This week in Chapter 8 of A Confident Heart, we’ve been talking about the comparison trap and learning discovering that something special we each have to offer! One thing that is absolutely essential is acceptance. God wants us to accept who we are as well as the gifts, personalities, idiosyncrasies and life experiences we’ve been given so we can embrace and become the woman HE created us to be. When we accept ourselves and the blessing God speaks over our life – then we discover what we have to give – and the joy that comes with it!
Today I have a special guest, Kay Warren, wife of Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. In her new book, “Choose Joy” Kay shares the path to experiencing soul-satisfying joy no matter what you’re going through. She says, “Joy is deeper than happiness, lasts longer than excitement, and is more satisfying than pleasure and thrills. Joy is richer. Fuller. And it’s far more accessible than you’ve thought possible.”
From Choose Joy, chapter 7: Practice Acceptance
I am a perfectionist. It’s not something I’m proud of, but I have jokingly said that I am a card-carrying member of the Perfectionists Club of America. I expect perfection from myself and others, and from the world I live in—which means I’m always setting myself up for disappointment.
I want my hair to look just right—and yet it never curls the same way twice. I precisely follow the manufacturer’s directions for washing a new shirt, and it shrinks the first time I wash it. I go to church, and there’s a typo in the song lyrics on the screen. And I get really upset because things are not, well, perfect.
I’ve been known to ask out loud, “Why is perfection so difficult?” Is it any wonder I get a few raised eyebrows in response? The answer to my question is simple. Perfection is not difficult. It’s impossible. It’s impossible because of what happened in Genesis 2. When Adam and Eve decided to eat the fruit off that tree so they could be like God, they unleashed a curse on our world. The world doesn’t understand it. They call it Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will. They think it’s cute and clever, but it’s really Genesis 2 in action.
Perfectionism has its roots firmly planted not only in Genesis 2 but also in the environment we grew up in. Often a hard-to-please parent, family member, or highly respected teacher or coach can seriously damage our developing sense of self, causing us to carry around their “voice” in our heads as an inner critic.
How about you? Does your desire for perfection significantly interfere with your job or your ability to achieve your goals? Does it get in the way of developing deep relationships? Perfectionism’s reach extends to eating disorders and anxiety disorders. It’s nasty. Have you discovered that chasing after perfection robs you of joy and peace?
Richard Carlson writes, “I’ve yet to meet an absolute perfectionist whose life was filled with inner peace. The need for perfection and the desire for inner tranquility conflict with each other.”
What a relief it was for me to realize a few years ago that my desire for perfection in and of itself is not wrong. We were made for it! We were made for perfect bodies. We were made for perfect relationships. We were made for perfect minds. We were made to live forever. Something deep inside us calls out for what was lost, so we keep reaching for it, keep trying to find that perfection our souls long for.
So it’s not wrong to long for perfection; it’s just wrong to expect it on earth. It isn’t found here. There truly is something wrong with everything. That’s not just me, an Eeyore, talking. It’s recognizing the fact that we live under the curse. Perfection will only come when God creates the new heaven and the new earth and paradise is restored. Paradise was lost in Genesis 2. But in Revelation 21 it is restored. When that prophecy is fulfilled, all we long for will be restored to us. God tells us he will “wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. . . . ‘I am making everything new!’” (Rev. 21:4–5).
That means no more living under the curse. It means hair that curls properly every time. Song lyrics with no typos. Conversations with no misunderstandings. It means no more relationships that go sour. No more mental illness. No more bodies that don’t work right. No more cancer. Everything that has been broken will be restored. That’s a reason for joy.
The antidote to perfectionism is acceptance—acceptance of our earthly imperfections because we are focused on the day when imperfection will be no more. If I try to experience perfection here on earth, I will come up short every time. If I keep looking for perfection within myself, I will kill the joy in me. You and I need to fire our inner critic!
When I accept myself as I am instead of who I wish I was, when I accept those around me as they are, not as I wish they were, when I accept the world as it is, not as I wish it was, my joy in today as well as my hope for tomorrow can grow.
Thank you so much Kay for giving us the antidote to perfectionism. I know I need to fire my inner critic for sure! If you’d like to find out more about Kay, be sure visit her website. Also, tomorrow my friend Holly Gerth is sharing another excerpt from Kay’s book so be sure to hop on over to read more from “Choose Joy” on Friday.
