Parting ways with Perfectionism


“Oh, you’re one of those,” he said as he walked into the kitchen at work.

I was re-loading the dishwasher. Some of my work colleagues seem to crack open the dishwasher just far enough to slide a dish or a coffee mug into the nearest vacant space. Others just leave their dirty cups and cutlery in the sink. 

I’m not the kitchen police, but if I’m in the kitchen and there are dirty dishes in the sink I load them in the dishwasher. In the process I end up reorganising the dishes so that everything fits better, and gets washed properly. At least that’s what I tell myself when I’m lining up all the mugs on one side and the glasses on the other, and straightening the plates that have been dumped at an angle in the rack.

My colleague caught me re-organising. He is not one of “those.” In fact he cares so little about where items go in a dishwasher that his wife has banned him from loading anything into the dishwasher at home. 

I didn’t want to be labelled as “one of those”, but then I had to acknowledge to myself that I do struggle with being a perfectionist. 

You wouldn’t know it from the state of my house or my email Inbox, but being a perfectionist is not about always achieving perfection. It’s about wanting everything to be perfect, and being uncomfortable, uptight, disappointed or upset when things are not perfect, even when reality tells me it’s not possible or even important.

It also means I’m constantly afraid of trying anything that I can’t be confident that I’ll at least do well, even if I can’t do it perfectly. And that rules out trying a lot of new things. It’s no wonder that I have a spectacular capacity for procrastination. I’ve spent most of my life trying to avoid the risk of failure. 

I set the benchmark ridiculously high for just about anything I do, and if perfection is the standard I set for myself, then it becomes the standard I set for everyone else. And that makes me critical and judgmental – critical of myself and critical of others.

I’m trying to control my life so that I get the right outcomes. If I don’t get things perfectly right I’m afraid that I won’t be liked, approved or loved. And then where will I be?

But I tell myself that’s not really true. I think I need to be perfect, but then I don’t connect with other people when they seem to have it all perfectly together. They’re intimidating. 

I connect with people when they are open and honest about their struggles and their mess. Not in a “woe is me, I can never get it right” kind of way, but in an authentic “this is me and this is where I am on the journey” kind of way. 

Perfectionism is like a noose around my neck, like control underwear, like a boa constrictor; it’s squeezing the life out of me.

I want to be free to try new things, to make mistakes and learn from them. I want to be someone who gives and receives grace. I want to become the person I was made to be.

I want to part ways with perfectionism.

I don’t know exactly what that will look like yet, but I want to find out.

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31 Days: Listening for the Invitation

This morning I woke up with the melody of Oceans by Hillsong United running on a loop in my head. I’ve only heard it a couple of times, but somehow it had hooked its way into my memory.

Later it was back, looping around and around. Take me deeper …

Time to pay attention.

As I listened to it again, I heard the invitation – to go deeper with the Lord, to follow the Holy Spirit, to step out in faith, even when we make mistakes, even when we’re afraid. An invitation to trust Him, to rest in Him, even when the waves of life threaten to submerge you. Because there will be days like that.

It’s an invitation to know Him more, and to know that we belong to Him.

Whatever is happening, He will find a way to speak life, to extend invitations. Are you listening?

Are you listening for the invitations? What is God inviting you into right now?

31 Days to Listen

This is Day 12 of the series 31 Days to Listen.

31 Days: The Why of Listening

Fronds Unfurling

This is Day 2 of 31 Days to Listen, and already I need to remind myself of why I’m doing this. Already I am guilty of bringing my ‘to do’ list to God.

I’m listening Lord. I have a post to write, please tell me what to say.

How did I let that happen? How did I reduce this precious gift, this invitation into his heart, to “please fill my order and I’ll be on my way”? What makes me think that I would truly be satisfied with what he gives from his hand, when I’m being offered what he holds in his heart?

Forgive me Lord, and draw me back to you. It’s you I seek, your face. Whatever that looks like in my life, I want you, your presence. I want that peace, that knowing in the stillness of my heart. I belong to you.

Whatever else I do in my life needs to flow from knowing you, walking with you.

That’s why I want to listen.

31 Days to Listen

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How to be blessed by missing the bus


Missed it by that much.

My bus home came and left without me. I hate that. I’d rather miss it by a lot, than see it but not be able to get to it in time.

I had a tight schedule but I heard a whisper in my spirit, “Don’t stress about it Ann, there’s time.” So I settled myself to wait the 15 minutes for the next one.

“Excuse me, but is this E1?”

“Yes” I replied, pointing to the large sign in front of us.

He was a polite young man with a broad smile and a thick accent, armed with a timetable and metro card, but not much idea how to use them.

It was swiftly apparent that this was his first time using our bus system. So we checked his timetable and I explained what he needed to do once he got on the bus.

There was enough time for what he needed, and then my bus arrived.

“God bless you,” he said. And as I climbed on the bus, I knew He had.