Welcome to the series Trademarks of a Perfectionist: Part 3. I can’t wait to keep exploring this topic of perfectionism with you.
3. A perfectionist feels their worth is based on _______________(fill in the blank)
The final mark of a perfectionist is they find their value in something extrinsic: how many times a week they do their quiet time, how hot they look in those jeans, how great their recent job or athletic or musical performance was, how freakin-fantastic their latest culinary endeavor tastes…you get the idea.
Of course, because perfectionist can’t always meet their impossibly high standards (See Trademarks of a perfectionist: Part 2) they fall prey to feelings of guilt. But worse, because perfectionists feel their worth is based on these external feats they devalue themselves because of their supposed failure.
“I’ll always be alone—I’m such a loser. I can’t ever seem to make a relationship work.”
“I was so stupid to think that I could ever be a good parent.”
“I’ll never play the banjo in front of anyone ever again—I should have known I’m not talented enough.”
“I can’t believe a gained 10 pounds! I’m a lazy good-for-nothing fat piggy.”
This is what makes perfectionism so destructive. When we find our value extrinsically—our worth is outside ourselves—then it is only a matter of time before we end up cutting ourselves down to utter discouragement and even life-threatening depression.
Before we get too close to the self-esteem, “you are a beautiful bud waiting to bloom” bandwagon here let’s get some Bible on this issue.
Genesis 6:5 The Lord saw how great man’s wickedness on the earth had become, and that every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.
Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
If we place our worth on outer things (job, kids, being awesome) eventually we will lose those things so putting our worth on outer things is not the answer.
If we place our worth on ourselves (our inner person—that beautiful bud) we find Biblically that at our core we are all dirty and gross and selfish and completely out-of-control evil.
What’s the answer to perfectionism? Where can we find value for our lives?
In Genesis 1:27 we read, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
Our worth IS intrinsic, but not because of anything we have done. Every human from Osama Bin Laden to Billy Graham is created in God’s image and therefore, has intrinsic value. His mark on us makes us precious.
Perfectionism tells us we need to be more and do more and have more to be worthy and valued and loved. But that’s a lie.
It’s not us plus an immaculate home, or us plus a six figure job, or us plus a size 4 figure, or us plus a perfect service record at our church. Just us!
And if you are a believer you can really party it up!!! Because not only are you an image-bearer of God, but God Himself, the Holy Spirit, lives in you! Your worth is beyond compare!
Of course, there will be days when even though your brain knows “I am a valued and loved for who I am” your emotions are screaming “I just screwed up so royally and I despise myself and can’t imagine anyone else caring about me.” As an individual in the perfecting process, you can choose to focus on the truth.
Or even just read the truth, over and over, until you believe it.
“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God! They are innumerable! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up in the morning, you are still with me!” Psalm 139:17-18
Overcoming perfectionism is a process. Recognizing the symptoms is the first step in being set free! I pray this serious was enlightening and encouraging for you. Lean into Jesus and embrace His grace as you free yourself from the grasp of perfection.