I recently had a discussion with one of my professors about my current grades. As the semester is now on the downhill slide, it’s time to pick up the pace and prepare for final papers and presentations, which make up more than 50% of the grades in most classes. Because I’m graduating in May, a little disease called senioritis has taken over my body and my mind. According to Urban Dictionary, senioritis is “a crippling disease that strikes high school (in my case college) seniors. Symptoms include: laziness, an over-excessive wearing of track pants, old athletic shirts, sweatpants, athletic shorts, and sweatshirts. Also features a lack of studying, repeated absences, and a generally dismissive attitude. The only known cure is a phenomenon known as graduation.”
If I continue along this don’t care attitude path, my grade point average will suffer. My professor encouraged me to do my best, cut myself some slack and that it was okay if I don’t make straight A’s. As I thought about his advice, I began to realize just how difficult those three things are for me to do. First of all, I never seem to be satisfied with my best, but feel that I could always do better. Secondly, I never cut myself slack on anything, but always hold myself to extremely high standards. Lastly, I’ve made straight A’s most of my life; if I made a B the world would end. Of course that’s not going to happen, yet in my mind I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill.
These thoughts continued throughout the afternoon until I realized that I not only strive for perfection with my school work, but I expect myself to be the perfect Christian, the best friend, an adoring daughter and so on. And hear me on this, I am NOT saying that we should not strive for excellence, especially in our relationship with Christ. But we can take it so far overboard to the point where we never allow ourselves to make mistakes, we constantly live in a state of guilt, stress and anxiety, and any time we fail, we feel like the world has fallen apart. This is not the kind of life God wants us to live. It is, however, the life I choose for myself on many occasions. Nearing final grades, graduation, beginning a new job, I’ve felt that pressure to measure up to my standards of perfection.
I picked up a book I’ve had for a few years, but have never finished reading. Titled, The Relief of Imperfection: For Women Who Try Too Hard to Make it Just Right, the book seemed to be a good fit for my current circumstances. Sitting by the pool being warmed by the bright sunshine I read Joan Webb’s words and truly felt inspired by the stories she had to share. One of my favorites was a response she received from God as she prayed about her struggles.
These are God’s word to Joan, and I believe to me, and to you as well…
“________ (insert name) I want your heart. I want you. I know you’re not perfect. You’re not Super-Woman. I know you are human, limited and often needy. I know you sometimes doubt and have trouble trusting Me. I know you get confused, tired, feel inadequate, embarrassed and even ashamed sometimes. I know you’re hurt when others can’t or won’t listen and then make assumptions about you. I know you try to understand others but get frustrated when you don’t.
I know you expect a lot. I know that you believe you should have more energy, better health and greater influence than you do. I know you can become self-preoccupied. And I know you want to make a significant difference in your world and that you’re annoyed when you’re limited by your need for sleep, rest, nourishment, exercise and social breaks. I know you want to be and do more. I also know that your heart really loves Me and that you long to know and love Me more deeply. I know you want to grow, but sometimes you try too hard and that backfires on you.
Remember: I want your heart. I love you – not merely what you can do. You’re My child. I’m your Father. I want you to grow. And since you want that also, we’re on the same page with this desire. I don’t expect you to be, do or make it all just right all the time. That’s My job.”
I still have such a long way to go, learning as my professor said, to do my best, cut myself some slack, and know that it will be okay if I am not perfect. God knows that I am not perfect, but it’s still difficult to find the balance between not trying at all and trying way too much. If you are struggling with perfectionism, I hope this message from God helps shed light on what He expects from you and how He feels about you. I feel that truly walking in the truth of this message would change my life filled with stress, anxiety and guilt to a life filled with peace, hope and joy.