key-keys-mixture-4677-825x550I used to be a formula girl.  Tell me how to get an A and I am on it!  Formulas are a perfectionists friend! Well the perfectionist part, more than the friend part. Sure, we are exhausted, never satisfied and cranky but we are on performance overdrive!

Formulas mean there is 1 right answer, the rest are wrong.  That is a pretty high -okay impossible- standard for living with any joy and grace.

I am now a recovering perfectionist, and am sure that a 12 step program for formula girls would be helpful.  Maybe I should start one, God knows I have am the poster child for life long recovery from this debilitating disease.

Grace isn’t about formulas. Grace is. Period end of sentence.

Grace- Unearned, but freely given.  Costly beyond our wildest dreams or mind can fathom.  But paid for and Free to you and me.

Grace is.

Why then did I cling to formulas?  ME.  If I could just get it right, be good enough- as perfect as possible- maybe I would deserve the forgiveness and Grace of God.

Remember when WWJD was all the rage?  It is a terrific thing to ask in terms of checking our hearts, motives, selfishness or judgement.  I loved the book In His Steps.  I wanted to be more like Jesus.

But WWJD  sent this formula girl to the Scriptures to figure out just “what would Jesus do,” so I could make a chart and get on with being “perfect.”  I found an interesting dilemma leading to what I call formula chaos!

WWJD was hard to pin down formula wise – Jesus didn’t always do the same thing in the same situations. (Formula chaos alert-ie, no real formula to be found!)

Jesus is walking down the street, and his buddies see a blind man by the side of the road.  They asked Jesus whose sin caused this blindness.  Jesus totally confuses them when he says, neither – Don’t look for cause -effect here, Look instead for what God can do.” (Msg) Then He spit on the ground,  made mud  and smeared on the blinds man eyes – then told him to go to the nearby pool and wash it off.  (with no mention of how a blind man was supposed to find said pool, being blind and all. )

I mad a note:  Okay spit, mud and smear on those who need help or healing.

Later, I read another story about a different blind man Jesus heals.  This time the blind man is shouting to Jesus as he is walking by with his buddies.  Jesus’ buddies tell the blind man to shut up and leave Jesus alone.  (how is that Christ like?)

Clearly this man is blind wanted something.  And after repeatedly being shouted at, Jesus stops and asks the blind man, “What do you want from me?”

Pause here and just compare those two beginnings:

Blind Man #1 is minding his own business and Blind Man #2  is screaming at Jesus to help him. Jesus doesn’t ask Blind Man #1 what he wants, but does ask Blind Man #2.  (hmmm… so is it right to ask or not to ask? – formulas chaos alert!)

Jesus looks at a blind man and says What do you want me to do for you?  What??? Clearly he is blind- it’s obvious what he wants!  And Jesus knew what the man wanted, because Jesus knew that kind of stuff before people said it!

So, why did Jesus ask him?

I have no idea!

And, it gets even more confusing to try to pin down the “right way” to heal a blind man – or interact with someone who needs help or healing  in today’s vernacular.   Because this time, there is no spitting, no making mud pies, no smearing!

Just asking and then the spoken words, “your faith has healed you.”

Clearly the is NOT A formula for how to handle this situation!

Bad news for a type A, formula driven, how do I get an A kind of girl.  OR maybe the best news ever!!

There is NO formula!  There is only a relationship with Jesus to shape who we are and how we live by faith and grace.

I have been in recovery from “formula bondage” for years.  I still get nervous when I am not sure  if it I should spit and make mud or ask questions and speak – and so I lean into Grace.

It isn’t a formula that saves us.  It is our faith in the Grace of God.

For a season, I studied Jesus in the gospels looking  at all the ways He interacted with people.  I saw His humanity – laughter, hunger, sorrow, playful, disappointed, angry… all the things we feel.

It made Him even more real to me in my walk of faith.  I met him first as the Son of God, my Savior and not as Peter, James, Mary did- as a man… fully human just like them, but radically different. And it took them a while to really grasp His divinity!

I focused on getting to know who this Jesus was when he lived and walked among us and doing so made me fall in love with Him even more.  WWYD is all about love, relationship and grace.

Today we celebrate Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy week. Driven by love for the Father and for us,Jesus entered Jerusalem to the cries of praise that would soon turn to shouts of  condemnation.

WWYD is all about love, relationship, faith and grace.

Can you relate to wanting a  formula where God asks instead for faith and relationship?  How do you find the answers to the question WWJD?

4 Responses to “Confessions of a recovering perfectionist.”

  1. Linda

    What a WOW! experience to realize Excellence was good enough! Yippee!
    Well, maybe not.
    Not that Excellence wasn’t good enough, but that Perfection wasn’t the goal. This Daddy’s Girl had been brought up to go for perfection with the full expectation of achieving it. Every time. Fortunately, for me, that kept me striving: it didn’t paralize me. It could have worked either way.
    Truthfully, I still have days when the distinction between the two eludes me.
    Truthfully, I would like to do things perfectly, but have absolutely no wish to be perfect.
    When I pass through this life and into the next I want nothing more than to be His Good and Faithful Servant in whom He is well pleased. That is perfect enough for me!
    In the meantime, I will strive for excellence (OK, maybe I am really pursuing Perfection, but that isn’t attainable. A girl has to be realistic!) to bring honor to the talents and skills bestowed upon me by my Father in heaven.

    • Susie Miller

      Oh Linda, we have the same illness! Perfection expected and assumed! it is a grueling road and crippling weigh to bear. I am now a recovering perfectionist – maybe we should brain storm a 12 step program : Moving from perfectionism to peace! What would be your top 3 steps?

      • Linda

        OK–You can see the impact of my business orientation. Have a problem? Identify it. Make a plan to solve it. Review results & revise. Start the process again.

        Who are the victims of perfectionism?
        What is the spiritual aspect?

        Perfection to Peace
        1. Acknowledge the condition.
        2. Identify its characteristics and consequences.
        3. Find sources of help.
        4. Make a plan.
        5. Work the plan.
        6. Review.
        7. Revise.
        8. Work the revised plan.
        9. Reach out and share the plan.


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