One thing I hear from many women is how they want to be perfect and then beat themselves up because they aren’t.  When they fail, they stop trying because they don’t want the pain of being seen as imperfect. They think if they cannot do something perfectly they shouldn’t even try.

The goal of being perfect will stop us dead in our tracks every time. The goal should be to live as God wants us to live. So if you want to be perfect, be a perfect failure. Confess your failure, hand it to God and then, continue on your journey learning all you can from your failures.

I’ve been down the road of perfectionism and it is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be. I finally realized I will never be perfect on my own. It’s just not possible. God is the only One who is perfect. As long as I am allowing Him to lead me I can be growing towards perfection, which will be fulfilled when I reach heaven. Until then, I will settle for being a perfect failure.

What God Wants

Navigating this life and especially the weight loss journey isn’t easy. I can’t count how many diets, diet programs, meals, pills and shakes were supposed to magically fix me. They never did so I felt like it was my fault and I was a complete failure. Weighing 430 pounds will definitely make you feel like a failure.

Still, there is a spectacular misbelief that God expects us to be perfect. All He asks is that I make it my goal to grow in my faith. However deep down I still want to be perfect and so I strive towards that goal. However, pushing hard and trying to be perfect always causes me to fail in some way.

Without God’s grace flowing through me, I am weak in our human strength. When I stop trying to get everything perfect and allow God to work through me, life begins to start working out. That’s because finally, I realize I need God.  “Then, I am strong, truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God’s strength,” (2 Cor. 12:10 AMP).

Misguided Perfectionism

A few years ago I was reeling from my latest blatant attempt to be perfect and beating myself up because of it. Many times I felt if I don’t do things perfectly they are not worth doing. This led me to procrastinate and not do anything.

I had dug around in that perfectionism pile many times and done a lot of forgiveness, renouncing lies and hearing God’s truths and yet I could still see perfectionism trying to reign in my life.

“God, why do I feel I need to be perfect?” I asked.

He answered me with a question. “When is the first time you felt you needed to get everything right?” My mind went back to first grade when Grandma promised to give me $1 for every E I got and an extra $5 if I got all E’s. In second grade I so wanted all E’s so I could buy my first two-wheel bike.

I worked hard all semester to get good grades. I was on pins and needles until we got our report cards on the last day of school. I was unsure of the grades but I was hoping the teacher would see how hard I worked and overlook a few less than stellar weekly spelling grades.

To my great surprise, she gave me all E’s! I was so excited. I had worked hard. I had won the money! I got the perfect score! My perfection was rewarded and reinforced.

The Root

This was the root of not accepting less than perfect for anything I did. I needed to be perfect in order to get the reward. I would accept nothing less.

To get rid of the root, I knew I had to forgive Grandma, even though it seemed ridiculous for me to forgive her for setting up the hard work ethic her rewards fostered in me. But I knew it was the only way for me to get a breakthrough.

I forgave her for expecting me to be perfect and then, rewarding my perfection. I renounced the lie that the Holy Spirit expects me to be perfect. Then, I asked Him, “What is Your truth?”

This time His answer surprised me. He didn’t tell me He loved me like I am, although I know He does. He didn’t say, I’ll always be with you, though I know He will. He said, “If you were perfect you wouldn’t need Me because you would be God.”

Do I Think I Am God?

I repeated that over and over to myself. I pondered it. I carried it around for weeks before I dealt with it. God was going deep into my mess of perfectionism. I know there have been times when I felt I knew better than God.

I thought if He would just do what I wanted Him to everything would be fine. I saw how my supposed prayer times had turned into me trying to tell God what to do and then getting upset when He didn’t do my bidding or “answer my prayers” as we Christians tend to call our bossiness.

Did I really think I was better than God? In His answer to me, God hit at the core of my issue. If I trust God and leave everything in His capable hands, I won’t try to run His show. I need to let Him lead me in all things. I need to submit to Him completely.

The Path to Perfect

Only God is perfect because only He is holy. Matthew 5:48 AMP tells us what kind of perfection God wants from us. He wants us to “be perfect, growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

Life on earth is all about growth. Learning from our failures is one of the best ways we grow. We fall down, but we get back up again. We figure out what caused the fall or the stumble and with God’s help, we develop a plan in order not to avoid that failure again.

In other words, we become better after each failure. We remember the fall and don’t want to repeat it. It’s when we learn from our failures instead of beating ourselves up about them that we are on the path to growing into spiritual maturity.

No Easy Fix

I know I have the capacity for failure every single day. Fear of imperfection kept me spinning in circles on my weight loss journey trying to find that magic plan that would make me immediately thin. Of course, there is no such plan. It is all smoke and mirrors and promises of quick, easy diet fixes.

There is no easy fix. Even surrendering to God is difficult when we first start. However, losing 250 pounds is the easiest hard thing I’ve ever done. When I surrendered sugar to God, it was a relief. Finally, I didn’t have to be perfect. I just had to rely on my perfect Heavenly Father.

For more on this topic, listen to Perfect Failures, episode 111 of Sweet Grace for Your Journey. Go here:

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach, podcaster and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds and kept it off since 2013.

Her books include: "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor"; "Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds"; "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy"; "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help": "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation"; and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, more information on both is available under the weight loss tab. Don't miss her weekly podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, where she shares tips from her personal journey of losing weight and discovering healthy living. Find that under the podcast tab and anywhere you find podcasts.