If this was a job interview, and you asked me about my flaws and weaknesses, I would probably tell you about my penchant towards perfectionism, and that it often hinders me as a self-starter. I want to make the absolute best decision, and therefore need a lot of time to gather information on each option and investigate the pros and cons before taking the step. People talk about perfectionism like it is some amazing, virtuous way of living, but really, perfectionism is just fear that dressed up. And it’s no surprise that perfectionism’s ugly twin is shame. They’re a couple of smooth talkers, and they look good on the outside, but make no mistake — they will leave you cold in the middle of the night without the slightest bit of remorse. I can say that because I keep going back to them, like an addict to drink.
It has been said that wisdom is what we do with the knowledge we have. Perfectionism whispers, taunting that you’ll never know enough to make the right move. But if you ever want to truly live the life of the beloved, you have to kick perfectionism to the curb. Vote perfectionism off the island. Don’t give perfectionism the rose. In your best Gretchen Weiners voice, tell perfectionism straight up that she cannot sit with you.
And then, don’t back down. Stand your ground like your life depends on it, because it actually does.
I took a tiny baby step forward today. I got outside and broke a sweat. Now, it is July in South Carolina and I was wearing skinny jeans and pushing a stroller (#nannylife) so it wasn’t that hard, but I’m choosing to believe that that’s beside the point. And as I walked around the neighborhood, I listened to an audio book on wisdom and making decisions today that will still be favorable tomorrow.
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown about and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do. — James 1:5-8
The bottom line is this: I need wisdom. I need it like I need oxygen and food. I have been a terrible decision maker. Or perhaps, more apt, a terrible promise keeper. I’ve set goals for myself and not taken the necessary steps to see them through. Like Paul, I do the exact opposite of what I set out to do.
I have begged for wisdom, but the truth is, I’ve been anything but single-minded. I look at my goals and only see what I’ve done to prevent myself from achieving them. You can’t set out to lose weight and expect to do so by running through the drive-thru everyday on your way home from work. You can’t reach your financial goals by purchasing things you don’t need simply because they were on sale and someday you might use them. You cannot hope to become a great artist and then never sit down to hone your craft. You just can’t.
Your actions are infinitely more revealing than your words will ever be.
So I ask God to make me single-minded, to make me so intent on looking just at him and what he’s doing that everything else would fall by the wayside. I ask him to help me get out of my own way. I ask him for wisdom, and help for my unbelieving ways — courage to take this small step and then the next and the next.
And I whisper truth over myself on repeat: start small, and be faithful where your feet are. All you have to do is be faithful in this moment to take the next step.
Because the way of the beloved is always the way of redemption.