“Be still, and know that I am God.”
My name is Brooke and I am a recovering perfectionist.
The first step is to admit you have a problem, right?
Every morning I wake up and prepare to race the clock, working myself to exhaustion and doing my best to reach the arbitrary standards that I have set for myself. Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect, Jesus says. But the fruit of my perfectionism reveals that it is not within my human capacity to achieve perfection. Wait, what? The truth is that I am limited, and these limits were designed by God. Therefore, my striving to become that which is outside of my limitation is to strive to become the limitless God.
If we’re being honest, there is nothing honorable about perfectionism. Rather, it is a deep pride that compels us to a dishonorable obsession. Conversely, it causes us to be passive with a deep fear of failure, or hesitant to attempt hard things. The danger of perfectionism is egocentrism (life is all about me). This pursuit is not motivated by love, nor does it come from faith, and that which does not come from faith is sin (Romans 14:23). It stems from a sense of self-trust and self-sufficiency. But God, in our fight to be perfect, responds and commands us to be still.
The Hebrew translation of the word still comes from the word rapa which means “to let down or cease,” or “to heal or restore.” From my minimal understanding, it was usually a command against fighting or unruliness — This command causes us to stop unnecessary striving, let go of self-justification, and lift our gaze to God, the only Perfect One who is sovereign. Our heart responds to seeing the majesty of God in silence; in stillness; in worship. From this silence comes a sense of awe and reverence and admiration at the greatness of the Lord.
We are changed when we stop and stare at God. We see him in all of his glory and his perfection and we recognize that we fall short (Romans 3:23); we recognize our need for him.
Before we open our eyes every morning, let us seek God’s face and rest in his presence. Before we get out of bed, may we confess our sins and imperfections and lean on him. As we eat and drink, let us ask the Lord to fill us with his Spirit. When we begin to feel weary, burdened, and weak, may we run to Jesus – not the world or man or self. Before we close our eyes to sleep, let us look back and see the faithfulness of our perfect God.
“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually! Remember the wondrous works that he has done, his miracles and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of Israel his servant, children of Jacob, his chosen ones!”
1 Chronicles 16:10-13