Fear, Perfectionism & Love

Today the Faith Community over at Bonnie’s place are jamming about Perfectionism. I encourage you to take a minute today to check out what others are sharing there!

For me, perfectionism comes down to fear.

My desire to be a perfect wife is based in my fear that if I am not everything Josh needs he will leave me.

My pursuit of perfection in parenting is rooted in my fear that if I make a mistake my children will be scarred for life.

My need to have my home look perfect revolves around the fear that you will judge and reject me if you come to my house and find it lacking.

My work for perfectionism in all that I do is entangled in my idea that people accept and care about me for what I do and not for who I am.

My guilt, my strivings, my rules, my self-criticism lies fully in my misguided belief that I need to be the perfect Christian for God so He doesn’t regret sending His Son for me.

Perfectionism also places fear in me. Fear to step out in new ways, risk it all, and move forward because it might not turn out perfect.

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves punishment, and the one who fears is not perfected in love. {1 John 4:18}

The answer to all of this is love. If I believe I’m loved by my husband, my children, my friends and family, and — most of all — by God, the striving for perfectionism can end.

How does perfectionism show up in your life?

Do you find that it holds you back in your relationships and experiences?

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28 thoughts on “Fear, Perfectionism & Love

  1. Boy, oh, boy did you hit the nail right on the head.

    If I can’t be perfect than I would rather just throw my hands up and walk away. It’s easier to walk away than to try and fail. It’s easier to stay where it’s safe and not risk being judged, hurt, laughed at, left, or worse…ignored. I have faced a lot of fear lately by falling in love with Tony. Each time I open my heart to him, and him to me, I feel that I have landed a fatal blow to my opponent. Fear and perfectionism have won out many times before…I like thinking I surprised them this time. :)

    • “It’s easier to walk away than to try and fail.”

      You have got to be a mind reader! That thought goes through my mind constantly. Hearing your heart regarding this makes yours and Tony’s story so much more amazing! I’m cheering for you guys, and it makes it better than an opponent is receiving fatal blows through your relationship. :)

    • Thanks, Jason. :) It’s something God is walking me through right now, and it just so happened to coincide with Bonnie’s theme for the Faith Jam.

  2. I blog about this topic quite a bit, and I sincerely know it is more for me than anyone else – because I am always thinking,
    “what can I do to make … better?”
    “what can I do to impress others?”
    “what can I do that will prove I am capable of…?”

    Everything is centered on what can I do…rather than what can God do through me?

    I need reminders of this often, because my upbringing was very “works” based – not faith centered at all. Thank you, today, for the reminder that it is not my works that does anything more than He has already done in my life…that it is simply His love that gets me through. And I needed this today as I continue writing my first book – because I started getting hung up on editing as I was writing…and that I know (with a book) is not the way to do this. I just need to write, and let Him guide me to what I have to get out onto paper…editing will come later.

    • So much of what I write about seems to be for me first. haha! Maybe it’s God’s way of keeping me humble. Either way, I’m grateful that He’s “perfecting” me. :)

      I look forward to hearing more about your book on this!

  3. Wow, I’ve felt all those before. I project my perfectionism onto others, and get upset when they don’t “perform” to the levels I expect. I set people up for failure because of unfair expectations. I set myself up for failure too, in that way, but that’s another post :)

    • You brought up an interesting point, Mo. When we set unrealistic expectations for ourselves, we also tend to think others must meet those as well. It totally sets others up for failure. Thanks for adding that!

  4. Fear sucks.

    Fear will hold you back in every conceivable way in life. Fear will overcome the spirit of power, it will overcome the spirit of love and it will overcome the spirit of a sound mind. In other words, fear makes you weak, unloving and crazy!

  5. Fear has the power to cripple people. Love has the power to free people. Amazing!

    Love the photo by the way. Looks like someone I know… I think!

    • Thanks, Moe. My husband took that picture when we were at the Getty Villa. I think it’s a sculpture from an ancient tombstone…

  6. Ooh, very perceptive. It’s rooted in fear. I can totally agree with that. It definitely proves true in my own life. Looking for Love to fight it off…

  7. Tried to get here earlier melissa but it said there was no link. don’t know what the deal with that was. Anyway, great thoughts. I am not a perfectionist (Sanguines have trouble being that) however, I do find I want certain things done right. I also want my church office to look clean and neat. I don’t want to be seen as a slob. :) And just my observation? I don’t think you have much to worry about with #1. Methinks he loves you bunches.

  8. I have been thinking of this today, actually…well, somewhat. I lean towards perfectionism in pretty much most aspects, if not all, of my life. Even if I try not to be that way. I know that I am no where near being perfect, and never will be, but I seem to always try to be. And when I fall short, I end up beating myself up pretty bad.

  9. Oh my goodness. Yes. All of what you said is how I feel, too. Perfectionism is so rooted in fear for me, and also spurred on by fear. Gracious, this post is good.

  10. Love this entry. I battle perfectionism too and although I’ve conquered it in some areas, this post made me think of some hard relationships right now, and how my fear of what those people “really think of me” gets in the way.
    Good stuff. Really good stuff.

  11. friend, love seeing your pictures show up here :)

    This one is hauntingly beautiful… love seeing you explore the world with your camera …

    • Josh actually took this one! He’s got a great eye! I edited it a little afterwards to add some depth to the shadows and color, but it was his shot. It’s fun having mutual hobbies. :)

  12. Pingback: We Try Knowing We Will Fail. The Wonderful Journey Of Flawed People. « A Friend to Yourself

  13. Hi Melissa, good message. Perfectionism at one point nearly destroyed me. I based any self-worth I had only on that which I felt I did perfect. I alway would do more, give more, and just overdo in all things in order to feel worty of love. One flaw made me feel unworthy of any love. Christ has taken me from this lie to the truth of who I am in him. I don’t have to prove myself to Jesus, he loves me as I am and in my weakness his power is made greater. What a burden to have lifted. My worth is in him not in any “perfect” ways of my own.

  14. Believe first of all that we are loved and accepted by God…then everything else falls into place.
    The trouble is, we cannot seem to do that PERFECTLY. Because we are by nature imperfect, we cannot ever, in our own strength, attain perfection. It is only when we rely on Jesus to be perfection for us, that we begin to move towards it.

  15. Perfectionism is so much more than people think, yet it does not often take on the normal forms. I am not OCD. I don’t freak out when people move my things. And I have learned to just say “screw it” and hand in essays and projects even though i want to review them one more time… But I deal with perfectionism everyday. I always look for the best opportunity and usually miss out on all the good ones along the way. I miss out on much-needed feedback because I fear that people will criticize my work and I will somehow be less. But most importantly I am constantly second-guessing my relationships and always expecting people to be perfect. I fear my perfectionism is going to make me a sad lonely old man…

    I found this article to really hit the nail on the head:
    http://www.loveletterbox.com/love_advice_perfectionism_dangerous_trap.htm

    I think the religious aspect is interesting. If I had to classify myself I’d be an agnostic. I cannot imagine feeling as though I am failing God…

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