As a (slowly recovering) perfectionist, somewhere in the twists of my brain lurks a belief that I must do everything the best possible way.
Take chocolate chip cookies, for example. I need the best recipe. The one that yields soft centers and edges just barely crisp enough to hold the cookie together when you pick it up. The cookie needs to be a nice circle and not look like a lump of dough that melted into a flat puddle in the oven. Oh. Also, this cookie must be gluten free.
Though there are many different recipes, an infinite number of them are less than the best. I’ve got to bypass all those and discover that one perfect path. Or, at least, that’s what my inner perfectionist would prefer. And once she finds that recipe? It’s the best and so everyone should do it her way.
Of course, there’s a problem with this.
You probably noticed it at gluten free, if not before. Not everyone has the issues I have with gluten. Most prefer gluten, actually. And their points of contention may not be limited to what kind of flour is used. They may prefer *gasp* crisp cookies. Or the puddly ones. Their idea of “best” is different from mine.
The same concept applies to other areas of life—dog training, novel writing, and on and on. There’s more than one “best” way to do most anything, even when two people share the same core faith.
But that inner perfectionist of mine? She quietly, subtly still insists that there must be a best of the best.
To find it, she takes in data from the complaints and praises, and recalculates for her next attempt at perfection.
She’s constantly revising her recipe for success based on the data she gathers.
And this is dangerous.
Going back to the cookies, if she incorporates wheat flour into her recipe because it’s the more popular ingredient, she will make a cookie that will harm her health if she eats it.
This is not productive, yet I’ve done it. With cookies, yes, but also with more important subjects like my writing.
The Bible tells us there is absolute truth about God. It does not, however, spell out specifics of absolute truth related to cookies, novels, dog training, career development and many other areas.
We all have different goals and motivations and personalities. We focus on different outcomes, pour energy into different tasks, and let different elements of life slide with less attention.
And as long as we’re following God, these differences are okay. There is no one absolute best, despite your inner perfectionist’s attempts to convince you otherwise.
We need to allow others to be different from us, and we need to allow ourselves to be different from others.
So here’s the good news: you don’t have to agree that my best cookie is your best cookie.
And the best news yet? We can both be happy with our own cookies.
Is there an area in your life where you need to give yourself permission to be different from others?
Great post, Emily. Puts things into perspective. My issue is how I deal with stress. A definite prayer of mine to overcome.
Thanks, Janetta! Dealing with stress is one God is working with me on too, teaching me again to let stress push me to Him and not over into harmful patterns.