Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Disposition of Perfectionism

It is early Sunday morning. My husband gets to church at 7 on Sundays to make sure everything is prepped before praise team practice at 8. Sometimes I take my own car so that I can rest a little more and not be a distraction to him as he works. This morning, I decided to come along with him. I am currently in the middle of Beth Moore's Esther Bible study, so I got comfy on the couch in his office and dived back into the dramatic narrative that is the story of Esther. I'm in the middle of chapter 5. At the end of chapter 4, Esther has begged Mordecai and the Jews to fast for three days and pray as she prepared to risk her life to go before the king. One of the things I had never really noticed before until this study is that Esther tells Mordecai that she has not been summoned by the king (her husband) in 30 days. Her life is at stake because it was against the law to walk into the king's presence without being summoned. But, I believe Esther was afraid her life was at stake for a 2nd reason: because she had not been called in a month. I believe she feared that she no longer pleased her husband enough for him to feel her life worth sparing. How scary!

Chapter 5 begins with Esther going to see the king and requesting a banquet. After extending his sceptor to her, the kings asked Esther in verse 3, "What is it, Queen Esther?" Beth mentions in this lesson that the Hebrew translation for "what is it?" is akin to "what troubles you?" It was apparent to the king that something was wrong. Despite Esther's bravery and determination in fulfilling God's will for her, she was still human and extremely scared and nervous. "What if I mess up? What if he doesn't love me enough anymore to save my life? What if I am unable to save my people?" I believe all of these questions plus many more were going through Esther's mind. And, that's where my mind starting whirling today...because Beth used this dramatic moment in Esther's story to talk about perfectionism. Here's a quote from her study:

"Beloved, do we believe that the only way to do something acceptably is to do it perfectly? Sometimes God is more aware than we of just how much He requires of us. He knows how hard it's going to be for us...Do you happen to struggle with perfectionism and perhaps could use a little ministry? Do you feel if you can't do something to perfection, you ought not bother? Do you frequently feel pressure to perform tasks that will result in applause? When you blow it, do you wait a long time before trying again? Do you feel the need to always make an 'A'?...Perfectionism is a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as being unacceptable...I'm not suggesting we shouldn't do our best. I'm simply saying that sometimes just surviving certain tasks without fallling apart is our best and in those times God is not ashamed of our performance. He's proud of us for fighting overwhelming human emotions to do His will. God isn't interested in our stellar performances but in our hearts. He loves our willingness and obedience despite our insecurities."

I don't even have a good comment on this yet. I'm going to have to spend a lot of time thinking and praying through this idea and concept over the next many days. I have been convicted and in some sense am experiencing some type of spiritual relief, but that relief is currently at war with my nature of perfectionism. So, I need time. I need to pray and meditate on this concept and on the story of Esther. In the meantime, I cannot wait to continue on this journey with this Queen who may not have been perfect, but was bold in the Lord.