I'm a perfectionist.
And I don't usually have a problem meeting expectations, or achieving what is considered "acceptable."
Efficient, usually energetic, hard-working, perseverant -
But I rarely measure up to my own standards.
You know ~ the ones I set for myself, and work so hard to try and attain (sometimes driving my family crazy in the process). And yet... almost always and even after all that effort, I fall short.
I can come up with a dozen or more shoulda, coulda, wouldas: "If I'd just ______________..." Then, just for good measure, I'll tack on a few coulda, shoulda wouldas because I can always think of a million possibilities given the 20/20 vision of hindsight: what I should have or could have done differently that would have, ideally, produced an "on-target" result or, at the very least, one more in line with what I'd been aiming for.
To add insult to injury, at this point, I usually start to mentally beat myself up - not only because of my failure to achieve my goal, but also because of the resulting internal drama that results from this perfectionism.
According to Psychology Today, perfectionism is "...life [as] an endless report card on accomplishments or looks. It's a fast and enduring track to unhappiness, and ...is often accompanied by depression and eating disorders. What makes perfectionism so toxic is that while those in its grip desire success, they are most focused on avoiding failure, so theirs is a negative orientation. And love isn't a refuge; in fact, it feels way too conditional on performance. Perfection, of course, is an abstraction, an impossibility in reality, and often it leads to procrastination. There is a difference between striving for excellence and demanding perfection."
As I used to say growing up, "It ain't good."
God is using it as a chisel in my life.
I'm in the midst of one of those shoulda, coulda, woulda mental battles right now - one where I didn't accomplish what I'd wanted or expected of myself and for which I'd worked long and hard. I had striven for more than just excellence. I only achieved pretty good. I certainly didn't attain the perfection I was demanding of myself.
God's chiseling away at my self-sufficiency and self-idolatry and the antibiblical underlying worldview to which my perfectionism attests: that somewhere, deep down inside, I still believe that me, myself and I can figure out how to be more than good enough.
It's a worldview that denies the power of the Gospel, suffocates grace, smothers mercy and stamps out hope.
And I know I want no part of it.
For I know the One Who already DID. And He ain't little.
He is the heart of the Gospel, the author of grace, the impetus of mercy and the harbinger of hope.
(No, this isn't really a five minute write... but it is something that has been tumbling around inside over the past few weeks. Now, it's finally tumbled out as I think with my fingers.)