The Problem with Perfectionism
confidence,  shame

The Problem with Perfectionism

I was eating lunch with my mom on a beautiful Saturday afternoon when I broke down. The pressures had been building up all week–school, friends, family, writing. Even everyday things or my own thoughts made me feel like I was about to crack.

No matter what, I couldn’t shake the thought out of my head that I wasn’t good enough. I wasn’t talented, smart, or pretty enough. I place so many unrealistic expectations on myself that I would never put on anyone else. It’s what fueled my struggle with an eating disorder when I was younger.

But I know I’m not alone in this struggle, lovely one. The problem is perfectionism and it needs to be unraveled and seen for what it truly is–the need for something greater than ourselves.

The Lie of Perfectionism  

I have yet to meet a perfect person. I’ve met people who seem perfect or who share doctored up photos of a perfect life on social media (I’m guilty of it too).

But when you actually get to know someone and break through their mask, you see that this person is a human being–filled with struggles, sin, fears, and hurt.

During Biblical times, there were groups of people called Pharisees who kept up the appearance of perfection with a bunch of rules and regulations. Meanwhile, they were shaming everyone around them while letting sin reign in their hearts. Jesus called them out on this.

‘ “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.’ (Matthew 23:27-28 NIV)

If Jesus were walking in the flesh today, He would see a lot of Christians who look like these “whitewashed” tombs. We can pretend to be perfect to others. Maybe we can even fool ourselves into thinking we have our lives together. But God sees us for who we really are. We can’t hide from Him.

Perfectionism vs. Authenticity

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:8-9 NIV)

God doesn’t want a “perfect looking” son or daughter. He wants our real, authentic selves. The Bible reminds us that none of us are without sin–no matter how much good we do. No one is perfect.

Repentance is all about bringing your authentic self to God–humbly and sincerely. It’s about letting go of our sin and shame, because it was already destroyed when Jesus died on the cross.

If we could be perfect on our own, then we wouldn’t need a savior. We need to stop striving and accept the free gift that Christ paid the price to give us.

Perfect Grace 

The most dangerous thing about perfectionism is that it keeps us focused on ourselves for too long. When you live your life for Jesus, it’s not about you anymore. It’s about His glory.

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

Even the great apostle Paul wasn’t perfect. He dealt with issues just like the rest of us. But instead of punishing himself for not being good enough, he turned to the only one who is good enough.

Jesus is God, and He is also the only perfect person to walk the earth (John 1:14). When we surrender our weaknesses to Him, we give Him the proper place in our lives as Lord and Savior.

This is called grace. 

Perfectionism-Jesus is enough

Christ is not glorified in our self-righteousness or worldly success. It is only when we are broken and weak that people can truly see the Savior work in us.

I’ll admit that surrendering to grace is still a struggle for me. It was on that lunch date with my mom that I finally came to the end of myself.

I realized something so important, that in fact, it’s the basis of salvation. I am not good enough. But Jesus is more than good enough, and He will always be enough for me.

Thanks for reading! Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below 🙂

Connect with me on Instagram @fearfullywonderfullyme

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  • Stacey Lynn

    My goodness, it seems as if you’re writing my very own thoughts and studying the very same things I’m studying 🙂 But since nothing I study comes from a book or devotion, I know we’re not “reading the same thing”, but rather, hearing from the same Awesome God! This is a great post that deserves to make the rounds…I’ll be sharing. Thank you for sharing and God BLESS you!

    • fearfullywonderfullyme

      Thank you Stacey! Your support means so much to me. Although I am inspired by a lot of things in my life, the Word of God is my source of truth! God bless you 💙

  • Lea (Faith)

    This is so relatable! And Psalm 139 is one of my favorite verses and i love the name of your blog domain 🙂 we’re all so fearfully and wonderfully made, and don’t need to perform any more to increase our self worth cuz we’re already perfect to Him!

    • fearfullywonderfullyme

      Thank you Lea! Your comment made my day 💙 you are so beautiful and loved by God! He accepts you, and helps you to give up sin and live the life He always intended. Isn’t that amazing?

  • Jo Wilmer

    What a blessing you are. Though there is SO much around us that tries to “squeeze” us, we can breathe in knowing that there is nothing that comes our way that God is not aware of. He knows the end from the beginning. “In this world we will have tribulation…” Not we may, but we will. Your writing is a blessing and we all must remember that in HIS eye’s we are all a perfect “10.” 🙂

    • fearfullywonderfullyme

      Wow, thank you Jo! I love that His blood makes us a 10! I agree that everyone has troubles, but God is always there for us. God bless you Jo! 😊

  • lovejoybalance

    Love this! As I was reading I kept thinking about grace… and then you said it! We have to remember that we don’t live by grace that allows us to live in sin but we sure do need to extend grace to ourselves more! We need to stop being so hard on ourselves and feeling guilty. How can we extend grace to others and love like Christ loved if we can’t give ourselves grace? I have been working on this a lot lately!

    • fearfullywonderfullyme

      Very true! Shame (or unresolved guilt) is actually what traps us in sin. Sin was defeated on the cross, so we need to proclaim that freedom! Thank you for commenting.

  • Nikki O.

    Thank you for writing this, i have been struggling with the thought of Prefectionism alot lately and its draining. It’s so comforting to know that Christ doesn’t look at our achievements but our hearts and our intentions 🙂


  • Courtney

    I love this Emily! I also struggle with perfectionism, so I can totally relate. It is so true that the essence of the Gospel is that we’re not perfect – and sometimes we all need a reminder to just let go and breathe.

    Sorry I haven’t read your blog in a while – I’ll try to catch up on some old posts today!😃

    • fearfullywonderfullyme

      Thanks Courtney! I think a lot of us can relate to this, and I hope God can touch many lives with it! We do need to let go and let God. And no worries, I need to take a visit to your blog as well. 😊

  • Kaila @ Successfully Simple Sisters

    This post reminds me of a saying I once heard “Let go and Let God.” I oftentimes think I have everything under control and my life is “perfect” until I suddenly need Him to be in control again to pick up the pieces (I wouldn’t recommend this tactic!) Thanks for sharing so many truths!

    • fearfullywonderfullyme

      I’ve been there before Kaila! And it’s so true. We need to let go and let God. Thanks for commenting 😊

  • beckielindsey

    Emily, what a great topic. Your words combat the lies we are faced with everyday that tell we are not enough. Another way to combat those lies is with the truth of God’s word. The truth is, God says as His children we are complete because of Jesus (Colossians 2:10)
    Praise God, I AM COMPLETE! Ah, that feels pretty good 🙂

    Blessings, sweet sister.
    Keep shining that light!

    • fearfullywonderfullyme

      Thanks Beckie! God’s Word really is the only way we can combat the lies of the enemy. That is why I do my best to base my posts on scripture. 😊 God bless you!

  • Kim

    This is a great post. I can relate to cracking under the pressures of this life and world. But, thankfully, Jesus has overcome this world. We can rest in Him, breathe, and know that it’s going to be okay! Great job, keep up the good work!

  • Anneliese

    Well written and thought out. How thankful I am for my Savior. He is truly my redeemer and the lifter of my head. He doesn’t condemn, but He works in us to bring us to obedience. I’m still a work in progress and I’m so glad He’s not giving up on me.

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