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I grew up a young perfectionist.
A musician. An only child. A pastor’s kid.
Any one of those last three things can apply pressure to a perfectionist – on top of being a perfectionist.
Everything had to be “just-so” for me to be ok with the world.
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Wake up call
I became the church pianist at the ripe old age of 12 (by default- remember, I was the pastor’s kid).
Talk about freaking out.
The very first Sunday I played in church, the sustain pedal broke right during the first song.
Choppy music, anyone?
That freaked me out. I sweated all through the song service.
As time passed, I finally learned how to play all the hymns in the key of C Major (in layman’s terms, that means no sharps or flats).
But it wasn’t good enough. (Not for me.)
So, I graduated to flats. First one, then two, then my focus was sharps. I had a method to my madness.
Too big for my britches
Fast forward a few years. I went to college, got my BA in music/piano and learned to play all the sharps and flats.
One Sunday as I played a hymn intro, the song leader didn’t start the at the right part. The congregation faltered, I stopped playing, and he chuckled, “Can we try that again?”
And I freaked out.
I got so upset that I exited stage left to the nursery to vent to my BFF.
I told her all about my embarrassment, and that I was super frustrated because it wasn’t the first time and it certainly wouldn’t be the last.
Do you know what she said to me?
“My daughter was in a car accident last night.”
Talk about perspective.
Sad thing is, I wondered if she’d even heard what I’d just told her – my whole rant all about how the music wasn’t what it should be at church and everyone depended on me to keep it together and if I didn’t, the whole world knew about it.
A perfectionist’s prayer
“Lord, change me.
Change my vision from near (read: “self”) sighted-ness to far sighted-ness (read: “others”).
Channel my perfectionistic tendencies into people serving tendencies, and let me see to those details with my microscopic eye.
Oh God, don’t let this life be all about me. For what a waste that would be.
The lens of change
And God did change me.
Oh don’t misunderstand, girlfriend, I am still a perfectionist.
But God has a way of sending us just what we need in life when we pray that prayer for far sightedness.
- He gave me a husband that loves people, sees other’s needs, and changes plans on a dime.
All that’ll do it. Especially that last part (gasp). Plan?
Nothing is set in stone anymore.
- He gave me four kids. I only asked for three (I had that all planned out too), but God said,
“You know what, you need to learn a little bit more flexibility”.
And now, I’m a middle-aged perfectionist.
Do I still get my feathers ruffled at the piano?
Sometimes. But not near as often as I used to – I recognize the symptoms, send up a quick prayer, and do an attitude adjustment.
I know this is all about God and nothing about me.
Do I get upset when things don’t go according to my plan?
Not too much. (Notice I am still claiming the title of perfectionist, so at least I know my vices!)
There are people dying without the Lord.
Human trafficking is a real thing.
Kids are abused, babies aborted, and families are being torn apart.
Lord, keep on changing me. Let me magnify Your likeness, and not my own.
Because Your plan is the only thing that’s important in this short life I’ve got.
Perfectionistic mom alert
Do the toys have to be all lined up before you can sleep at night?
Do you get a twitch in your eye every time you find the wrong toys have been assembled together instead of in their proper bins?
When the kids carry out their chores, do you cringe because it’s not done exactly as you would like (aka the towels folded the wrong way and shoved in the linen closet or the toothbrush container is situated to the right of the sink instead of the left)?
It’s ok to desire order. Or whatever it is you fixate on.
The thing about perfectionists is, they’re not always picky about what you think they would be picky about.
We’re a very odd breed.
But be oh-so-very-careful as to not to crush your child’s spirit if he doesn’t complete a task to your liking or he develops some other characteristic that you may deem as an “odd quirk”.
Yes, patiently teach.
But also – learn to let it go.
Remember – God’s ways are so far above our own that we cannot comprehend them.
One more thing: when the kids do their chores, put on some fun music and work alongside them so they know it doesn’t have to be drudgery.
I did this with my kids and even today I’ll put on Michael Buble or Christmas music or something wild and crazy when I’m powering through my list.
1. Patiently teach.
2. Let it go.
3. Make it fun.
Are you a perfectionist too? How have you learned to deal with your tendencies and lean upon the Lord for His plan?
“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” ~Ephesians 4-10 ESV
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