Give Perfectionism a Rest

IMG-0942I love my back porch. It’s without a doubt my favorite place to decompress. We’ve only sparsely furnished the space, with just a few cheap plastic chairs from Home Depot. Every time I’m out there I wish for a table for my coffee mug, but as soon as I put a cup down, a dog will have his (maybe her, but probably his) face in it. I’ve inserted a picture of our more polite female, Ivy. Bear isn’t as good at sitting still for photos.

If it weren’t for the unbearable summer heat, I’d be outside everyday. But fall is coming, and I love nothing more than a cool morning with coffee and my bible and red leaves skipping playfully across the grass.

When we moved into this house, it surprised me how much fun it is watching the birds. My daughter made a birdhouse at fine arts camp years ago. It sat in the garage, nearly forgotten, until we moved a few years ago. Todd nailed it to the fence, and not too long after, to our delight, we had a couple of blue birds, just like the one in the featured photo, living there. At first we watched them build their nest–flying off for a few minutes, returning with grass or leaves or lint from someone’s dryer vent.

But one Saturday we watched, intrigued by the flurry of activity around that little bird house. Mama and Daddy flew in and out repeatedly, all to the tune of their baby birds squawking and carrying on. I never knew that baby birds could make such a racket! We noticed that the parents took turns. One would sit on the fence and chase off the mockingbirds, cardinals and other nosy neighbors, while the other grabbed bugs or worms for the kiddos.

It seems a lot of work to be a bird. Wouldn’t it be disastrous if they had to sow and reap and defend the nest and take care of the kids? That would never work. They do as they are designed to do. The pressure of provision lands squarely on the shoulders of the One who has unlimited time and resources. The birds simply gather what God provides.

Facebook Birds of the Air

It made me think about the war I’m having to wage against perfectionism–how much work I do and what it’s all for. Am I doing the things that God designed me to do? Or am I unnecessarily adding labor that is apart from His will for my life? All that extra labor interferes with the abundant life that Jesus promised. We find ourselves asking God where He is when things get difficult. Perhaps we only have to remove the obstacles that we’ve placed in the way—obstacles created from all our “stuff”.

So much of what we’re after—so much of what gets our time and our energy—is optional. In the abundance of our culture, we don’t work merely for provision. We work for comfort. For prestige. We’ve invented a works-based fulfillment, where so much of our ambition is focused on bringing us material satisfaction rather than spiritual contentment.

But in the end—do I ever arrive? Am I ever satisfied? Honestly, no. Not when I’m trying to be the source of my own fulfillment.

It isn’t that birds don’t work. They just don’t run after things that don’t matter. They gather what God has for them, and it is exactly what they need. If the abundant life that Jesus promised defines our contentment, then the things we gain in an attempt to create fulfillment will never satisfy. He alone satisfies.

And Matthew 6:26 tells us that He does all of this for us because of our worth. That’s an awesome thought. The Living God values ME.

In order to fix this problem in my life, I had to quit my job. I didn’t do it willingly, per se. It was more of a breakdown after having a miscarriage and a few other personal setbacks. But it forced me to trust God with money, with my identity and value, with each step that I take from here on. I had to ask God to tell me, “Exactly what am I supposed to be doing?”

This isn’t the first time that Todd and I have been in this situation. We can do this for a while, but it’s definitely not sustainable. We took this leap of faith, and it feels like a free fall. I find myself praying that God will snatch us before we go SPLAT. Once or twice I’ve wagged my finger toward heaven and said, “Remember, you promised!”

As if He needs reminding.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Matthew 6:25-34

We have these beautiful words to remind us of our value to the Lord. He promises to provide when we seek Him first. If we look too long on the circumstances, we feel overwhelmed with the fear that we can’t fix the problem ourselves.

But there is more than just physical provision. If we press in and seek Him, what do we find?

Provision. Peace. Purpose.


It’s all there for the taking. Let’s go gather what He provides.







4 Thoughts

  1. This is a beautiful post, and it reminds me of many similar things I have been learning, too–that we need to remove the obstacles that get in the way if us being able to see God’s beautiful gifts to us. Thank you for writing this!

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