us, if he thought we could save ourselves? Or If He thought we could perfect a solution? God is perfect, His love is perfect, and it’s because of this perfect love we will be made perfect. Psalm 18:30 says, “As for God his way is perfect; the word of the Lord is flawless.” And we know that the book of John says the word is God… so God is perfect!!! We on the other are not. The world we live in is not.

I know that we all have stories about how imperfect this world is. Most of us have experienced a loss of a loved one, a disturbing diagnosis for ourselves or someone we love, some of us have lost jobs, our homes, or our dreams. It’s through these difficult times that we can see God made perfect…. That we can see what he is doing. It’s through these difficult times that God often reveals his plan for us… Unfortunately, most of the time, we don’t realize what’s happening until after the fact. In this weeks study we learned that Joseph realized that through his brothers’ betrayal God was using him to save lives. Like Joseph, God wants us to know that even when life is not going the way you planned, He is in control! He has a plan and what was intended for evil, God will turn for good.

James 1:2-4 says, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” It’s through trials that perseverance is developed and through time that God is making us perfect. There is a poem by an unknown author that says, “Perfection is the destination and excellence is the journey”. We are in this journey together. Side by side we can encourage one another to do and be better.

I have personally struggled with feeling weak or feeling like a failure if things didn’t go exactly like I thought they should. If there was a tragedy in my life, I felt like I had to be strong, I felt like I had to be flawless in the way I handled it. In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul says, ‘“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.”

So, when you feel paralyzed by the fear of failing, when you feel discouraged that you are not strong enough, when you feel like your life is off the path you’ve planned. Remember God has a perfect plan!!! If it’s perfection that your worried about… remember Christ is perfect and He lives in us! Though this side of heaven we will never see perfection fully manifested in ourselves… we can still strive for excellence, we can still strive to be better, and we can always count on God’s plan to be perfect… even if we get in the way.

I would like to conclude with an illustration that I have seen recently. For me, it shows that even though life is full of trials and difficult times, God has a plan. Weather he allows for these trials to happen or they just happen because it’s an imperfect world… There is still good that will come out of it! Genesis 50:20 says, “what was intended for evil, God will turn for good.”

To me… this paper represents perfection… it’s flawless… It’s complete.

…well, at least until now!

Now it’s wrinkled and a little tattered.

A lot like life! We just talked about how perfection apart from God is impossible.
When we think we can be perfect we often times feel crushed when realize we can not be.

We also talked about how God’s perfect plan will always manifest itself… even if we take the wrong turn, make the wrong choice, or walk away from his plan all together.

Life will eventually come back to God’s plan… It just may take awhile.

I also mentioned those pesky trials and tribulations. And how God is made perfect in our weakness. It’s the times when we feel pressed on all sides and cut that God is doing the most work.

Even though we feel like our life is in pieces God is doing a great thing. He has a master plan!

Not only does God have a plan for you… so does satan.

The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy… he wants us to fold under pressure… he wants us to give in and walk away from God all together. He doesn’t want us to be made perfect through Christ Jesus… he wants to lead us astray he wants to lead us to hell.

But if we endure the wrinkles, folds, and cuts of life and strive for excellence God’s perfect plan will eventually reveal itself.
And the rewards are eternal!

Thanks for reading this!
<3 Mel

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