As I expected: ‘Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way.’ ~Mary Poppins
(from the movie “Mary Poppins,” Walt Disney Studios, 1964)
As a child, Mary Poppins was one of my favorite movies. I remember my parents taking me to see it at the Cooper Theater on South Colorado Blvd., in Denver, when the movie came out in 1964. The theater had 814 seats and a 146-degree panoramic screen known as Cinerama, measuring a massive 105 feet by 35 feet.
When the movie’s introductory music began and the curtain parted (yes, this theater actually had a curtain in front of the screen), a sensation of excitement passed over me equaled only to the anticipation I used to have on Christmas morning. I squirmed waiting for the story to build, then squealed in delight (along with hundreds of other children) as I watched Mary Poppins float down from the sky in her wonderful, perfect glory.
When the show was over, I left the theater determined to be like Mary Poppins: practically perfect in every way.
As time went on I grew up. Mary Poppins became Julie Andrews, and practically perfect in every way was a balloon that exploded in my face. It didn’t take long for me to realize life wasn’t perfect. Thus, I laid aside perfectionism for practicality.
Or so I thought.
Enter the me of today. Here I am at 3:00 a.m. working on the HIS Writers newsletter, proofing it over and over to make sure it’s “perfect.” Sleep, what’s that? As long as whatever I’m working on is not done to the standards I’ve set for myself, the standards of “perfectionism,” I will work on them again and again and again until those standards are met.
So what’s wrong with perfectionism? Isn’t it a quality we should strive for? Especially as writers, we want our work to be the best it can be. We dot our i‘s, cross our t‘s, draft and redraft, then double check every rule we’ve learned from every seminar we’ve attended to make sure our work is as perfect as possible. But what happens when it’s not? If you’re a perfectionist like me, you pull yourself back together and do what you can do to make it as perfect as possible. Or you quit.
Sometimes I shake my head in wonder at God’s sense of humor. Why in the world would He even consider asking a perfectionist to become a writer? But the Bible says in our weakness Christ is made strong. How well I know this verse! It is etched into my mind like writing on a stone tablet. But knowing and KNOWING are two different things. Yes, I know I’m not perfect nor ever will be. And yes, I know there is only ONE who is perfect, and He is my LORD. Yet I so easily fall into the enemy’s trap and listen to his lies that perfectionism, not failure, is what really makes God happy. And so, like a hamster knowing nothing different, I climb back onto my wheel and run till I’m exhausted.
If not perfectionism, what do you struggle with? What lies do you allow the enemy to whisper in your ear? What untruths of his, stop or slow you down from becoming the man or woman of God you’ve been called to be?
Praise be to God, our heavenly Father, who stands in the gap for us and gives us grace! Who brings us out of the wilderness of our own failings and into a land flowing with milk and honey. Who places a robe on our back and puts His ring on our finger, calling us into an inheritance greater than we will (or can) ever know or understand.
My prayer for you is that God brings you out of whatever wilderness you are in. That He refreshes you with the water of His Holy Spirit and gives you strength to move forward. That He lifts you up on the wings of eagles and, once again, gives you faith, hope, and vision. For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6 NASB)