PERFECTIONISTS ANONYMOUS

23 11 2021

There are days that I know I disappoint. Even though I attempt to avoid the negative, I still let down others and I come up woefully short of my own expectations. I curse the fact that I am a “perfectionist.” I am not very judgmental of those around me mind you; but my goals for myself are absolutely sky high and lately I can’t even gather enough chutzpah to make it to the ceiling of my living room! The things that I demand of myself at times are so unobtainable, I literally set myself up to fail long before the journey even starts. Can anyone else relate?

What causes us to buy the lie that we are in control of our own destiny?  What deceives me to believe that I have more power to seize the day than I actually do? Positive thinking doesn’t always alter the landscape or reduce the sizes of the challenges smack dab there on my horizon! My Type A personality has turned out to become a huge failure grade on the report card of my heart. Hey, I once could have had front row tickets to see Frank Sinatra in concert, but my striving to be the best I could be got the best of me and I stayed back at the dorm and studied for the exam. Today, I can’t even remember the class that the test was in. The door to see Ol’ Blue Eyes sing never came again. If I had to do it all over again, it wouldn’t even be an issue. I was just trying to prove that I was a good student and one that couldn’t be distracted by peripheral interruptions.  

I wanted those in charge to like me. I wanted my teachers to validate me. I wanted the Priests and the Nuns to tell me that I was doing a good job. I longed for my parents to love me. I was a maniac on the hamster wheel of mattering. You can bet that I was the teacher’s pet. I behaved like a good boy should when those I called my friends were actually having fun. I’m the guy who battled so much guilt at work, I never took a break or knock off for lunch. I wanted to show everyone that I was no ordinary employee. As I look back, I think all I did was cause a rift between those living all around and me. And to add insult to injury, I wasn’t even happy over who I was. I’m not sure that I even liked me; how could anyone else possible see any redeeming value in me?

I am at a stage in my life where I can’t depend upon endless adrenaline and a steady stream of stamina and an infinite supply of energy that used to seem to be available to me at will. I have gone to my man made well and discovered the source is dry! Now in my 60’s, I’m tired of playing the same old games and compromising my convictions to just make the grade. I run to the proverbial kitchen to cook up a meal of substance and find the cupboards bare! I strive and strain reaching for a second wind that has gone blowing in another direction for another’s convenience. And I stand and look for that someone who will show a little mercy and offer some sweet compassion and give some renewing grace and spare the shaming sentences and stop with the verbiage of disappointment and just be kind. I am tempted to make a cardboard sign and stand out in the streets saying, “Will Work for Love!”

One of the obstacles that almost kept me from ever surrendering wholly to the grace and mercy of God was the utter stubbornness that wouldn’t admit that I was utterly helpless and hopeless when it came to pleasing God.  Why would God want me unless I did enough to make Him see I was an asset to His cause? Yet the harder I tried to be perfect; the easier it was to see that this train was going nowhere fast. If I was ever to be free from the weight of religion that was sinking me to the bottom of the pit quickly, I needed to plead ignorance. I was not as smart as I hoped to be. I was starring in a production that had to be cancelled so a new season could be birthed!

Do you know that you and I will never arrive to an authentic paradise until we give up our amateur architecture ventures? As I talk to new friends who live in Shamokin about the possibility of coming to the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church I pastor so that they may see what God is doing these days in our midst, there is a common reaction and a sudden hesitation that almost everyone I speak to has expressed. It is a feeling of not being good enough or the admission of not having it all together or the fear that they wouldn’t be welcomed or accepted that keeps them away from new life! Shame on any believers who come across as better than or holier than or too good for another man or woman in need of the Savior! I want to shout, “Show’s over Folks, time to let it all hang out so that God can clean us up for good!”

Could it be that we sabotage our own spirituality when we seek to impress God and others with our professionally manufactured resumes? God knows what is really going on and fooling Him is not even possible for even the most talented of hypocrites! Yet here we are, seeing life fly by while we bust our tails off to earn something that the Lord has already graciously provided! I can almost see Jesus wincing in astonishment when we bypass His precious gift of salvation only to choose our own self driven scheme of trying to pass off our mudpies as something majestic. The jig is up. I am what I am, and I can’t stand no more. Popeye used to say something like that right before he reached for his can of spinach to enable him to do what he could not do on a diet of candy and cupcakes. Perhaps instead of being a perfectionist, I could become a sold out disciple of the Perfect One. And what if by loving Him just as I am, I could love others just as they are. And I’ll leave the diet of catechism and cold hard facts for the crowd enamored by their own reflection. I choose to lay down the charade and follow Christ. His burden is easy, and His yoke is light. And I’m tired of trying to be somebody I will never be. How about you?


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