How I Came to be a Recovering Perfectionist

When I started this blog, it wasn’t with the intention of sharing it with the world.  It was a place where I came to write out things that were happening in my world and I invited just a few close friends and family members to read. The honest truth: I battle with anxiety.  It’s an ongoing struggle.  Some days I feel confident in my own skin, as though I could take on any challenge.  There are other days that my insides scream at me.

Fears and doubts and worries run rampant.  Not measuring up to the expectations of others plague my mind.  Insecurities about the way that I process thoughts and often stutter over normal conversation cause me to freeze up or want bolt in the opposite direction when faced with one-on-one contact.

Anxieties and fears that others will view me as “too different” and come to the conclusion that I am unlovable haunt me daily.  I’ve done the therapy route.  I’ve done the medication.  I’ve even done Buddhist meditation. Nothing has provided the quick fix.   So I’m sure you’re wondering how I came to be a recovering perfectionist.

When I made the scary decision to open up the blog to others, my anxieties went from this pesky shadow, to a perpetual cloud that followed me.  I suddenly found that I needed to hide my imperfections, my flaws.  As a voice that I felt was called to inspire others to become the best versions of themselves (the original mission of this blog) I felt trapped in a monster of my own making.I felt like, if I was to inspire others to be their best versions, then I needed to show the best version of me, and so my writing changed.  I changed.  The content I shared was very surface level and didn’t dig deeper into who I am, other than sharing stories of my singleness.  And it surely did not accurately represent the person that God made in me.

A conversation, completely unrelated to blogging opened something up inside of me.  I was unhappy with how my life was shaping up, having to put on a display, a front, an act for others, as I tried to squash any existence of the fact that I’m flawed and I’m human.  It was a constant evaluation of what I said and did.  It was exhausting.  But it was the words of my brother, that made me see just what I am and what I’m meant to be.

On a car ride home from church I was complaining about the encounter I had had with a colleague in interpreting for the church.  Andy told me that interpreting shouldn’t cause so much stress.

He said, “You’re an empty vessel for God, to be used for His calling.  You are to empty yourself in order to be filled by His message.”

He also reminded me that our pastors are not perfect, their sermons and their words choices are not perfect, and therefore, I am permitted to be imperfect myself.

Light bulb!  The façade, like a smokescreen, suddenly dissipated and I was permitted to see life as what it is, full of flaws, but made beautiful because of Christ.  

My life didn’t need to be a giant game of charades, acting out what others needed to see in order to understand the answers.  My life, my interpretation, and my relay of message, both in interpreting and blogging, did not need to be 100% accurate.

Yes, it’s important to deliver the message with the same intent as the one that originally delivered it, but there is room for interpretation.  And should an error occur, or a flaw be displayed publicly, I should own up to it and accept it as a badge of honor, one that I wear proudly that says, “I made a mistake and I will learn from this.  I will be stronger and more capable of handling the future with more grace and confidence.”

So through the ashes and smoke I stumbled out, bewildered and temporarily blind to the brilliance of that light and truth.  It’s not a 1000 watt light bulb blazing, but the light of the Son shining down and through me.

Out of those ashes, bursting forth with new strength, like a phoenix from flames, strode forth a new philosophy, a new approach to my delivery of words and through my hands.

And a new name and mission was born through The Imperfect Vessel.

And suddenly as I was freed from the chains of the constant upkeep and act of perfection, and my story was easier to tell.

It isn’t as anxiety-inducing as I once thought.  It opened up new opportunities of connecting with my readers and my God.  I don’t have to live in fear of someone finding out my flaws; I’m sharing them voluntarily and it’s been so liberating.

Sure there are still days that anxieties grips me round the throat and threatens to strangle the life and tear away the story from my grasp.  It’s a battle that I’m sure I will war against for my entire life.  But it’s a battle that I know that I don’t have to fight alone.  Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ is with me, and Christ within me.

A simple conversation with a kid, who is not really much of a kid anymore, made all the difference and taught me a very valuable lesson.  My story is important.  And so is yours.  But what is even more important and is the taking that leap of faith and initiate the act of sharing that story.  And just to one up that, there is importance in the manner in which you deliver it.

Do it with transparency, with an ounce (or two, or ten) of humility, and own up to the fact that you are not perfect.  You are riddled with flaws.  And that’s okay.  Everyone is.

