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SPIRITUAL LIFE

Banish the Perfectionist in You

By Laura J. Bagby
CBN.com Sr. Producer

CBN.comHere you are once again facing the same problem with the same overwhelming feelings that have a stranglehold on you. Your brain goes dead, your tongue gets tied, and the well of ideas dries up. You are completely washed up, you have got nothing left to give, and you are over it. You have reached that proverbial state referred to as "hitting a wall."

You are about to sink further into that familiar cycle of depression when your well-meaning friend shouts enthusiastically, "Just face that problem! Be an overcomer! You have the victory!" Like a cheerleader on the sidelines of your life, your friend is chanting, "Don't sit down and bawl. Get going and scale that wall!"

On a typical day, you hear those words and you go in armed and ready to fight your Goliath till the bitter end. You are ready to RUMBLE! No matter that you have the flu and you are playing on the soggiest field known to man; you are going to make that field goal.

But then there are days when you can't shake it off, and so you opt to 1) give in to your self-pity and stay in bed all day or (2) blame everyone else for your inability to surmount that big bad wall.

Once you have reached that No-Can-Do, I-Simply-Can't-Beat-It stage, your perception on reality needs an overhaul because it might just be warped. And when that happens, your friend's encouraging words might sound to you more like a hollow and harsh string of sentences like this: "You must be a loser because this is the umpteenth time you have been unable to get around this obstacle. If you were a better Christian you wouldn't be struggling with this problem, now would you? Look, I don't care if you are exhausted and perplexed. You just simply must get over this. You are giving me a headache."

To your mind, your clueless friend has just told you what you knew all along: You are a loser, a disappointment to people and even more of a disappointment to God. Stunned, you react like molasses in a snowstorm: blinded by what horror is looming in front of you and nearly crystallized by the freezing weather. You react to a perceived chill in the room. Meanwhile, your friend can't understand why you aren't following the road to success with heart-felt passion.

This scenario could have been avoided if you had realized that it isn't always what someone says that gets you stirred up inside. Rather, it is your inaccurate and negative frame of reference that you use to interpret what gets said that can cause emotional and mental paralysis.

I know; I have been there many times. When I forget to take every thought captive, when I forget to really own who I am in Christ according to what Scripture says, and when I forget to choose to think on what is pure and lovely and true and good, my performance-based viewpoint rules the way I think about myself and my problems. I forget about God's grace and instead fear God's wrath. I just know I will never be wonderful enough, smart enough, pretty enough, wise enough, or successful enough.

I envision myself as the eternally crowned "Miss Unlovable and Never Good Enough" dressed in a tattered, poorly tailored dress, clomping down the runway in only one ugly and mismatched shoe in a pageant called "Miss Failure of the Universe." I clutch my bouquet of rotten tomatoes as the audience laughs hysterically.

With that picture going through my head, it is hard to believe that I am completely accepted in the Beloved. I have spent all my energy being a human doing, propelled to try harder and do more, that I have forgotten that God intended me to be a human being. I was created to be, resting in the arms of the one who is completely comfortable with this world that I don't know, this world of being. They call Him "The Great I Am" and not, as I often wrongfully consider, "The Great I Do."

Before you wither away under exhaustion or cry yourself completely into the bathroom towel, do this: Go to the Lord. It might seem more natural or more productive to talk to a friend first. Resist the temptation. Your friend is not God. However, God is God and He intimately knows your problem or problems. He isn't mad at you. He isn't disappointed in you. Nothing can separate you from God's love, not even your wrong perceptions.

God knows that you have wrong perceptions throughout life, and that is exactly why He tells you to take your thoughts captive. Ask God to change your mind about your situation. Ask Him to show you how to think about your situation so that you won't get shipwrecked by your feelings. Let God tell you through His Word and His Holy Spirit that everything is going to be OK because He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Let God tell you that He has good plans for you. Let God tell you that everything works to the good for those who love Him. Let God tell you that you can give Him your burdens because He cares for you.

Then once you have gained peace, strength, wisdom, and security from the Lord, you can hear the words of another correctly and hold his or her words in proper judgment. You can esteem and value your friend, instead of seeing your friend as an enemy out to prove your lack of worth. And if your friend does say something that is out of line, you will be secure in knowing what God thinks about you, and you will be able to let those words roll off of you without harboring bitterness.

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28, NIV).


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