I’m a bit of a perfectionist. For a long time I “knew” I wasn’t a perfectionist. I couldn’t be. I’m messy. I don’t finish things. I thought it was impossible for me to be a perfectionist.
Then I read The Birth Order Book by Dr. Kevin Leman; he convinced me that I am a perfectionist. He calls it “frustrated perfectionism.” Those who identify with this description are so driven to be perfect that they give up because they know they’ll never measure up to the unrealistic standards they set for themselves or believe others have set for them. Yup–that’s me.
As I’ve matured I’ve loosened my grip on getting things exactly right all the time. Intellectually, I know it’s impossible. Practically, I hope that if I don’t live up to others’ expectations, I may not have to do that thing again–not always a bad thing.
When it comes to the big decisions of my life, I still want to get it right. As a Christian, I believe God has a plan for my life. I want to sink into that plan and live it out.
Often I’ve tried to convince God of the benefits of neon signs directing me to the right decision. Seriously—wouldn’t it be great if there were cosmic neon signs to tell you to buy this car, marry that person, or take this job? Life would be so much simpler. It might be crowded with neon signs, but that’s a completely different issue.
Post-evacuation I had four job choices. I wanted to get it right. I wanted to make sure I chose the best thing. It was paralyzing.
I would wake up and think, Option A is the best thing. By lunch, the obvious choice was Option D. At bedtime, I was sure Option C was what I needed to pursue. I cycled through each option at least once every two days.
In the midst of my indecision, I spent hours praying. I also sought advice from people I trust. My wise friend Judy said, “What if they’re all the best? What if there’s no bad choice?”
My initial reaction? “Not much help!” Eight years later, I think her idea was well thought out. Sometimes we have choices that are equally good. Sometimes we don’t.
Each path I could’ve walked was equally valid. They all fit within my giftings. All of them would have honored God. There wasn’t a bad choice. Was there a best choice? I’d like to think so, but I have a feeling if I had chosen any of the other options I’d be sure it was the best one.
When it came down to it, there were a number of factors that tipped the scales towards Colorado and my position as TCK Coordinator for WorldVenture. Some of them were strikes against places—students who’d captured my heart not being around for more than a few years; not working with true TCKs; uncertainty if the option would really materialize. In the end what got me here was realizing I prayed for this position for three years before it ever existed.
Did you get that? I’d prayed for this for 36 months . . . over 1000 days.
What a revelation! Three years of regular petition, and God answered. There was only one valid option after that. It took me a while, but I got it right.
As I face tough decisions now, I’m reminded to look at what I’ve been praying for, to reread my journals looking for a theme, to see if any of my options fit. My tough decisions are made with prayer, reflection, a bit of consultation, and trust. I trust God will show me if there is a best.
Do I always get it right? Probably not. I know I make mistakes from time to time. I try not to get overly stressed by it. I know the God who redeemed me can also redeem my choices.
And really . . . that’s getting it right.
photo courtesy of Lars Sundstrom.
(I’m participating in Faith Barista’s Faith Jam. Every week she’s asking other bloggers to “jam like musicians” on a faith related topic. Today’s post is my riff on “Making Tough Decisions.” If you’re interested in the notes others added to this Faith Jam, go check out her site and follow the links.)