The Wrong Focus

— Dana

Once I became a Christian, the idea of successfully achieving perfection started to dissolve in my heart. With Scripture verses like Romans 3:10 (“No one is acceptable to God!”), I couldn’t deny the fact that perfection was beyond my reach. However, instead of “putting off” the idea of perfectionism and “putting on” the righteousness of Christ…I found deliverance in focusing on my flaws instead. With the same energy I used to achieve perfection, I redirected everything I had to prove how unworthy and unrighteous I was.

For years, I wallowed in the guilt and shame of my own sin and attempted righteousness. This humble approach seemed more pleasing to God in contrast to the pride of my perfectionism. So, I camped on this idea for over a decade, and found Scripture verses to support my case (“All our righteousness is like filthy rags…” Isaiah 64:4-9)

I was also motivated to focus on my flaws because it always made other people feel better. I eventually came to the point in my life when I would only share my struggles…and totally neglect to the truth that God was blessing me in many ways. Whenever I would share an amazing blessing, I could see the weight of gravity pull on my friend’s face. As their joys turned to sorrows, I realized that their blessings didn’t compare to mine (at least in their own eyes). So, I doubled my efforts to mine out character flaws like they were precious stones. However, I can see with more clarity that sharing my struggles all the time (instead of focusing on my blessings) led to a lifestyle of depression and despair.

So, sometime last year, I was ready to get rid of my constant feelings of sadness. Where was my joy? Unfortunately, like an alcoholic that’s been sober for years, I turned to my former ways of perfection without much thought when the temptation presented itself. From what I could recall before I gave my heart to Jesus, perfectionism made me feel happy and filled my life with joy. A happiness that was based on a lie and not on the truth of The Gospel.

So here I am. Tired of myself. Feeling like I have to start all over again. Sad that I traded my holiness for happiness. I’ve had the wrong focus for far too long.

I am finding it to be an extremely humbling process to realize that what I thought was right had been wrong. When the Holy Spirit recently revealed the current strongholds of perfectionism in my life, I sought after my notes and curriculum from the Biblical Counseling training that Aaron and I went through this last fall. It talked about preaching The Gospel to people and making sure they have a solid foundation to work with before proceeding with any specific issue.

So, that is what I’ve been doing the last few weeks…preaching The Gospel to myself and letting the Holy Spirit correct my wrong focus. Maybe I will have the courage to sign-up for Biblical Counseling this week. Maybe.