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No More Paralyzed Perfectionism - Encouragement for Today - April 15, 2024

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Karen EhmanApril 15, 2024

No More Paralyzed Perfectionism
KAREN EHMAN

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“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness.’ Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9 (CSB)

Sitting in my garage is a thrifted, retro bookcase. When I saw it, I just knew that with a little sanding and some pale-blue chalk paint, I’d have the perfect piece for a cozy reading nook.

However, after nearly nine months, it sits untouched.

I’m not a skilled DIYer and simply haven’t figured out where to start. My perfectionistic mind reasons that if I can’t do it right, then I shouldn’t do it at all.

Perfectionism misleadingly whispers to us that if we don’t obtain flawless execution, then we are a failure. That’s how we become paralyzed perfectionists, unable to even begin a project.

The Apostle Paul gives us a fresh perspective in this area. In 2 Corinthians 12:7-8, he mentioned a thorn in the flesh” sent by Satan to torment him (CSB). Some Bible scholars believe this could refer to some kind of visual impairment; Paul sometimes mentioned in his letters that he was signing his own name in large print, implying he had a scribe. Others think the thorn could have been a sin struggle.

Whatever the case, Paul pleaded with God three times to remove it. God’s answer to this request for relief?

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9a).

In response, Paul said, “Therefore, I will most gladly boast all the more about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may reside in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9b). The Greek word for “gladly” is hédista, and it means “delightfully, most pleasantly, sweetly, and without regret or reservation.” This is the perspective-shifting attitude Paul had.

Of course, having perfectionistic tendencies that paralyze our productivity isn’t as dire as a physical thorn in the flesh. Nevertheless, we can adopt Paul's outlook. We can trust the Lord to meet us in our weaknesses.

Here are three perspective-shifting statements to remember when battling perfectionism:

  • Something is better than nothing. I can at least begin, knowing it won’t be perfect but it will be a start.
  • Perfectionism is not my friend — in fact, it can be my enemy. When critical thoughts come, making me feel paralyzed, I can fight against them and work steadily and cheerfully, knowing I need to be patient.
  • Perfectionism can steal my joy if I let it. Regardless, like Paul, I can rejoice in this weakness and delight in what God is teaching me, remembering that in my weakness, He is strong.

If God’s power is made perfect in weakness, we shouldn’t shy away from our imperfections. Instead, we can admit them to the Lord and ask for His help when we feel unproductive, inefficient or incapable of moving forward. In fact, we can defiantly decide to delight in our imperfections. Now, there’s the perfect plan!

Father, help me not to be paralyzed by perfectionism any longer. Instead, I want to learn to lean into the perfect strength only You can offer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

OUR FAVORITE THINGS

Feelings aren’t meant to be fixed — they’re meant to be felt. Jennie Allen wants to help you discover how to lean into this truth with her new book, Untangle Your Emotions: Naming What You Feel and Knowing What to Do About It. Jennie will point you to biblical wisdom and therapeutic research that will help you whether you consider yourself an “emotional” person or not. And the best news is … Untangle Your Emotions is the first book selection for the brand-new Circle 31 Book Club with Proverbs 31 Ministries! This is your space to walk through life-changing messages with life-giving friends. Purchase your special edition of the book and join Circle 31 Book Club today so you’re ready to read with us on May 1.

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If you’d be encouraged by a devotional that will help you trust in God’s strength, check out Karen Ehman and Ruth Schwenk’s book Trusting God in All the Things: 90 Devotions for Finding Peace in Your Every Day.

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Today, Karen is giving away a “Delight in the Lord” gift basket of Bible study resources and tasty goodies. Head to her Instagram to enter to win.

FOR DEEPER STUDY

Matthew 11:29, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, because I am lowly and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (CSB).

Think of a situation where you typically feel paralyzed by perfectionism. How can the directive in Matthew 11:29 help you fret less and find more rest for your soul?

Write out a heartfelt prayer to the Father, asking Him to help you not to be derailed by perfectionism but to cheerfully do your best work. Post your prayer where you will see it often.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Chime in here in the comments.

© 2024 by Karen Ehman. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries
P.O. Box 3189
Matthews, NC 28106
www.Proverbs31.org

Originally published Monday, 15 April 2024.

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