Win a copy: Share your thoughts about today’s post and you’ll be entered to win a copy of Kay’s book, Choose Joy. We’re giving away two copies!
Thank you for sharing the chapter out of Choose Joy. I’ve had this “funk” on me and I have been unable to describe it. It was a heaviness, a depression, and doubt about my abilities. I too, am a perfectionist. This chapter is just what I needed today to give me an attitude adjustment and keep me moving forward in my walk with God.
A bit behind on the blog but wanted to reflect on the post.
I love this quote!
When I accept myself as I am instead of who I wish I was, when I accept those around me as they are, not as I wish they were, when I accept the world as it is, not as I wish it was, my joy in today as well as my hope for tomorrow can grow.
Thanks for sharing it!
I’ve have a hard time with Joy this week. I felt drug down, drug out and basically drug through a rat hole backwards. Today after I came home from running across two counties doing errands I was exhausted. I got out a new Bible Study that we are doing at my church and went through all the Bible Scriptures in the first chapter. Then I just decided to ‘put on my big girl panties and deal’. I got out my walking shoes and even though I was
tired I walked for a couple of miles.
I began to feel some of the joy I had been reading about the fruit of the Spirit needed the watering of the Word of God.
Thank you for this timely reminder. I often have to remind myself that not only do I have a choice on what i focus on but that I am a work in progress. God doesn’t expect perfection based on my efforts. They would always fall short but I can choose to stop comparing my insides to their outsides and remind myself that God loves me just as I am today, not who I aspire to be. That it is in Him, I live and move and have my being, not in the superficial things I get hung up on. So just for today, I choose to accept myself as I am and those around me as well b/c my heavenly Father accepts me and love me right where I am. So I choose joy.
I guess I never thought about perfectionism as being an opposite of choosing joy. It is obvious that my tendencies towards perfectionism lead me to Overwork, worry, and struggle in some of my relationships with those who are “not Perfect” but I think it would help to address those perfectionist tendencies if I thought of INSTEAD – CHOOSING JOY. Looking forward to reading this book.
I understand what Kay meant by seeing the typos in the lyrics on the screen. That happened this past Sunday at church and that was all I could focus on. I totally missed out on the blessing God had for me in the message.
I know I’m probably too late to enter for the giveaway, but if you’d just pray that I internalize this message and fire my inner critic, I’ll be grateful. Sometimes, I feel so entrapped by feelings of lack, that I can’t move. These words, capture my heart perfectly–No pun intended!
“The antidote to perfectionism is acceptance—acceptance of our earthly imperfections because we are focused on the day when imperfection will be no more. If I try to experience perfection here on earth, I will come up short every time. If I keep looking for perfection within myself, I will kill the joy in me. You and I need to fire our inner critic!
When I accept myself as I am instead of who I wish I was, when I accept those around me as they are, not as I wish they were, when I accept the world as it is, not as I wish it was, my joy in today as well as my hope for tomorrow can grow”.
This post really spoke truth to my heart. I was raised by a critical mother and have carried that “voice|” around ever since. I remember as a child thinking that there was no point in trying because it would never be good enough anyway. I am ashamed to say that I have become so critical of my husband because of my insecurities with myself. If he steps in and trys to help out with something that I feel is my area of responsibility my reaction is to become very defensive and critical. For example if he does a load of laundry I will critize him for the way he has folded it rather than thanking him for helping out. I will complain that I have to refold everything because it is not done my way.
I love the line in Kay’s book that says ‘When I accept myself as I am instead of who I wish I was, when I accept those around me as they are, not as I wish they were, when I accept the world as it is, not as I wish it was, my joy in today as well as my hope for tomorrow can grow.” I want that kind of joy in my heart and in my home.
God is showing me so much through this study. Thanks to Renee and Kay.
Understanding a concept and applying it can be at 2 opposite ends of the spectrum. I know there is no such thing as perfection here, but I can’t stop expecting it. This idea is very foreign to me. Thank you for sharing. I also appreciate the opportunity to enter your give away.
