Progress > Perfection

Progress > Perfection | Millennials with Meaning
Photo by Jonathan Hoxmark on Unsplash

I am really, really, really, really, really, really hard on myself.

I know perfection’s not the goal, that excellence is a better thing to strive for, yet I still can’t seem to shake off this need to be as perfect as I possibly can.

I want acceptance. I want love. I want to avoid criticism and rejection and pain and hurt. I want to avoid the judgment and condemnation from others that I’ve experienced too many times.

So I do the absolute best I can. Actually, sometimes I surprise myself and do even better! But I never reach the standard I want to reach in any area. I’m never as smart or funny or pretty or talented or charismatic or popular or fearless or polished as I want to be.

And when I measure myself by the standards of perfection I envision in my head, I never will be. I’m always discouraged, because I always fall short.

I was really challenged in school last week by one of our BSSM Online leaders, Ruth Moore. She encouraged us to celebrate our baby steps and recognize that we’ve probably actually made more progress than we think we have. As an example, she shared about the child who wants to grow taller and measures his height every day. If he’s measured every single day, he won’t see any growth; he’ll only be discouraged! But if he tracks his growth once a year, he’ll see progress. His growth will be clear.

The same is true of growth in any area of our lives. If we obsessively measure ourselves every day, we won’t see that we’ve made any progress and we’ll conclude that we haven’t made any. But if we measure our progress on a yearly basis or at less regular intervals, we’ll inevitably discover that we’ve made progress. We’ll usually find that we’ve made more progress than we thought.

When I measure myself against the standard of perfection, I will be disappointed in myself. Somehow my actions never match my sparkly, Barbie-like visions of what I’d like my life to look like. (Imagine that!) But when I measure myself against the person I was one, two, five, ten, or fifteen years ago, I can clearly see so many ways I’ve grown. Those things don’t seem all that significant until I really sit down to think about them. I always find I’ve grown more than I thought I had.

I may not have the confidence of Donald Trump, but I’m more confident than I used to be.

I don’t have much of the Bible memorized, but I have more of it memorized than I thought I was capable of.

I’m still figuring out what God’s calling for me looks like, but I have a lot more clarity than I had in the past.

I have super awkward conversations all the time, but you know what? A few years ago I wouldn’t have had them at all, because I would’ve been too scared to even initiate certain conversations.

I don’t look like a supermodel, but thank God I look better than I did in junior high! 😉

I wish I was a perfect writer, daughter, friend, cook, role model, and Christian. I’m not. But I’m better in all those areas than I once was.

Perfection should never be the goal, because it’s unattainable. But each one of us can discover that we’ve made progress if we look back over the big picture of our lives.

Striving for perfection will burn you out and make you crazy. Do the best you can, give yourself grace, and track your progress! You’ve come farther than you think and you’ve conquered more mountains than you realize. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by just how much progress you’ve made.

You’re doing a good job. As Walt Disney would say, “Keep moving forward.” You’ve come so far already, you’re a work in progress, and the best is still to come.

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