by Emily Ley
“I yearn for perfection, and only You are the fulfillment of that deep longing. You are perfect and holy, yet You choose to stay close to me as I walk through this sin-stained world. When I look the right way—toward blessings, toward You—the Joy of Your Presence shines brightly upon me.”
– Jesus Listens, August 30th
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” — Hebrews 12:1 NIV
Hi, my name is Emily, and I am a struggling perfectionist.
Even as I write those words, I squirm a little, because I am still very much battling my perfectionist tendencies. I’d like for my home to be spotless, my inbox to be sorted, and my children to be wonderfully behaved at all times, pretty please. Also, I would like to have abundant energy, flawless skin, and wear the jeans I wore in college. Thank you.
And yet, while I’m able to achieve some of those things some of the time (minus the jeans from college), I’m never able to achieve all of them at the same time. And even when I’m able to achieve one of them, I’ve sometimes realized that perfection wasn’t worth the cost.
In those moments I often ask myself, Can I choose good instead of perfect?
Good is a lived-in home. A space with storage and systems, baskets for blankets, boxes for toys, and a junk drawer for quickly cleaning off the kitchen counter. Our home isn’t perfect at all times, but it’s lived in. It’s full of love. It’s flexible and messy and real. And that is so much better than perfect.
I carried the weight of perfectionism for a long time. It is a heavy weight to carry and an unachievable, unmaintainable standard to aspire to. What weight are you carrying right now? What would your life look like if you laid that weight aside?
Therapy for perfectionism
I once met with a therapist during a particularly busy season. I was managing a lot of things at work and at home, and I was struggling to stop “over-functioning” and burning myself out. My therapist and I talked about perfectionism and my tendency to go all-in, all the time—and how God’s grace saves us from having to reach for such a lofty goal. A few months into our work together, I remember telling her, “I love my kids. I love my job. I love my husband. I want to be good at all my jobs, but I am trying so hard not to be that stressed-out, frazzled, overwhelmed-all-the-time woman I once was.”
“You are healing,” she said to me. “Recite these words to yourself whenever you feel those feelings coming to the surface: I am healing.”
Healing from perfectionism
Whether you are healing from perfectionism, burnout, over-functioning, trauma, illness, or grief, place your hand on your heart whenever you need to. Remind yourself, “I am healing.”
Allow God’s grace to wash over you again and again throughout the day. Allow it to release you from the bonds of perfectionism and usher you into a new way forward.
Taken from Near in the Night by Emily Ley. Copyright ©2023 by Emily Ley. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson. www.thomasnelson.com.
About The Author
Emily Ley is the founder of Simplified, a brand of planners and organizational tools for busy women. Her newest book, Near in The Night, is a collection of reflections on finding God’s peace and rest. She has been featured on Good Morning America and in Forbes, Family Circle, Better Homes and Gardens, Glamour and Good Housekeeping. Now, as an author, entrepreneur, wife and mother to three, Emily lives in Pensacola, Florida, with her husband, Bryan, their son Brady, and twins, Tyler and Caroline. Learn more at: https://emilyleybooks.com/