Hey there! I’m interrupting your normal desserts to introduce a new series I’m giving a try. It’s called Thursday thoughts.
If you’re a regular reader then you know I recently published a post about feeding hungry hearts. The WMM mission is to feed hungry bellies with delicious dessert recipes (healthy and indulgent!) and feed hungry hearts with grace, love and encouragement. It’s been weighing on my heart to share more and open up to serve those people who stumble upon or intentionally visit my blog.
So every Thursday I’m going to do a post on the thoughts swarming my head and anything specific that’s been pressing on my heart. It could be something super deep (like perfection), an interesting thing I learned or heard from someone else, or it could be inspiration for all the recipes I want to make. Or a combination of them. Which is kinda where I’m headed today.
I read a life changing book last year. It took something I’ve struggled with my entire life and laid it in front of me like a giant wake up call. That something is perfection. And that book is called, “You’re Loved No Matter What: Freeing Your Heart from the Need to be Perfect.”
It helped me so much that I just re-read it again and then we discussed it in my girls connect group. And that’s when I realized I’m not alone and that so many people, specifically women, struggle with perfection.
I want to share some eye-opening moments I had while reading the book and a few of the practical ways to overcome perfection. I’m by no means the writer of this book and give so much credit to the incredible Holley Gerth for dropping so much knowledge and perspective. So here you’ll see a mix of her thoughts with the lens of my life + some additional nuggets. And if you can totally relate to all of this then I highly recommend buying and reading the entire book.
The Appeal of Being Perfect
Everyone struggles with perfection. Why? What is it about being perfect that draws us in and pulls on our heartstrings?
I had the privilege of attending an awesome conference recently and I wanted to make sure everyone knew it. But I could only post the perfect video of myself on Instagram because I needed everyone to think how perfect my life and the trip was. I spent a few too many minutes redoing the video and worrying about how it would turn out and then far too many minutes on writing the perfect, witty caption.
What everyone didn’t see was the rain pouring that day and ruining my hair or the 3 hour flight delay or the fact that I was literally walking around Austin, TX by myself all day. What they saw was the perfect image of me being as happy as a clam in a cool city doing cool things for my cool job.
Why? Because at the end of the day I want to be accepted because I’m fearful of rejection.
“At the root of every desire for perfection is simply this: fear. The way we battle fear as humans is through control. And being perfect is the ultimate expression of control.”
The way we combat fear is through control and perfection. I was fearful of rejection and afraid of what other people are going to think about me, so I had to control the perfect pictures to make sure everyone thought I had the perfect life so I would be accepted.
And wanna know the crazy part? I already am accepted. And so deeply loved. And so are you.
Why You Don’t Need to Try to Be Perfect
This part is quite simple, actually. And it’s this concept: you are so loved by God. The one that created you and numbered the hairs on your head. He made you with His perfect love and no one else is like you. And they aren’t supposed to be.
And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.” [Matthew 3:17]
When Jesus was getting baptized God made it clear that he was dearly loved and that he brings Him great joy. He was a baby who had accomplished absolutely nothing in the world besides existing and God perfectly loved him. Our pastor explained this to our church recently and it was another paradigm shift in my life.
The same thing God said about Jesus is true for you and I. He created you for this world and before you took that perfect picture He loved you. And before you had a spotless kitchen He loved you. And before (and after) you gave the big presentation at work He loved you. And before that boy texted you back He loved you. Actually, before you did anything at all He loved you. We don’t have to prove ourselves to be completely loved. Ah, that’s a relief.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.” (1 John 4:18).
Essentially, fear and love can’t exist at the same time. And since fear is the main driver of perfection than love and perfection can’t exist at the same time either. If you struggle with perfection because of fear you may miss out on a whole lot of love. Because you can’t have both.
So rest in this: you don’t have to try to be perfect to prove yourself because you are totally and completely loved just as you are.