Lee Ann G. says
I had a “choose joy” bracelet made to remind myself of the fact that it is my choice at any moment to make. Especially for remembering to choose joy instead during those times that I want to give into feeling sad and like a failure when I haven’t performed perfectly or don’t look perfectly etc…. Although I believe I give grace easily to others and actually want to encourage them, I so often have been the last one to give grace to myself. I’m learning though. I would LOVE to win and read Kay Warren’s book. Thank you for this giveaway!
♥Lee Ann G.
sandi m says
Great input. I too feel the negativity caused by always trying to be perfect. This post hit home. Thanks for the chance to win!
Choose Joy is a good title for a book. Growing up in a negative home most of the time I choose that instead of Joy. Mostly because it my first reflex. Thanks for giveaways.
Shawna Salkil says
I can totally relate with this post. I never thought of why we strive for perfection and then why we can’t attain it. Such wonderful truths in this! I MUST learn to move to acceptance or NEVER have peace and joy. Thank you for sharing this. Looks like another book for my “must read” list.
This too is true, when you expect everything to be perfect and/ or compare yourself to others to things others have and you do not, you do lose your Joy. Joy to me in living and learning that my life is what God planned for me long ago before I was even born. Yes I too have had the joy taken from me, with a family situation of how others treated and to me and my children. I was not until recently that I found my joy again with learning and praying daily for forgiveness in the faults that I had contributed to the situation. I know have peace and joy for I know the Lord knows my heart and has used this as a lesson in my life and as a testimony. Each day I remind myself, I have a purpose in life and that purpose is to serve the Lord. I have no idea if I have been forgiven by the other family members in which where involved. I continue to pray that in Gods timing that our family will be reunited again as a whole and that each understand and learns that we are all different according to Gods plan for each of us. Has this been a hard and difficult lesson for me, yes it has, but because of this I have grown closer to the Lord in which I know was his plan for me all along. I know now that I do not have to please everyone, I need to be me according to Gods word and I have been released for the disease to please. Thank you Lord for your love, forgiveness and lesson in life that bring us closer to each other. God Bless
Jenni Mac says
I am sobbing as I read this. I wonder how much different I would be now if I hadn’t lived the last 37 years of my life under the pressures of trying desperately to be perfect, and always falling short. My husband says that even if I did approach my perfect, I would raise the bar even higher as I got there just because. Who was I trying to please? Me or God? It breaks my heart. Was I created to be a perfectionist, or am I fighting who I was created to be by trying to be perfect?
Shannon Steckel says
Jenni, I’m a pleaser too especially with my Mom. I feel like I can never please her but I know in my heart I know she is please but my self-confidence is low in this area. She doesn’t want to let me go and free me on my own. We are gift from God. He is our Father and Creator. He created us, know our plans so it’s all in His hands. It’s not easy and can be very difficult but I’m so thankful for this study.
Faith Doud says
Great chapter on perfection. I am one who puts the pressure on myself to always be prepared, planned and perfection is another area of my over-doing. I also expect others to take on the same desires of striving that I put on myself. This shows me that changing my mind set is what is important and accepting myself and others as we are not perfect till heaven. Acceptance is so important!!
Shannon Steckel says
I have the same issue because I look at some of my friends who are married, have children, husband, I realized it’s not always easy giving your time. They have family and friends family that they get together I remember that in my childhood years but since I’ve been laid off twice and only working 8-10 hours right now. I really can’t do anything due to budget and my friends who have families I feel like they will feel sorry for me which I know they really don’t feel that way. But that is the way they give and show there love. However, now since I can’t do zumba probably for 3 months which was my main social time with bible scripture at beginning of class, devotional at the end. I miss that so much. Even though it may feel weird to show up at the devotions time. I don’t know but I will just pray and go from there and hope for the best. Thank you for your prayers.
I thought I was one of a few that struggled with this. Didn’t realize so many people do! It seems to affect so many aspects of my life. Good to know there is a way out of the vicious cycle.
I am new to the blog and am so blessed that today’s topic is really hitting home. I am going through so many struggles in my life (marriage, children, work, etc) and it seems all of it is piling up on the other… I find it hard to regain and maintain the joy I once had. I recognize my own flaws and sins, and need to work on those before I can ever expect the other areas of my life to change. It is only through God’s unfailing mercy that I find the strength to try again…His Example makes me shameful to do any different.
