I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist. I don’t think I am one to try to make everything the absolute best or nothing at all. I mostly think that we do our best and then move forward with what we’ve been able to do – hopefully giving our best as we go. And yet, I have come to realize something a bit disturbing about myself. I’m not sure how to label this (like everything must have a label, right?), but it’s definitely a thing.
For those who read my blog regularly, you know this is often my confessional. It’s a place where I am not afraid to explore my faults and failures – which is good because it gives me lots of raw material to work with! And that little clause right there is indicative or symptomatic of my problem. I see my faults and failures, at times, far too easily. And, I see my faults and failures more than any successes. And that’s a bit troubling to recognize.
So, am I a pessimist? A defeatist? An Eeyore?
Life is full of tasks and events and hopes and plans. Many times, if I look back at my day, there have been many things that went well. If I were to list all the things I did in one day or one week I bet I would be batting over .500 in terms of things that went off without a hitch or went well. My struggle is that I see the other side more than those successes. One thing can go wrong, one thing can be falling apart, and then in my mind, nothing is right.
I quite often view the whole of my life through the lens of my failures. Oh, I can put on a happy face and I can still do things that are good and successful, but I am mostly surprised by those things when I get into this place in my head. When one thing goes wrong, in my head it feels like nothing is right. And that’s not a good place to be.
So, why do I tell you this? Well, part of me just needs to say it “out loud” (yes, writing it in a blog post counts). Part of me also wants to work through – out loud – the other side of this. I use these posts to remind me of what is true as opposed to what I feel. And, with that, I hope others who feel similarly might also benefit.
So what is the truth? The truth is that life will have moments of good and bad, failure and success. The truth is you can’t count on your success to save your life and you don’t have to let your failures doom you to a dismal life. The “truth” that comes to my mind is in John’s gospel:
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. (John 16:33 NIV)
Now, in fairness to the Apostle John, he is quoting Jesus as Jesus talks about real and significant persecution in the world. The kind many Christians in other countries face on a daily basis. But one thing I have learned about the Word of God is that God will declare a truth in one context which applies in others. So, while my trouble may be in my head, while my trouble may be my own faults, failures and inadequacies, the truth still holds – Jesus has the power to overcome that trouble.
The key for me is to remember that my identity is in Christ, not in what I accomplish or in what I fail to do well. I am neither a success nor a failure, I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My peace cannot be found in what I do well, and my anxiety is unnecessary in where I fail. I am close friends with the Lord of all creation, brother to the King of kings. That is not only enough, that is tremendous.
Bottom line – it means that everything is right even if it all goes wrong. That turns my world upside-down. And for that reminder I am thankful.
Hope that helps you in your daily walk through the world this week.
Holy high-five to you,