While I know that God changes me, there’s this thing inside of me that makes me feel as though I need to make everything right – immediately. You see, I’m a recovering perfectionist. It took me a long time to see that my perfectionism was harming rather than helping me. In fact, I have a funny story about that.
I’ve always been intrigued by how our upbringing effects the adult we become. So, I decided to read The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman. He has a wonderful way of writing that often had me laughing out loud and nodding my head in agreement. I really enjoyed the book until I came to chapter six. That chapter is called Perfect – or Excellent? The title didn’t scare me, but the content was hard to accept.
I learned how perfectionism is a detriment not a strength. It eventually explains ways to strive for excellence and let go of perfect. I didn’t get that far on my first pass through the book. What did I do? I was so upset that I wasn’t perfect at not being perfect that I stopped reading the book. I had to put it away. How bad is that!?!
I did find the strength through prayer and time to pick it up again and finish the book, and I’m glad I did. Part of being a recovering perfectionist is that I have to accept that change and improvement are processes. It’s not all done at once nor is instant change expected.
Consider change in terms of fitness or eating habits. I’ve been saying over and over that diets don’t work, but lifestyle changes do. Life changes take time. Life changes happen over many weeks and the change is incorporated into our habits. That’s why I suggested changing one meal at a time. We started with breakfast two weeks ago. This week it’s time to work on lunch. By no means would I expect or want someone to change everything by tomorrow.
The same is true of God changing us. First, it’s worth mentioning that we should bring our fitness and health concerns and desires to him before we do anything. He should be out ultimate guide. Second, he doesn’t expect us to change into the perfect follower of Jesus overnight. Over and over again in the Old Testament, he shows us that the people of Israel were unable to fulfill the law, even when they had the best intentions. Over and over again in the New Testament, amazing pillars of faith and service fail or describe how they know they should change, but sin still wars within them.
I still find it hard at times to accept God’s work in me over the long run. I know it in my head, but my emotions feel failure. That is why I’m so thankful for verses like 2 Corinthians 3:18:
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”
I have to remind myself that we are being transformed (that’s present tense), and that it isn’t me who is doing a whole lot of good, but God working in me. I’ll leave you with a quote that I’m pondering. It’s based on the verse above and from a book called The Discipline of Grace by Jerry Bridges.
“Sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in us whereby our inner being is progressively changed, freeing us more and more from sinful traits and developing within us over time the virtues of Christlike character. However, though sanctification is the work of the Holy Spirit in us, it does involve our wholehearted response in obedience and the regular use of the spiritual disciplines that are instruments of sanctification. “
There’s a lot in there. Think about it. Pray about it.
The blog posts mentioned are:
The books mentioned are:
The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are
by Dr. Keven Leman