I so needed this at this point in my life! I am constantly comparing myself and when it comes to myself I feel the need to be perfect. It doesn’t help that I work at a place that expects everyone to be perfect as well. I have been struggling and praying and Thursday I put in my notice to resignation at my work and I am taking a HUGE leap of faith that God is going to provide for me. I am a single mother and I just can’t continue to work with negative comments and never measuring up. So, thank you for this excerpt and thank you for the chance to win a copy of this. I know I am my worst critic and nothing I seem to do is enough or right, I have felt such peace since putting my notice in and I am struggling to not let my doubts and insecurities change my mind and retract it.
I love that Kay said “We need to fire our inner critic”. Thank you so much for sharing this excerpt from Kay’s book “Choose Joy”.
I am going through Kay’s online 30-day devotional messages; powerful to say the least.
Thank you for the chance to win Kay’s book.
Acceptance of who we are and how we are made is such a struggle for most people, myself including. We live in a world that portrays a certain style, way of living and especially how our body is to look. God made us exactly the way we should be. We are perfect in Him. It has taken me years to realize when I criticize other people for not being perfect “like me” or doing it the way i would… it is heart issue within myself. We all have issues whether it be self image, acceptance, hurts..the list could go on. The world is not perfect, people are not perfect…I’m not perfect BUT God is! I’m learning to relax and let things happen without getting “uptight”. Thank God He loves me through my imperfections! Oh how He loves us!!
I was encouraged and also reminded when I read this paragraph. It really spoke to me:
“So it’s not wrong to long for perfection; it’s just wrong to expect it on earth. It isn’t found here. There truly is something wrong with everything. That’s not just me, an Eeyore, talking. It’s recognizing the fact that we live under the curse. Perfection will only come when God creates the new heaven and the new earth and paradise is restored. ”
Thanks for sharing.
I am having a hard week… everything is changing in my life. My husband is ill in hospital and when he gets our he will have oxygen at home. He has a lot of health issues. My granddaughter who never speaks to any of the family (neither does her mom), has divorced or separated from her husband. She is very young and we had raised her for her first 16 years. 20 now. my best friend who was like a sister moved away..i have no real sisters. I now baby sit my youngest grandson..that is GOOD, its just 2-3 days a week, but LOL i have to get up really early and that is a routine change.
Good thing… really good thing… God has taught me not only do I need to “get everything right”, I truly CANT, its impossible and he loves me anyhow.
But all these changes are a bit overwhelming to my heart.
I guess so that is good because it sure sends me to GOD.
Whining over, life goes on and there will be many blessings even in this very day…just need to look for them.
And for the first time since the grand-daughter left, i have no idea where she lives.. but I am trying to trust that God does.
Susan M. says
Dodi, my heart breaks for you and your family, prayers for the Holy Spirit to move in the hearts of all to start to heal the speration and bring people back together in love and acceptance~~~also for your husband to regain his strength when he is home~~~~hang in there, remember Who is your Rock and who holds you in the shadow of His wings~~~~Blessings Sue
I would love to have a copy of Kay’s book. The title says it all. I think my husband, through his midlife crisis, is seeking for what he thinks is happiness….passion in life and in personal relationships, escape from boredom, distraction from realization that he is getting older. Instead, he should really seek joy in his relationship with God. That is my prayer for him and for myself. God, please give me joy in my life, regardless of my circumstances.
Ellen M says
Oh, how this post has hit home for me. I have most certainly added this book to my wish list. I am a perfectionist in so many areas of my life – it’s exhausting. I need to re-read this post, go to my knees, and seek out God’s answers for how to fix it.
Growing up with an abusive Dad, I had to strive consistantly to be smart enough, do things well enough, be nice enough, etc. to win his affirmation that was rarely there. I knew that I had to be as perfect as possible to win his love instead of this anger. These feelings drove me to excel in my profession at the cost of a family. It took about sixty years to realize that I was good at what I did, that, though it might be very good, it would never be “perfect and to accept that ~ and be pleased at well it really did turn out. I have found such an inner peace realizing that what can do is the best I can and be happy.
