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Editor's Note: We are a non-religious magazine. However, we acknowledge that spirituality is an important part for some. Our Faith column is a place for anyone to discuss how faith positively affects their mental health and how to improve the conversation around mental health within faith communities.
I am surrendering perfectionism.
What do three credits, three pounds, and three verses have in common? Surrender. I have seen God do amazing things in my church, my family, my friends and myself. I have read about His power and His miraculous deeds. I have witnessed His presence at work in the world.
And I have heard His still small voice over and over and over saying one thing: “Give me your worries and your cares, for I care about you.” 1 Peter 5:7.
I had no problem surrendering my money, my services and my time.
But below it all, there was one thing I was too terrified to surrender, one thing that God kept asking for: perfectionism. This one thing took on two principle forms: trying to control my future, and trying to control my sinfulness.
Today, I dropped a three credit class. As thoughts of “I could have done it/I should have done it/I am so lazy/I should have worked harder” rushed through my mind, I heard the small voice of God saying “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Because for me, dropping a class was about so much more than having a manageable course-load. It was about trusting God enough to obey Him in the here and now.
It was about trusting Him to make a way for me to fulfill the call He has placed on my life.
It was about giving up attempts to minimize the need for faith in God’s providence. It was about embracing the call He has placed on my life right now: to minister to the people He has placed in my path this very day.
Today, I pulled on a pair of pants that fit me tighter than they have in six months. As thoughts of “you pig/you should be more self-controlled/you shouldn’t indulge/you should not have eaten anything that wasn’t perfectly ‘clean’” rushed through my mind, I heard the still small voice of God saying “well done, my good and faithful servant.”
Because for me, gaining three pounds was about so much more than recovering my physical health. It was about stepping away from attempts to acquit my own sinfulness with self-torture. It was about falling at the feet of my savior and letting His Grace and self-sacrifice wash away all of my guilt and all of my faults.
Today, I posted three verses on my desk where I will see them every morning.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7.
“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything.” Philippians 4:6-7.
“I will answer them before they even call to me. While they are still talking about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers.” Isaiah 65:24.
In the Bible, Abraham took God’s plans into his own hands and slept with a mistress. He thought God would not fulfill His plan to create a great nation through Abraham and His wife. As I struggled with mental illness, I found myself facing a calling I knew I could not fulfill. I held on to my idols of control, perfectionism, and worry in an attempt to ensure I would fulfill God’s plan for my life.
I tried to be perfect to bring into being an amazing plan that could not take place without a miracle.
But in it all, I missed the two most important things in it to God.
First, I took my eyes of the Jesus who works miracles every day, redeeming us and our struggles as a testimony of His grace. Second, in doing so, I forsook the most fundamental desire of God: for me to love Him with all my mind, soul, heart, and strength. I had committed so much of my mind, soul, heart, and strength to the pursuit of perfection I missed out on the truth of those three verses. I missed out on God’s passionate desire to meet my needs while I rest in His Love.
As I lay three credits and three pounds at the feet of Jesus, I found the peace of God I have been missing in all the years I have refused to surrender the wall I built between us. I pray you will find the same.
What about you? Have you surrendered? Are you living in faith despite your struggles, is God calling you to surrender control and trust him?
I encourage you to make one decision today that takes you out of your comfort zone and into the realm of faith!
We would love to hear your story; please leave us a comment about what God has been doing in your heart.
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