The Perfectionist’s Guide to Being Perfect

Written by Katherine Manthe / March 2017

Perfection is something I’ve struggled with my entire life. I’m the first daughter in a family of seven children, and my dad is a pastor. For as long as I can remember, I’ve felt as if I’ve been expected to be a certain person. There’s a certain cookie cutter shape of perfection that I felt I had to fit. I needed to be smart and level-headed. I needed to dress a certain way, act a certain way, and be a certain way. I needed to be a leader. I needed to be happy regardless of the circumstances. I needed to be a good example for my younger siblings. I felt as if my worth was measured in how perfect I was, how well I achieved these standards. If I failed to live up to the expectations set out for me, I was worthless.

Obviously, I’m not perfect. I’m a sinful human being. I make mistakes, and a lot of them. I sin all day, every day. It was impossible for me to live a life of perfection. I couldn’t live up to those unattainable standards. And so I failed. Over and over and over again. I began to punish myself after every unavoidable, failed attempt at being perfect. I told myself I needed to try harder next time. I told myself I had to keep pushing until I got where I wanted to be. It didn’t take long for me to realize that no matter what I did, I’d never be good enough.

I quickly became frustrated. I was angry that no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t be the perfect daughter, sister, or friend that everyone seemed to expect of me. I was so confused, so many different people telling me who I was and what I should be and how to get there and what to do to be all that. I didn’t know who to believe, so I tried to please everyone. I tried to be perfect. I became increasingly frustrated and angry with all my failures, and one day I just decided I didn’t want to try anymore. I gave up completely on being the “perfect pastor’s kid.” I didn’t want the responsibility, the leadership, the burden.

Instead of trying to work through my anger with God’s word, I turned to the world for answers. I didn’t know who I really was because I had spent my entire life being someone I wasn’t, being someone else’s idea of who I was instead of who I actually was. I became frustrated with my family and friends, feeling that they were trying to make me into something I wasn’t.

My worth is not measured in friends or likes, how many activities I’m involved in, or what my grades are. I’m a child of God. It’s as simple as that.

I wanted to be free of everything, and I figured the best way to do that was to be the opposite of what I had previously fought so hard to achieve. I didn’t want to be what everyone expected of me. I grew bolder, rebellious, and disrespectful towards my parents and teachers. The good relationships I once had with my parents and friends came crashing down around me. I didn’t feel free like I had expected. Instead, I felt more trapped than ever before. I felt lost and alone. I felt like my own parents no longer loved me because I had so completely failed to live up to their expectations. I felt broken, unloved, and unwanted.

In trying to rid myself of my cage, to be my own person and show who I truly was, I went way too far. I felt confined by who my family thought I should be, who society thought I should be, searching for the answers I so desperately needed, when in actuality, I needed to look no farther than who God said I was.

In God’s eyes, I am whole. He’s made me alive, as it says in Ephesians 2:1: “And you he made alive, who were dead in tresspasses and sins.” And yes, I sin. I stumble and I fall, but I am forgiven. John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He loves me so much that He sacrificed His son. For me. I think that is incredibly beautiful. He died for me just the way I am, there were no strings attached. I am loved, just as I am I can stop defining myself by my own attempt at perfection, because I’ve realized that He’s given me everything I’ve ever needed.

Nothing I can do will ever change that. Because He saves me, I am good enough for heaven, more than good enough, just the way I am. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, behold, all things have become new.” I am a new creation. Through Him, I am perfect. I’m no longer defined by my achievements, my successes or my failures. My worth is not measured in friends or likes, how many activities I’m involved in, or what my grades are. I’m a child of God. It’s as simple as that.

I still make mistakes, and you will too. We will fail time and time again to live up to perfection. And the thing is, Christ still saves us.. He washed us with His blood and made us clean. We are forgiven, and we are loved. We can be confident in the path which He has set out for us. We no longer have to live in constant fear of not being accepted, for we are saved just the way we are.

I know who I am now. I am loved, and I am perfect in Christ.