Do you ever feel so much pressure to be perfect? I know that I do, and for all my fellow perfectionists out there, it can be an awful burden to carry can’t it?
Many times, I find myself praying to the Lord and as I am, any one of these thoughts could very well be flowing through my mind:
Is it too short?
This sounds terrible…
Did I already repeat that?
And the root of each comes from the fact that I feel a need to pray perfectly.
But the truth is, that Jesus does not require us to be perfect people, do perfect actions, or even, pray perfectly. The entire message of the Gospel is grace. Grace is a concept that I find so difficult to grasp and my perfectionism likely only extenuates that struggle.
Ephesians 2:8 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”
Grace hinges on the fact that you aren’t perfect (I see all you perfectionists cringing ;)). And as much as we hate the thought of that, it’s true. We are not perfect and never will be.
It’s something that is so easy to say, yet rather hard to put into practice: being alright with not being perfect. And I would be a hypocrite if I said that I am 100% ok with not being perfect, and not attaining what in my mind is the “perfect” standard.
Psalm 119:96 says, “I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad.”
Right there, it says that there is a limit to how “perfect” we can get in our humanity. There is only so much we can do. And even with Christ and the Holy Spirit, we will never be perfect until we come into heaven and are given our eternal bodies.
Understanding this can be freeing, but really changing how your mind is set is much more difficult than “knowing” it. You can know anything and not change your thought habits or actions. Part of recovering from perfectionism – so to speak, is, I believe, giving yourself permission to not be perfect. And to not equate being imperfect or messing up as failure.
Because most perfectionists, myself included, see screwing up as failing. And we hate failure.
C.S. Lewis said, “Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success” (A/N: Taken from BrainyQuote website).
As you find yourself during your prayer time, thinking that yours is inadequate, remember that each fail forward is a step towards a better prayer life. And even if praying eloquently is never your gift, that’s ok. Jesus never said, “Thou shalt pray perfectly.” He did say, however, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27).
I hope that we all will find the freedom in not burdening ourselves with the ideal of praying perfectly.
~ Southern Dreamer