Loved, No Matter What
Did you know that procrastination is a form of perfectionism? I didn’t know this until around a year ago, and it blew my mind! I have never thought of myself as a perfectionist. Things like neat handwriting or close attention to detail are just not me. I always say I wait until the last minute to do things so I don’t overthink it and just do it. Or I just decide not to do it at all because I can’t do it the exact way I wanted. Which, on reflection, sounds exactly like perfectionism. I’ve seen this pop up so much in my life, especially relating to church and my own spiritual wellbeing.
I’ve discovered that situations where I’m not totally sure of the “rules” or am a little out of my element are stressful to me. So, something like a solo-social event (like a Relief Society activity) or going to the temple are definitely causes for anxiety! For the first few years of going to the temple, I would worry about little things, like if my earrings were the “right color” or if it was okay to wear a necklace. And not saying things or doing things correctly or going to the right place was a HUGE stress for me. I would find a lot of reasons not to go to the temple. If I couldn’t do something “right,” maybe I wouldn’t do it at all.
Another way I see this stealth perfectionism show up today is in my scripture study. If I am not sure I’ll have a “perfect” study experience, I have a hard time studying. If my kitchen isn’t clean, I can’t get out my scriptures. If it isn’t perfectly peaceful, it doesn’t make sense to study. If I’m not in the most sunshiny mood, how could I expect it to be worthwhile? I become paralyzed by my desire to have a “perfect” study session.
Here's the thing: in this life we will always be imperfect. But we will get better each time we allow ourselves to try! The Lord loves effort and effort doesn’t have to be perfect. If I allow my imperfections to be part of my worship, I give myself a chance to grow closer to the Savior. In Moroni 10:32 it says “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him … Love God with all your might, mind and strength, then … by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ.” It will never be me who makes myself “perfect.”
Since identifying all these procrastinator thoughts as the thoughts of a secret perfectionist, how have I gotten over it? How do I help myself out and still try to have good spiritual experiences? Obviously, I’m not perfect (ha), but I’m trying think about myself less. Often taking cues from other people help me see how to have a good, spiritual experience without judging myself so harshly.
It also helps to remember times when I have had really, spiritually fulfilling experiences. Did those moments happen because I felt pressured to be perfect? Judged for making a mistake? Or was it an overwhelming feeling of love and acceptance that allowed the Spirit to speak to my heart? Heavenly Father knows we can’t be perfect, that’s why He sent the Savior to show us the way and create the way. And even when I am not perfect I feel Heavenly Father and Savior’s love, no matter what.
- Emily Liddle