Encouragement for the Failed Perfectionist
There are some days we feel the weight of our flaws more than others. And I believe transitions and new ventures do bring out the temptation to see where we are lacking, even if we very well know that we have plenty of strengths.
Personally, I cannot say that organization is my strongest suit. INFP that I am, I’ve always been prone to day dreaming. I never used an agenda growing up, and somehow (a testament to God’s grace, truly) I’ve managed to make it to adulthood. I’ve always battled this tendency of mine, and have been able to improve! My agenda is now full of appointments and dates, and my daydreaming is mostly reserved for metro rides and evening walks. Yet I still actively have to fight my tendency towards disorganization.
I’m also, probably like many The SundayMonday readers, a perfectionist. I have a tendency to set impossibly high standards for myself. I want to overcome my weaknesses, (which is a good thing, might I say) yet for this reason, I take it quite hard when I cannot live up to my standards. Sometimes, I also blame myself when things that are out of control just happen. “I should have known this was gonna happen – why didn’t I plan for it?!” I’ll chastise myself. “Am I still truly struggling with this flaw?!”
Before I know it, I’m in a foul mood, and my inner peace is gone – not a good sign. So in these situations what does the (failed) perfectionist do?
I turn to the best antidote I’ve found thus far- the little way of St. Therese of Lisieux. I’ve mentioned her before on The SundayMonday, but her lessons are always worth revisiting. Therese understands the frustrations of not feeling as though you measure up – despite trying really hard to – and feeling as though your flaws just keep getting in the way.
In her case, however, her flaws showed her the way, because she recognized she was too weak to fight them on her own. In this 21st century world full of “Boss Babes” and go-getters, full of those of us whose role models of women who are “killing it,” we need to hear this sort of advice. St. Therese knew that she could never be holy her own, and she knew she didn’t have to be because she knew the most important truth out there – that God loves us with a Father’s love. Our flaws and failings endear us to Him all the more.
We are like little children trying to learn to play the piano for the first time. We wish we could play a beautiful concerto for our Father, but instead barely make it through “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” without hitting a few wrong keys. And this draws God’s grace and mercy to us all the more. This rich spiritual advice is powerful no matter where you might find yourself: working, at grad school, married, dating, etc. Don’t let yourself fall into discouragement because of your oh-so evident (at least to you) flaws. Rather, know God is even more present in them. He will use them to His glory should we simply trust in Him, not fret about them, and let His grace in.
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