The Chains of Perfectionism

Posted on April 26, 2012 by

“…a man is not usually called upon to have an opinion of his own talents at all, since he can very well go on improving them to the best of his ability without deciding on his own precise niche in the temple of Fame.”  CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

While we are called to work to the best of our abilities in all things, doing all things as unto the Lord… we are not called upon to be equally talented or equally skillful.  Allowing ourselves to be chained by perfectionism is allowing our talents to go unused and our skills unsharpened simply because we do not see that our first (or second, or third) works are at the pinnacle of achievement.Perfectionism, therefore, is to be treated as a lie and a snare.  Assuming that we are, in fact, doing our best – choosing to not-do or to destroy what we have done is a variety of Pride.

Living in the modern world, where much “carving” is done by a plastic mold, and most of what we use and wear is made in a giant factory with machines far out of the reach of most pocketbooks, we are used to looking at soulless perfection.  When we escape that and start searching out crafts of the past, we see what has endured through the centuries, most of which was the work of great masters.   We then use these metrics to critique our own work, and of course our work suffers in comparison.

In order to become skilled at anything, one must walk through the valley of the shadow of messiness.

Perhaps we are not called to be the best crafters that the world has ever seen, but in the process of craft, in the humility and thrill of learning new lessons, our character is given an opportunity to develop and our creativity – one way in which we are very like our Maker – is given the opportunity to thrive.

Creation is a mirror in which our faults are brought to surface, and as such, is of spiritual benefit.  Perfectionism is a chain that prevents us from reaching that mirror and prevents us from using the talents God has provided us with.  Much as God rebuked the unfaithful servant for burying his talent in the ground so that it would not come to loss, He will rebuke us for the lost opportunities to use the talents we have been given.

When we clamor – as non-experts – that we are not roses, we deprive the world of daisies, violets, and dandelions.  Our world has become a very ugly place, and it behooves each and every member of the Body of Christ to get up, get to work, and do something about it.  Chaining ourselves with perfectionism only keeps us out of the game, and that’s a ‘win’ for our enemy.  We *must* work.  We must write, we must sew, we must sing… because this world is left to the hyenas if we do not.

Posted in: Homemaking, Religion