Through your transparency and sharing of the real you, others will see that imperfection can be transforming and even beautiful.  No one is perfect.  No one except Jesus.  And that’s quite alright because He’s on our side, shining His perfection and beauty on us and through us.

20 comments

  1. Bree,
    What a brave post! I’m a recovering perfectionist too 🙂 and it’s a hard realizing that I don’t have to do everything perfectly, but I’m learning to give grace to others and myself. Glad I stopped by from Holley’s link-up today!

    1. Thanks Valerie! And congrats to you for coming to that hard realization. Thank you so much for linking up and stopping by!

    1. Thanks, Elizabeth! I’m glad you stopped by and took the time to comment.

  2. Thanks SO much for your honesty and transparency. I too, blogged about perfectionism this week! You have a great voice, and you are needed out there to bless others. I hope you know that! Blessings!

    1. Michelle, thank you so much for your encouragement. It’s really something to be able to open up and not fear what others think; to be unapologeticly me. I look forward to reading your post as well! Be blessed!

  3. I am a recovering perfectionist too. Mine stems from being trained as a classical musician. The judgement and expectation to be perfect there seeped through my entire life. It wasn’t until I quit music that I leaned to be free, free to make mistakes, free to use music as a praise for God instead of something to be judged. It is hard, and I still struggle at times, but by the grace of God I’m growing and slowly learning to let go. Thanks for this!
    Stopping by from Thriving Thursdays.

    1. Thank you for sharing your story Crystal. It’s a hard thing to overcome, isn’t it? I’ll be praying for you that the Lord continues to work in your life to help you overcome those fears of judgement and impossible expectations. May you continue to be blessed by Him!

  4. From one recovering perfectionist to another, great post! Words to help me remember to be me. Just me. Love it.

    1. Hi Carmen! Thank you for your sweet words. It’s good to know you’re not alone, am I right!?! Keep doing your thing, just you, as you are…perfectly imperfect! Be blessed, my sister!

  5. Bree, what a “coincidence” I found your post on the Wellspring! So many of us battle with the false idea of perfection. Thanks for addressing this in your blog.
    I like your conclusion: “No one is perfect. No one except Jesus. And that’s quite alright because He’s on our side, shining His perfection and beauty on us and through us.”

    1. Welcome, Constance! First things first, I don’t believe in “coincedences” – our God’s greater than that! 🙂 I’m glad that you enjoyed and were encouraged by this post. It was one that I’ve been trying to write for a few weeks and it took God’s perfect timing for it to come out in this manner. May you be blessed!

  6. Have you read The Birth Order Book by Kevin Leman? I read it a few years ago and in it he talked about how perfectionism is a trait of firstborns, only children and those who emulate firstborns, and he talked about “discouraged perfectionists” -that’s totally the group that I fall into.

    1. I’ve not heard of that book, but it sounds interesting! Always looking for something to add to my bookshelf, so I’ll be sure to keep that name handy. Though I’m a middle child, I emulate firstborns for sure. And discouraged perfectionists – yea, that’s got Bree written all over it! Thanks for sharing, Chantel!

  7. Gahh!! That picture freaked me out a little bit- perfectionist over here (hand raised). I love what you say at the end that only Jesus is perfect… and I love that He made it so that through our imperfections we can show others Jesus.

    1. Grace, I feel on that picture girl, but I think it best describes those OCD tendencies that perfectionists often deal with. Thanks you so much for stopping by. Glad to know that you were blessed by the message!

  8. from Holley’s. Being a perfectionist can be exhausting. Hopefully, you will find lots of rest. Blessings, Linda

    1. Thanks Linda! You’re right, it can be exhausting, however, I’m learning how to find rest in God. It’s still a struggle even though I know He’s there waiting, but every day gets a bit easier to handle. Many blessings right back atcha! 🙂

  9. I love this! I often have to remind myself that I am not perfect. I try so hard sometimes to please myself and I just have to stop, take a step back and remember that He is perfect, not me. I have imperfections but they help me grow, they help me understand and they help me connect with those who have the same imperfections!

    1. Sarah, I love what you said about your imperfections helping you to grow <-- so true! It's often times that struggles and flaws that we find in ourselves that allow us to learn the hardest, but most rewarding lessons. Keep the faith going, girl, you're gonna make it. Jesus is walking with you every step of the way!

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