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I'm a Recovering Perfectionist + what I want you to know about "not having it all together"



Hi, my name is Ellie, and I'm a recovering perfectionist.


Ever since I was little, organization, order, and achievement have always been very important to me. I was always ahead of my classmates in school, constantly making lists, and often reorganized my closet to find the most effective system. I guess that from a young age, I started to realize that I was the one who "had it all together" (supposedly) and was doing big things, so I decided I had to maintain that reputation.


At some points, I was consumed by it. I made myself sick, worrying about my grades or relationships or other areas of my life, because I wanted to keep everything perfect and put together. I wanted to maintain the standard of excellence I had set for myself, and that people had started expecting from me. So I stressed, lost sleep, and lost my joy. Getting As and awards became my #1 priority. I stuck to a strict routine, and did all the right things I was supposed to (ie: youth group, daily Bible studies, etc) because that's what was expected of me. I became the mom of the friend group, and still to this day am known as that, because for so long, it was/is so important to me to have it all together, have all the answers, and have everything that anyone could need. People relied on me, and I couldn't let them down.


I'm still struggling with this a lot, and I've noticed that it often leaks into my relationship with God. I feel like I'm supposed to be this image of the good Christian girl, the one who has it all together and is pleasing God, the one who has all the answers and is always so joyful. It's a lot of pressure, to be completely honest with you.


As I was praying the other night, I was listing off a bunch of things I wanted to work on and fix. I was telling God all the ways I had failed that day, all the things I had struggled with, and assured Him that I'd be working on it, that it wouldn't happen again, or that I'd at least start working on figuring it out. (Looking back, I'm like, "Ellie, that's so dumb. Stop!" But in the moment, that's where my heart was at.)


And as I was praying, I stopped suddenly, and I could just hear the voice of God whisper to my heart, "Ellie. I'm proud of you. You're doing a good job. I love you."


I broke down, right then and there, in the middle of my perfectly worded prayer, because holy cow. As the encourager, the mom friend, and the straight A-student, I'm usually the one cheering others on. I try to make it a point to tell others that they're doing great, that they don't have to be perfect, and that they should show themselves some grace. But how often do I tell myself that?


How often do you tell yourself that?


Us perfectionists, we struggle to see the ways that we are already doing a good job. We're so focused on what must still be done, what still needs to be improved, and all the things we have yet to figure out. But what if we stopped for just one moment and recognized that we are doing a good job. We're here, living, breathing, learning, healing, trusting, leaning on the grace of God. Isn't that something to be proud of? Isn't that something to celebrate?


YES! Yes, sweet friend, it is.


We are doing a good job.


And let me tell you, as the Lord spoke those words to my oh so sensitive soul, it was like a weight was lifted off of me. If the God of the universe doesn't expect me to have the whole world figured out, my heart perfectly healed and my sin perfectly in check, then man, why am I expecting that of myself? If He never asked me to work so hard to fix all the broken parts of my life, then why am I asking that of myself? I don't know. I really, really, really don't know where I got that idea from, but it's a bad one.


Breaking news: I don't have it together.


Even more breaking news: I don't need to try to have it all together.


I don't have all the answers. I will never be able to solve all my friends' problems or give perfect advice to help them through whatever they're going through. I won't make the right decision all the time, despite my good intentions. I won't always understand what God is doing or be able to perfectly hear His voice. I won't ever be able to be everything for everyone.


And that's okay!!

It's okay for me, and it's okay for you.


That's the beautiful part of life.


Life is beautiful because it's a journey. A journey full of twists and turns, highs and lows, unexpected dips in the road and detours we weren't prepared for. But at the start line, did God give any of us a road map, preparing us for everything that was to come, directing our every turn?


I don't know about you, but I definitely wasn't given one of those.


That means, friends, that we don't have to know it all. We don't have to be prepared for it all or have it all figured out. My goodness, we can stop trying to be the ones who have it all together! Because we were never meant to have it all together or have it all figured out or be the image of the perfect Christian.


That's Jesus' job.


He alone has it all figured out. He has all the answers. He is perfect. Not me, not you, not anyone else you'll meet. It's not our job or our responsibility.


And by His grace, we can mess up. We can take the wrong turn and He will still help us get right where we need to be. We are allowed to be humans, imperfectly learning and trusting and believing that He will show us and help us understand whatever we need to, wherever we're at.


You are allowed to be human.


Okay?


When we allow ourselves to let go of the need to be perfect, the need to have all the answers, the need to have it all together or be everything for everyone, we experience a new kind of freedom. The one I believe Jesus desired for us to have this whole time. It's a freedom that allows us to truly explore and enjoy the life God has given us. It's a freedom that allows us to breathe and give us the space to simply be in the presence of God, with no to-do lists or checklists of how we need to be better. It's a freedom that allows us to learn and grow and experience whatever it is God has for us, with no timeline, with no pressure to make it something it was never meant to be.


Friend, that is a beautiful, beautiful place to be. That's where I want to be, and I want you to experience that too.

 

This is our (for both me and you) invitation to stop striving, stop trying to control and organize and achieve and perfect every little thing. This is our invitation to breathe and be human.


God's got it figured out so we don't have to. He has given us grace because He knows we'll need it, and it's free for the taking. We don't have to have it all together, in fact, it's good if we don't. There's beauty in learning and walking with Jesus. You can let go of that urge to be perfect, to be whatever everyone expects of you, and when you do, I promise you, life becomes so much more of an adventure with Jesus. You can finally breathe and laugh and experience all of life, without the nagging pressure to be the one who has it all together.


Because the truth is, neither of us have it all together.


And that's okay.

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