I (Cindy) recently asked our daughter, Brianna, to write a blog for me since I knew that she has a gift of writing and speaking. This is the blog she wrote and, of course, I may be just a bit biased, but I think she did a great job! Read on…I think you will be challenged.
You know those people. They’re that friend you have to pose with for thirteen pictures before they capture the “right” angle. They’re the husband who prints out a schedule for family vacation, or the co-worker who straightens the wall hangings in other people’s homes. They’re the ones that spend 45 minutes crafting their 170 character post to say precisely what they are trying to say. (You know who you are!) Clothes sorted by occasion and color, a maximum of 5 icons on the computer desktop, and excruciating amounts of time spent on projects and reports.
We call them perfectionists.
Now, perfectionism is usually considered a negative trait. And as a recovering perfectionist, I can testify to that! Whenever we become more task-oriented than relationship-oriented, we are heading for trouble. But is perfectionism just a personality flaw? Or is there something deeper going on? You see, I believe each of us are—in a sense— perfectionists.
Now before you think, “I’m not a perfectionist! You haven’t seen my office space, pantry, or garage”…just hear me out.
Whether we consider ourselves an organized person or not, no one likes disarray. In fact, I believe the only difference between an organized and a disorganized person is how much they are willing to sacrifice for that order. If I offer you the option of having a house in disarray, or cleaned and organized, (and you don’t have to do the organizing 😉 ) every last one of you would choose the neat one!
And let me ask you this. Have you ever walked into a chaotic environment where you could just feel the important details slipping through the crevices? Worst. Feeling. Ever. (especially for a person like me!) Now think of a place you’ve been where you could practically hear the productive hum as energy met organization. Which do you prefer?
I believe we are all wired for order and perfection. We just are. Now here’s how this applies to our lives.
Have you ever admired someone or a group of people from a distance for awhile, then had the opportunity to get closer to them—only to notice imperfections? I have. But you know what was worse? I was a bit disappointed about these imperfections even though I know no one is perfect. In fact, if you would have talked to me, I would have told you that no one is perfect. We all have weaknesses, and we are all growing in our Christian life. I always proclaimed that no one is perfect. But…subconsciously, I must have thought they were the exception.
Can you relate to this? I don’t think I am the only one. I think most of us have had this experience. But not long after we discover that a certain person or group is not perfect, we come in contact with another outstanding Christian family, powerful speaker, or exceptional church or organization, and we are again impressed—they must be the real deal. We continue proclaiming no one is perfect, all the while believing they are.
You see, your perfectionistic view of someone or a group of people may last for awhile, but the moment you get close enough to them, you are once again faced with glaring imperfections. You never see the cracks of imperfection until you are too close to recant gracefully.
So I ask myself, why do we continue to assume others’ perfection when we are disappointed every time? It’s like hitting our heads against the proverbial wall over and over again. I’ve been down that road—I KNOW no one is perfect…But then I expect perfection anyway.
Why do we continue to assume perfection from others? Why don’t we adjust our expectations to reality? I have pondered this question. Do you think the reason we expect perfection in this life goes back to our original design? You see, we were created as perfection, for perfection, by perfection. Think about it.
We were created as perfection. Sinless. In the image of God.
We were created to live in a world of perfection. The garden of Eden was our original home.
And we were created by perfection Himself. The infinite God of the universe created us.
But then sin shattered this perfection…and the shock waves of that event has changed everything.
I believe that is at the crux of the issue. We don’t adjust our expectations to reality because we are hardwired for perfection. We cannot escape this desire for perfection. Yet, we live in a fallible world with fallible people. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but this world—and all the corruptness in it—is a pathetic attempt at being “good,” let alone perfect! I believe that our longing for perfection will eventually be fulfilled in heaven. But while we are in this world, we need to get our satisfaction of perfection from Christ alone. He is the only One who is perfect.
So, for some of us, part of solving this problem is learning to lower our expectations and to extend grace to others. But what’s crucial is how we handle the distance between our expectations and reality. When I am faced with imperfections in other people, I have a choice. I can choose to become disappointed and disillusioned…or I can use the disappointment to deepen my appreciation for my heavenly Father who IS perfect. Because He will never disappoint me.
Brianna Mullett (For The Mullett Family)