THIS SERIES: DREAMING OF THE PERFECT CHRISTMAS?
I am a recovering perfectionist. Perfectionism usually has a root which needs healing, and deeply ingrained habits which need to be retrained. Christmas with its commercially–driven, flawless images provides a real temptation to resurrect those ungodly tendencies.
From craft projects to festive settings, family tableaux to culinary marvels, we are bombarded at every turn with perfectly positioned, air-brushed visuals in glorious technicolour; and we’re led to believe that this is normal; we too can be that family, have this house or that romance, if only we try harder (or purchase the necessary perfume!) Then so many of us run ourselves ragged trying to reproduce those wonderful scenes in our own environment, and feel frustrated, disappointed and guilty when things don’t play out the way they should. And we compare ourselves with work colleagues, friends and family members who appear to achieve the holy grail—a perfect Christmas.
Perfectionism is all about the end-product. The journey is unimportant, result is all. Most of the time it is rooted in a need to perform, either to satisfy oneself or others; maybe to ward off disapproval, gain praise or recognition, measure up to someone else or prove ones own worth. Perfectionists are usually driven people; and drivenness tends to affect the climate of the household or workplace negatively. The end-results may be amazing, but the road is littered with casualties, those who have been made to feel inadequate, those whose best efforts have been rejected, and those whose peace has been invaded by an anxious, restless, demanding climate. Even when it comes from a genuine desire to bless others with the best, perfectionism can be a double-edged sword. How easy it is for a perfectionist to drive himself to provide the perfect setting and meal for hospitality, for example, and then be too exhausted to enjoy it; or be upset because his efforts haven’t been appreciated.
WHAT'S YOUR FOCUS?
There is a difference between perfectionism and doing things with a spirit of excellence. The difference is one of focus. Perfectionism tends to focus on me. Working with a spirit of excellence focuses on the Lord. It’s about doing everything wholeheartedly for Him, and it’s about the journey as well as the end-result. If we employ our skills and abilities with His help, often the end result will be beautiful… but not always.
Things go wrong.
Maybe flu strikes on Christmas morning, the turkey hasn’t thawed in time, or the dog has eaten the Christmas cake (this is the voice of experience!); or maybe it’s the teething baby, recalcitrant teenager or family feud that threatens our festive pleasure. What matters is not perfection, but the Holy Spirit’s anointing. If the house is alive with His presence, the setting becomes secondary; if food is shared with love, then an imperfect Christmas meal is of no consequence. After all, the Lord of All was born in stable, and hallowed the everyday-fayre of bread and wine.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship.
Let’s make our focus this Christmas not on achieving perfection, but on doing everything with a heart of joy and love. If we present ourselves and all we do as an offering of worship, and leave the end result up to God, we become that living sacrifice.
And fire always falls on sacrifice!
NEXT WEEK: LOOK FOR GIFTS OF JOY
It’s so easy to get so focused on ticking things off our to-do-list that we don’t actually take time to enjoy any of it...
OVER TO YOU...
[Photo credits: Chuttersnap (reindeer); Ben White (gift); John Schnobrich (laptop); @ Unsplash, with thanks]
Da Kraplak (type writer);
Merakist (social media)
@ Unsplash, with thanks]
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