Last night I had a little run-in with Perfectionism again. He just won’t leave me alone. He follows me wherever I go, pointing out flaws in my house-keeping, my parenting, my marriage relationship, even my walk with the Lord.
Some days I can ignore him and others I just can’t seem to escape. And I know it’s Perfectionism and not the Holy Spirit because of his voice. He whispers lies to me: “you’ll never change” or “you’re never going to be good enough” or “why even bother anymore.”
I’ve been enslaved by his words before, but last night was different.
You see, my husband and I stayed up much too late because we were arguing about a financial issue.
I felt angry and disappointed and fearful. The familiar panic of how can I possibly do right in this situation and still get my point across welled up within me, and I knew a battle was swiftly approaching.
I know some of you are chuckling right now, and rightfully so!
It’s the quandary every woman who ever lived on the face of Earth deals with: to obey the Lord and demonstrate respect for my husband or to take control and make my voice heard?
God’s way or my way?
When it comes to submitting to and respecting my husband, I so often feel like Paul in Romans chapter 7. I know what I want to do, what I should do, yet I feel powerless to actually do it.
I’ve believed so many lies for so long.
I fail frequently.
But the Lord is faithful, and I’m learning to trust His promises to carry that work in me, in my marriage, until completion in the day of Christ (Phil. 1:6).
Later on after our apologies were spoken and we both felt at peace, we finally turned out the lights in hopes for at least a few hours of sleep.
And that’s when it happened.
In the stillness of the dark, my husband’s voice broke through Perfectionism’s insidious whispers, “Thank you for being so calm and patient with me tonight.”
Stunned, my disbelieving heart rejected his kind words and earlier tears returned in full force.
“But I wasn’t patient!” I agonized. “I was so angry and so disappointed and I struggled, I really struggled, not to say mean and hateful things.” The weight of my own sin and failure hung about my neck.
My husband’s reply was quiet, yet firm, “Babe, even though you were angry, you were patient with me. You didn’t bite my head off. You maintained control. You gave me space and that helped me.”
At that moment, the truth of his words broke through Perfectionism’s grasp. No, I didn’t handle the situation as well as I would have liked; I wasn’t perfect. Yes, there was definitely room for improvement.
Nevertheless, his words rang true. What normally would have developed into a full-fledged, hours-long fight was briefly resolved. By the grace of God and the power of the Holy Spirit, I realized that we were definitely making progress.
That’s when I saw Perfectionism for what he was – one part self, one part Satan.
Self was prideful, Satan was deceitful, and the combination of the two brought me chains of defeat that I no longer wish to carry.
In Perfectionism’s chains, I so often measure in black and white, success or failure, perfect or imperfect.
Praise the Lord that my Redeemer is teaching me to put on my Grace-colored glasses and see the shades of success, to celebrate even the smallest steps of progress, to proclaim every small victory because of His work in me, in us.
I hope I never forget that moment. My husband spoke freeing words to me last night, and the Holy Spirit confirmed them within me.
Daughter, you are the good that you so desperately want to be, not because your efforts are so grand and your reach so high, but because you are walking a path of progress, trusting in the promise of redemption. I never asked you to be perfect, just willing. At the same time, daughter, you are perfect, not in yourself, but in my Son because He already carried these burdens with Him and nailed them to the cross. They died and were buried with Him. But you daughter, you rose with Him in perfection, a new creation, beautiful to behold, born of His glory. And now you no longer live as a slave in Romans 7, but in Romans 8 as more than a conqueror, confident in the promise that you will never be separated from His love!
2 Corinthians 5:17 proclaims, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold new things have come. (NASB)”
I don’t think I’ll ever cease to be overwhelmed by such truths, such promises, such magnificent grace. In the midst of my sorrow and my shame, my Savior showed up and handed me a pair of Grace-colored glasses.
Perfectionism, you’re no longer welcome here.
I’m embracing my work-in-progress status
and the grace that has already set me free!
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~ You just finished an excerpt from the book Hope for the Hurting Wife by Rebekah Hallberg and Jen Stults, two women who have walked through the valley of troubled marriages and emerged safely on the other side. Their testimonies to God’s presence and hope in the midst of difficulty gives hope to wives who are really struggling not to give up!
Find additional encouraging content in this book:
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