How to Overcome Perfection:
In the book, Holley covers 6 practical ways to help us overcome perfection. Because, let’s be honest, we’re all human and we’re not going to get it right every time. Just by writing these words I won’t be instantly cured of perfectionism. I’ll likely battle this my whole life. But knowing this truth and following some easy steps have definitely changed my life for the better and freed my heart to fill with more love.
- Pursue excellence not perfection. Trying to stop being perfect doesn’t mean you have to stop trying all together. It just means changing what you’re striving for. Instead of striving to be perfect to achieve other’s love let’s use the love we know we already have as motivation to share our gifts with the world. Excellence means “doing what you can, with what you have, where you are, as you are.” One day excellent could look like brake and bake cookies because you worked 10 hours or it could mean a gorgeous layer cake on a Sunday afternoon. Let’s be okay with either one.
- Accept that not everything is going to be excellent. You can strive for excellence in your life but that doesn’t mean you’re supposed to be excellent at everything. I strive for excellence in baking but Lord knows I’m not an excellent cook. We only have so much time and energy in our days so let’s figure out the things in life we want and can be excellent at and then be okay with not being excellent at the rest.
- Live with gratitude. One of the best ways to combat perfectionism is through gratitude. Perfection says “I don’t have the perfect outfit to wear this weekend” and gratitude says, “I’m so grateful I have clothes to keep me warm.” When we change our perspective of how we see the world we can free ourselves from trying to be perfect. Another way to use gratitude to overcome perfection is by giving grace to others. When we stop holding others to perfect standards we’re reminded that if other’s don’t have to be perfect neither do we. Let’s stop looking at other women and judging their outfits or their job title and start loving them unconditionally. When we do that we give ourselves permission to do the same.
- Treat Life like an Experiment, Not A Test. The only way to grow and learn is to step out in faith. You have to give something a try to see what happens and learn from it. When we’re trying to control everything and be perfect we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to fail and try something new because we’re afraid it won’t be perfect. Remember you are loved no matter what then take a risk. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, learn from it. Either way you pass.
- Learn to Know What You Need and Ask For It. Another idea that gets coupled with perfection is pride. When you try to be perfect and control everyone’s perception of you, you will become exhausted keeping up a front that no one expects from you. You, me, and everyone else were not created to be able to do everything on our own. God created us to need him and each other. Know what you’re excellent at and then use that to ask for help to fill in the gaps. Raise your hand and open your heart and be okay with saying you need help. Because even when you do need help you’re still unconditionally loved.
- Surround Yourself with People Who Care About Being Real. Put yourself in the best situation to succeed. That means surrounding yourself with people who care more about being real than they do about being perfect. They definitely won’t get this right all of the time, and that’s the way it should be, but they are trying to care more about your heart than making you prove yourself for their affection.
I know I will struggle with perfection for the rest of my time on this earth. I’m not going to try to be perfect at not being perfect. That would be double exhausting. I’m going to try to remember these ways to get a little bit better every day, give myself and others a whole lot of grace and remember that I’m loved no matter what.
“Your heart isn’t made to try to control your world or the people in it so you can feel safe. Doing so not only is impossible, but it will fill you with fear and anxiety. You don’t have to try so hard to make sure you’re okay. Instead, you can rest in the One who promises no matter what may happen in this life, you will be secure forever because His love will never fail.” – Your Loved No Matter What (page 89).
Things I’m loving this week
These BANANA BREAD CINNAMON ROLLS are basically everything.
For all my fellow veggie loving friends, these CRIPY ZUCCHINI TACOS are to die for.
MINT CHOCOLATE DATE NUT BARS are raw and healthy and covered in chocolate.
I’m already envisioning all the fillings for these PALEO CREPES.
This PINEAPPLE BEET TURMERIC ELIXIR is transporting me right on into spring/summer.
It’s hard not to drool when ROASTED CARROTS look this good.
What’s on my reading list:
I just finished YOU’RE MADE FOR A GOD SIZED DREAM. It’s what gave me the push to share more than just recipes here. Highly recommend.
Just started reading CHASING SLOW. Loving it!
I’m dying to read UNINVITED. All of my friends have read it and rave about it.
Also: PRESENT OVER PERFECT.