At the end of this summer, I handed in my final dissertation. It had been a tough year, which I can only describe as an incredibly steep and bumpy learning curve, but I’d gotten to the end of my master’s degree!
However, after driving four hours to Cardiff to hand in my project before the dreaded deadline and successfully submitting what had basically become my baby, it wasn’t pride or elation I felt.
Despite the many months I’d been working on my final project and all the time spent with endless cups of tea sitting in the same position for hours on end while I typed away, I still couldn’t help but think about all the things I hadn’t done so well.
I’ll happily admit that I’ve always been a bit of a perfectionist and in many ways, it’s proven to be quite a positive thing. I was always one to try my best at school – yes, I was a proper nerd − I would study hard for exams and I really believed in being hardworking and consistent, something which I still stand by today.
The Bible even talks about us working with all our heart as if for the Lord in Colossians 3:23, a verse that I try to live by.
However, there are times when we can let perfectionism take over various aspects of our lives and the consequences are not so pretty.
It becomes dangerous when, despite us knowing that we’ve put in the work, we fail to celebrate or acknowledge the results that come of it. Maybe you struggle to accept that you’re good enough because you’re always measuring yourself up against this unattainable standard.
Perhaps you’re rarely satisfied with anything you do, even if everyone around is telling you otherwise. Maybe you’re scared of criticism because you believe it will only reaffirm what you already believe to be true – that your best simply isn’t good enough. Or maybe you have family members who put a load of pressure on you to “perform” at all times.
I’m sure that at some point or another, we’ve all dealt with these kinds of feelings. But there’s incredible hope in the fact that what God says is final.
The truth of the matter is that we’ve all fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). That means that no one on this earth is perfect and there is absolutely nothing we can do to achieve perfection. Only Christ meets that standard. This takes the weight off our shoulders, as we can find peace in knowing that we don’t have to strive to get to a level that is literally impossible to reach.
Instead, I encourage you to find comfort in the knowledge that the Lord has blessed every single one of us with different gifts, talents and intellectual abilities and he wants us to use them in whatever ways we can and make an incredible impact while we’re alive.
We don’t all think or operate in the same way and it’s inevitable that we’ll make mistakes at times, but there will also be many occasions when we’ll do absolutely brilliantly and it’s ok to recognise that. There’s a real beauty in this rocky journey, it allows us to learn from both our triumphs and failures, to grow and to continue to develop our skills and gifts.
There’s nothing at all wrong with trying your best. But, don’t let perfectionism steal your joy, make you feel anxious or stop from going for amazing opportunities.
Just know that you are good enough!