Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Confessions of a Recovering Perfectionist

When I worked at the crisis pregnancy center, I was in charge of interviewing volunteers. One of the questions that was on the application was, "What are your faults?"

By far the most common answer, and likely the one I said as well, was something like this:
"I am a workaholic... and a bit of a perfectionist."

Yes, I was at home among those high-achieving do-gooders in my college community. I shared that "fault" of doing too much and expecting too much of myself.

I might have really believed that perfectionism was a problem (if not exactly a fault,) in part, because it made me weirdly different from many other people, because my inability to relax was annoying to calmer (lazier) people, and because I knew sometimes I took my "to-do" list a little too seriously.

A quirk, an irritation to some, but also a mark of strength, I secretly believed. It is good to be dependable, hard-working, and extremely motivated. It is good to be a person who can take care of herself and everyone around her. Right?

Of course it is good to be the caregiver... that is, if you actually have care to give.
What happens when you find yourself empty?
What happens when you find yourself at the mercy of sickness, or depression, or suffering, and you realize that you are made of flesh? When you discover, to your dismay, that you are not a machine?

Ok and understandable in other people, but not in me!
And yet, there it is, in me, and my own willpower does not make it go away.

But I find God is teaching me many things through weakness, things I cannot hear when I plow through life like a machine.

He is a God who cares for the weak.
Even when I am weak, I am loved.
And perhaps, that is more important than what I get done today.

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