In some ways, Kim Hyland and I are different. She’s soft-spoken, and I’m loud. She’s lovely, and I’m a little looney. 🙂 But at our core, Kim and I recognized each other as sisters right away. She’s one of us! She’s a reforming perfectionist who is finding deep joy in letting go. Please welcome my friend Kim, author of An Imperfect Woman, to the blog today. (And make sure to leave a comment to enter to win a copy of her new book!)
It was one of the first plays I’d ever auditioned for.
At sixteen, I was a college freshman, and my introverted self was struggling to connect socially. Drama wasn’t my thing, but I thought it would be a fun way to get involved and make some new friends.
The audition went surprisingly well. I reached down deep and drew out my inner diva (believe me, it took some digging). A few days later, I made call backs for the musical part of the audition! This should have been easy for me. I’d spent my high school years touring with our church choir and had even sung a few solos. I loved to sing.
But I bombed the audition.
I could feel it even as I sang the simple selection. I wasn’t giving my all. Shoot, I wasn’t even giving my mediocre half-best. Something in me was quitting before they could cut me. My fear of vulnerability and failure combined with my need for control were making me self-sabotage—the ugly underbelly of perfectionism.
It’s been called the fear of success, and it’s a bit of a mystery. Why would we fear succeeding in our pursuits? It doesn’t make sense. That is unless we think success means maintaining some vague standard of perfection. Then the fear of success makes perfect sense. We should be afraid of it.
Perfection is too heavy a burden to carry, so we undermine our own efforts and self-sabotage.
The connection between perfectionism and self-sabotage is subtle. The real saboteur is Satan, and he’s always been good at disguising his strategies. He knows well the truths that can so easily escape us:
- Our dreams are planted in our hearts by God.
- They bring energy, meaning, and purpose to our lives.
- They’re a place of deep intimacy with our Father.
Is it any wonder Satan goes after our dreams? They have the potential to bring us closer to God, so our enemy does all he can to sabotage our efforts. And he’s more than happy to let us do his job for him.
That’s where perfectionism comes in. It’s Satan’s tool to keep us from acknowledging our deep need. Instead, we pursue endeavors and dreams with the destructive and dynamic duo of self-reliance and unrealistic ideals. When that burden inevitably becomes too heavy, we either press on to our own harm or we give up and quit.
Perfectionism denies the reality of our weakness.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not us. (2 Corinthians 4:7)
Weakness is part of God’s intentional design for us. He could have made us jars of titanium but instead he chose clay, so we would know where power truly comes from. We might be weak, but God is more than enough.
He doesn’t call us to pursue our dreams because He thinks we can do it alone. He calls us because he wants to manifest His power through us and to let us be a part of what He is doing in His kingdom.
When we humbly acknowledge our constant need for God’s strength, it silences the saboteur. Free from the burden of perfectionism, we discover the security, power, and generous heart of our perfect Father.
Kim Hyland is a writer, a speaker, and the founder and host of Winsome, an annual retreat for women that celebrates authenticity, diversity, and truth. She also speaks at national retreats and conferences, where she encourages women by sharing her imperfect path and God’s perfect plans. Originally from the DC metro area, she now lives with her family on a mountain overlooking the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Connect with Kim at WinsomeLiving.com.
In An Imperfect Woman, Hyland offers women a stirring manifesto for acknowledging their limitations and embracing the perfection of God through his grace. This is a book for every woman who gives 110% and yet feels shame when one little thing goes wrong.
To enter to win a copy of An Imperfect Woman, leave a comment. If you’re living life on the fly, simply say, “I let go of having it all together!”