I have written before about recovering from perfectionism, and how sometimes I’m tempted to try and lop off or prune away aspects of my humanity that God intends to cultivate. I recently heard someone describe autoimmune responses as a person’s body ‘accidentally attacking healthy cells,’ and it stood out to me as an apt description for this immaterial iteration of the same issue. I’ve been thinking that it’s impossible to be a ‘perfectionist’ without accidentally attacking healthy aspects of your personhood.

I’ve seen this most clearly in my own life as it pertains to the dynamic trio of pleasure, desire, and delight. Recently, I’ve seen how a dis-eased relationship to enjoyment is in conflict with seeking first the Kingdom.

One of the hallmarks of perfectionism as I’ve experienced it is the self-righteous drive to avoid error and ill-motive at all costs. This often manifests in a distrust of one’s own desires, and a subtle, but increasing resentment towards oneself for having desires at all {that must be constantly judged and exhaustively evaluated}. Like a dis-eased immune system that attacks healthy cells, you shame and judge and attempt to purge yourself of attachment to the things and thoughts that bring delight when they are actually indicators of God’s purpose for your life.


since my calling is creativity,
it matters whether or not my life and environment are conducive to that.
it’s no more a self-indulgent luxury than rest is.


The underlying striving of perfectionism is not just a tireless attempt to self-purify; it morphs into the futile pursuit of an elusive eventuality when every conceivable task at hand has been fully and flawlessly executed . . . when there is nothing out of place or in need of improvement, and you are finally ‘allowed’ to breathe. In this lane of living, breathing at all is associated with a hostaged rest that must be merited. There’s a fearful and effortful frenzy that has far too much to prove.

But breath is not a luxury; because we are not machines.

At some point you will run out of energy. Emotional energy, mental energy, spiritual and physical energy. Eventually, your focus and pursuit become the finish line itself, and the small prizes you begin to feel entitled to along the way. You become less of what you were created to be, sweating out all the good stuff like pleasure and desire and joy and delight; grasping at flimsy paper cups with mere ounces of dehydrating liquids . . materialism, accolades, covetousness . . . over-consuming actual diruetics like coffee or alcohol or tea. The further you feel from the end of your race, the more desperately you try to gather up what you think will keep you going, all the while wrestling with guilt for having need or want of something that is more than merely mechanical; drowning in resentment. This is not the way of faith.

The way of faith is resting in God’s goodness and decisions. He places us in His Kingdom and Body as He sees fit. And He is who we have to answer to . . . He is the One to whom we must give an account.

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Jesus is not offering us a pitstop, He is offering us a path; a continually restful way of living . . .
a vine to abide in as grafted branches; unending and unlimited supply of nutrients and resources so that in every season, through drought and in old age, we never cease to bear fruit. We are promised that as we seek first the Kingdom, everything we need will be added to us {Matthew 6:33}.
Jesus assures us that it is our Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom {Luke 12:32}
. . . on earth as it is in heaven . . . tools for the task; provision in every way in every season that we need it.

If we are artists, we need aesthetic and inspiration and instruments and time. In addition to life’s essentials, we need margin to just exist in the world. But we can’t start there, seeking that. We must seek Him and the Kingdom. The moments we curate and the stories we tell become empty and dissatisfying if we don’t. More than we need time to ourselves or with other creatives, we need time to just be with God.

there’s more to the dream than empty reef passes.”

whitman bedwell, TSJ 30.4

We have to yield ourselves to the Potter’s Will as living sacrifices. We have to be faithful and obedient. Sometimes we have to wake up earlier than our bodies want to and sometimes we have to sing in front of strangers when we’d rather be at home. If I am a songstress, I don’t get to just decide to be something else instead and still expect to experience the delight of a joyful journey and a light life. Nor do I have the autarky to cower in the face of intimidation, get distracted by comparison, or give weight and place to the fear of being judged and misunderstood.

I must reject the foolish arrogance of envy and cultivate the humility to receive the assignment that is given to me, regardless of whether or not I or anyone else believes that the caliber of what I create justifies the goodness of being called to create it. Regardless of our calling, the path of discipleship is one of pleasure and desire and delight.


YOU MAKE KNOWN TO ME THE PATH OF LIFE; IN YOUR PRESENCE THERE IS FULLNESS OF JOY; AT YOUR RIGHT HAND ARE PLEASURES FOREVERMORE.
{PSALM 16:11}


LIGHT LIFE


COME TO ME
ALL WHO ARE WEARY
AND I WILL GIVE YOU REST

LEARN FROM ME ALL WHO WOULD LIVE LOWLY – RECEIVE MY GENTLENESS

I’LL BE YOUR SHEPHERD,
I WON’T TROUBLE YOUR SOUL WITH A HEAVY BURDEN
OR A HARD LOAD

MY YOKE IS EASY AND MY BURDEN IS LIGHT

IT’S A JOYFUL JOURNEY
IT’S A GOOD LIFE

THE LORD IS MY SHEPHERD HE RESTORES MY SOUL
WITH A JOYFUL JOURNEY
AND A LIGHT LOAD

take heart,
R.

C O M M E N T S

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