perfectionism vs. grace

Confession: I struggle with perfectionism.

I painted a canvas a couple of months ago and blogged about it here. The Lord had used the verse to teach me sweetly in that season. I put the canvas on my shop and on Pinterest. Lo and behold, the Pinterest world is loving that canvas. I squealed the first time I checked to see 800+ pins! So I decided to put the canvas back up for sale with the disclaimer "**The item pictured has already been sold, but yours will look incredibly similar!"

A couple of days ago, someone bought one! I was thrilled! But as I drew nearer to sitting down to paint it, as silly as it is, I felt fear creeping in. What if I couldn't do it again? What if I couldn't paint it as similarly as I thought or promised? What if it doesn't look close enough to the first and the buyer is displeased? What if it's not perfect? 

These are only the beginning of the fears I fought. As I sought the Lord's grace and strength, I put on some worship music and sat down to paint. Little steps of faith to be celebrated. The Lord encouraged me, and I grew confident. After a little while, the canvas was painted, and I actually liked it.

But then, I had to do the verse. Oh dear. Getting the dimensions just right proved to be a struggle, and fears came back. How did I even do this before? How many inches down did I start? What if the buyer notices a big difference? As I sat there, wrestling with these fears, I had the stinging, yet sweet reminder that my giving into these fears, my crippling worry, my frustration at myself, was an offense to a holy God.

The Spirit stopped me with this:

Whose glory are you wanting on display?

Can you say H U M B L I N G.

Here I am, painting the very words of life, and I want the glory! I want to be praised more than I want God to be praised and worshiped.

 

By God's grace, I was able to see that I was choosing to trust in myself over my Lord. Choosing to care more about what my buyer thinks than what my Lord thinks. Choosing to worry instead of pray. Choosing to run to and worship the idol of perfectionism rather than lay down my pride and independence and confess my finiteness and find mercy and grace in my time of need.

All sin is first and foremost against God. When we let sin rule our thoughts, our motivations, our actions, God cares. He sent His Son so that we would be free of that rule and reign of sin. No action is neutral before God. We were made to live before Him, and we are either moving toward Him in worship and holiness or away from Him in idol worship and rebellion. This is a staggering thought. Even giving into my fears filling my mind while I'm alone painting a canvas are exposed to the One who searches hearts and minds. Praise the Lord for the Holy Spirit who sweetly convicted me and showed me the seriousness of my sin.

So there is one of the HUGE differences between pursuing perfectionism and pursuing excellence as the Scriptures command us. Do you want God's glory to be displayed or your own? The Lord gives a humbling contrast of man's glory with His own in Isaiah 40:6-8 that reminds me of the futility of seeking my glory over His - or more accurately, stealing His glory - because He alone is worthy of glory, honor, and praise. This is serious. And it's only as we see this seriousness of our sin that we can truly experience the grace of God. What a wonder the cross is when we truly get a glimpse at our hearts. That's what those who struggle with perfectionism have such a hard time getting their minds around - the seriousness of our sin, the perfect work of Jesus, and the grace of God - we want to be the ones who get all the glory. We want to be independent and capable and perfect apart from God's work. But y'all, I know this all too well. It. Is. Exhausting. And breeds so much more sin - like anxiety, frustration, anger, judgment, criticism, and even despair or hopelessness. I beg you, run with me to the Lord, asking for humility, forgiveness, newness, and dependence. The life God has given us is far better than the one we think we can run ourselves - He created us! Let's receive grace. Really, truly, receive grace. Freedom is better.


[To learn about grace, I recommend reading the book of John, asking the Lord to give you eyes to see Jesus through this lens "For from His fullness, we have all received grace upon grace." John 1:16. I also recommend Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman & A Praying Life by Paul Miller]

His kindness led me to repentance, and His grace gave me full assurance of His love for me. I am so grateful for His making me aware and for His sweet sanctification even in the quiet. I'm also beginning to be grateful for the beauty in being unique and not a machine!

So let's see if you can tell the difference :)