Daily Devotion – 1 John 4:18 – How To Overcome Perfectionism

Perfect Love Drives Out Perfectionism

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 NIV

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 NIV

Do You Struggle With Being Perfect

Have you struggled on a quest for perfection your whole life? It’s been my struggle as long as I can remember.

Perfectionism was on the underside of every label I wore as a child:
Responsible. Mature. Well-behaved. Always striving. Never satisfied.

Perfectionism patted me on the head when I was praised for being good. It lured me with its promise of control, as a five-year-old struggling after my parents’ divorce. My world was a tornado of emotional chaos, and perfection seemed to present the solution.

In school I hated when classmates called me “Miss Perfect.” Deep down I knew I was far from perfect. The way I talked to myself was mean. The messes I hid under my bed were out of control. The times I ate too much to soothe my sad feelings proved my failures.

But no one paid attention to those imperfections. They saw the perfectly-behaved daughter, perfectly-performing student, perfectly-pious Christian.

Perfection to Depression

When I was a teenager the pressure to be perfect became too much to bear, and I experienced depression. I stopped trying to be perfect, but I felt even worse for stopping. Perfection had become a familiar, though impossible to please, friend of mine. I didn’t yet know how to live outside perfection’s constant demands.

God slowly healed me from my depression. He showed me that only he is perfect, and despite all my striving, I can never be perfect like him. His perfect love casts out the fear of condemnation that lies behind the mask of perfection I wore for so long.

Years later, after becoming a wife and mother of three, I noticed how procrastination seemed to walk hand-in-hand with my haunting perfectionism. My housecleaning suffered. Papers and dirty dishes piled up. Once again depression was casting a dark shadow over my life, and I found relief through Christian counseling.

How To Overcome Perfectionism

If you struggle with how to overcome perfectionism like me, maybe you fear being a burden to others. However, by internalizing God’s perfect love, we can learn to see ourselves as precious children of God rather than burdens.

Once we know we are perfectly loved by God, we can relax in his embrace and overcome perfectionism. By casting that heavy yoke of perfectionism onto God (since it’s too heavy for us to bear anyway), we find freedom and hope.

When I finally understood I no longer need to strive to be perfect, and I had never needed to, a rush of joy swept through me. The only perfection I rejoice in now is the perfect love of Jesus. We can be joyful in our imperfect state, set free by perfect love Himself.

Questions for reflection:

  • If you struggle with perfectionism or procrastination, how has this post helped you?
  • Which affirming verse is most meaningful to you?
  • How does God’s perfect love set you free?

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