Thank you for expressing why I can’t let go of striving for perfection. It’s something we long for because it was lost with sin but will be returned in paradise. I’m glad that I can choose joy 🙂
Jessica Fish says
Oh my goodness! This is me!!!! I so needed this to tonight. I have been struggling with finding the perfect guy and having the perfect job that will fit into my perfect life!! But I need to sit down, fire my inner critic, and realize that God’s Devine plan for me is just that, his plan. It surely will not be perfect, the hours I work may not be favorable, and the man that I fall in love with probably won’t have everything on my checklist. But God has put these things in my life for a reason, they are all part of his plan and I will find peace in these things. Then when all is right and I am sittin with the Lord in heaven, he will reveal to me the pieces that make everything else perfect!! Thank you so much Renee and Kay for these words I wisdom. I feel much better on the inside right now.
Definitely need to read this book!!!!! I am a perfectionist, and it frustrates me greatly when things don’t happen perfectly. When having company, especially, because I want everything perfect, I get uptight, and often take out my frustrations and anxieties out on my husband or kids……not good! This encouraged me to look at it in a hope-filled way, that one day things will be perfect….not now, but to accept that – and I Always try to remember Gods perfect plans and timing, which make up for my own imperfections!
I’m more of a perfectionist when it comes to myself than to others. I give other people far more grace than I give myself. I liked Kay’s point about how a desire for perfection is rooted in our longing for Heaven. It’s the expectation, not the desire that is harmful.
i commented earlier on your devotion about the “comparison trap” – thinking everybody else does things perfectly. TodayI am reeling from an inner comparison of how I did something and how I think I should have done something else, constantly beating myself up, constantly looking for perfection. Thanks for reminding me not to look inward or outward but upward.
Wow, this hits close to home for me too. I often avoid doing things I need/want to do if I think I can’t do it “perfectly”. I’m definitely putting “Choose Joy” on my “wanted” book list.
Jennifer Wallin says
Oh my goodness….how this hit a chord with me. I am a perfectionist in certain things. One of my biggest fears is that my issues will affect my children. (I homeschool them.) The last thing I want is to harm their self esteem by something I say or do. 🙁 I know I will not be a perfect mom…..that has already been proven in my life. However, I PRAY that God will guard my mouth in all situations when I am talking to my children, my husband, anyone! Perfectionism can turn into criticism very easily. Lord, help me to accept all the unique character qualities of myself, my precious kids, and my dear husband today!! And quite frankly…….let me relax my expectations of everyone and rest in YOU ALONE! AMEN!!!!!!!!!
Be Blessed ~
Kathy Sturgis says
I am so glad she gave the antidote to perfectionism. It helps to know what to “put on” when you “put off” something. It will also help me with other areas that need cutting and replacing. thanks!!!!!
Alexis M says
Such wonderful insight. I never thought of my perfectionism as something normal that God created us to long for. Put in perspective, perfectionism could actually be good for us. Thinking of it in this way creates more of a longing for the Day when it will be possible. 🙂 Thanks!!!
Ami R says
Wow!!! I love “that my desire for perfection in and of itself isn’t wrong, we were made for it.” This is big for me. I have felt like I was wrong all these years. I can have freedom in my desire for it and freedom in knowing it just isn’t possible on “this” earth. Thank you.
Thanks for your insights. They are very helpful and explain a lot. This put perfection in perspective for me. I hope to put it into practice, that is, to do my best here on earth and not be so hard on myself or others.
Kimberly W says
Absolutely loved to hear this! I can kind of relate to Kay and her story of being a perfectionist. I don’t like making mistakes… (even though I know I’m going to make them)… and I always have had a hard time forgiving myself when I do make those mistakes. But through this study, and from what God is teaching me through it, is to ACCEPT who I am in Him… (not who I am in this flesh). If I’m living in the Spirit, and being led by Him he will take care of me. His grace is sufficient for me, when I’m not. When I fail, his grace is sufficient to help me with whatever I mess up with. I thank God for this message today to remind me I’m not perfect, and I will never be… so quit trying to be. I’m going to learn to accept Kim for who she is, and who she is in Christ Jesus. We are not made righteous by our works, lest any man should boast… but we were saved through grace, by faith. Thank you Jesus!
Jenny Mabe says
That was so needed. I could relate to that post because st times I want things to be perfect. Thanks for reminding me that things don’t always have to be perfect. I need to learn to accept things just the way they are and we can’t control the way they happen. Right now I am struggling with the changes that are going on at church. I need the joy of the Lord and his strength right now and that he is in control and he knows what he is doing.