The teacher’s words were a beacon of warning clear back in the sixth grade. She wrote them on the autobiography I had written as part of a class assignment.
“You are a wonderful student, Jennifer, and you have perfectionist qualities, but be careful of perfectionism. It can be a dangerous thing,” she wrote.
I had worked hard for that A+. I didn’t want an A-, or even an A. I wanted the “+.”
I worked hours and hours on my autobiography, carefully clipping out pictures and news clippings. I wrote a detailed story on what I expected my future to hold. I wrote that I, Jennifer Dukes, would become a writer, a book author, a psychologist. I would marry a handsome man and have twins — one girl and one boy. I would live to be 105 years old.
The teacher wrote: “You sure have your future all spec’d out. But remember: There are many tomorrows, and you never know what each day will hold.”
Fast-forward 25 years. Meet Jennifer Dukes Lee, Chronic Perfectionist.
When will I learn my sixth-grade lesson?
The ugly face of perfectionism struck home repeatedly last week: in my Bible study, my actions, my reactions, and even here at GDWJ.
During my study of Esther last week, Beth Moore encouraged us to pinpoint our deepest fears. I’ve determined that I’m not scared of many things, but the fear I do have could cripple me if I let it. This fear is so selfish and prideful, that it’s painful to even admit.
My fear: not getting things “just so.” In life, I want the A+. And if I can’t make an “A”, I don’t want to try at all.
“Be careful of perfectionism,” my teacher’s words ring in my ears. “It can be a dangerous thing.”
When will I learn the sixth-grade lesson?
The lesson hit home again this morning, when I saw that the “followers” on my blog had suddenly been cut by one-third. I immediately began the internal, irrational questioning, wagging an accusing finger for “not getting something right” and “turning readers away.”
Rational thought quickly calmed the initial panic. In all probability, the problem is most likely due to a Blogger error. But what if that wasn’t the case? What if all my “followers” suddenly disappeared? Would I be OK with just an Audience of One, the Only One who really matters?
Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ. — Galatians 1:10
Father God, Help me to live and breathe for You alone. Let my efforts in my life — at home, in ministry, here at GDWJ — bring glory to You alone. I pray now the words of my friend, when she humbly says, “Lord, I will fall flat on my face if it brings You glory. Even if I look like a fool in the process.” Father, let Your will for my life be more important than my “A.” Help me seek Your approval, and Yours alone. In Jesus’ name …