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Perfectionism – The Insidious Dance of Death by Jim Banks

Following a Healing Rooms presentation in Boone, NC a few years ago, a young woman came to me expressing her personal frustration with the seeming inability to prioritize her life.  She wanted deeply to be in some form of the ministry that I was teaching on but felt that her personal intimacy with the Lord was not at an acceptable level. She was also afraid she would get too involved and her young children would suffer. She just wasn’t sure she could balance it all. She seemed to be very unsettled by the prospect of the opportunity that was before her. This was in direct contrast to her age (late-twenties), countenance, natural beauty, and presumed financial status as indicated by the size of the rock on her left hand and the accompanying Rolex.

I asked her if she was a first-born, to which she replied ‘yes,’ and I then reeled off a list of first-born traits, her eyes widening significantly.  Then I told her that in all likelihood her relationship with her father was poor to non-existent; she lived in constant frustration bordering on anger (at which point she began to shake visibly); she had never liked the person she saw in the mirror every morning; and to cap it all off I said, “I’ll bet you’ve never been able to receive a compliment either and your marriage is getting difficult.”  She began to cry. Then I delivered the final blow. “Your marriage is in serious difficulty because your husband has been pounding continuously at your heart’s door, and you don’t know how to let him in. He’s really frustrated and you’re afraid that he’s about to give up.”  At that point she fell into my arms sobbing uncontrollably. The Holy Spirit had hit the nail squarely on the head, with considerable force, several times in a row.

What I just described are a few of the classic symptoms of an individual who has adopted perfectionism as a means to get their emotional needs met; working for love and a sense of personal value. For many this has become a lifestyle and all manner of health issues have begun to crop up as a physical expression of the emotional misery.

The ability to maximize your creativity and excel at your craft is also at stake if you are mired in perfectionism because perfection is about being perfect rather than creative. I remember the frequent struggle while working as an electrical design engineer in Houston,TX.  At the conclusion of every project I was confronted with trying to answer the question posed by each drawing; when is it done?  For a couple of years they literally had to rip the drawings from my hands because I was never satisfied with them. I had to add one more touch to a detail, or one more note to a specification so the contractor would be absolutely clear on how to build what I had designed. The stress at the tail end of every project took all the joy out of the design process.

This is part of the dilemma. We may well be able to carve out dedicated time each week for the creative enterprises and feel that is separate from the everyday mundane activity that makes life work. But the reality is that we take us, our beliefs and attitudes, into everything we engage in. Perfectionism follows you everywhere, even into the bedroom.

The Lord desires excellence; its counterfeit is perfectionism. The product of each would seem to be the same. However one compels you to do your creative best while the other drives you. Perfectionism is death; excellence is life and life giving. Need help sorting it out?  We can help at House of Healing or join one of “Unlocking the Heart of the Artist” groups facilitated by The Worship Studio. Either way, do yourself the favor of a lifetime.

Jim Banks, House of Healing Ministries
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Jim and Pat Banks lead House of Healing Ministries, an international ministry focused on equipping churches, ministries, and individuals to minister healing to the spirit, soul, and body. Pat has a passion for teaching creative people how to operate out of their spirit and commune with the Holy Spirit in their creative process.
Jim is the author of The Effects of Trauma and How to Deal with It and the developer of a prayer tool called the Trauma Prayer, which has been ministered to hundreds of people with astounding results to virtually eliminate symptoms of trauma, with many experiencing instantaneous and permanent relief.