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When It Comes To Your Life, Please Aim For GOOD. Never PERFECT.
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When It Comes To Your Life, Please Aim For GOOD. Never PERFECT.

Back when I used to write devotionals three days a week (I did that for over 20 years, by the way), it was wild that, over time, far more than Christians were on the subscription list. Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, folks who were even agnostic and atheist were subscribed. There are various reasons why yet something that I have always said to people who have no interest in following the Bible is, even if it ultimately played out that everything in it was fictional, the Good Book still offers up some great “morals to the story” and food for thought that pretty much all walks of life can benefit from (which is why I enjoy reading books from other faiths myself).


I think that’s why it’s so easy for me to incorporate a lot of Scripture even in my “secular” writings — because again, even if the Bible isn’t your thing, there are still some takeaways that you can benefit from…so long as you remain open-minded and willing.

Take today’s message, for example. Whether you believe that the world started in the Garden of Eden with Adam and the Woman (Eve’s name prior to sin — Genesis 2:23 & 3:20) in it or not, there are all kinds of lessons in there; one, in particular, that I share with my clients (who also come from all walks of life) often. One that, almost every single one of them has found an immense sense of relief and freedom for themselves once they took it all in.

One that, if you’re someone who is a self-professed perfectionist or you simply know that you’ve got some pretty unrealistic expectations in a certain area (or some areas) of your life, hopefully, what I’m about to share can give you some peace of mind too.

Ready? Gather your imagination together and let’s stroll through a garden for a moment.

One of the Most Missed Points About the Garden of Eden. Hands Down

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People who know me know that there is no question that my favorite place in the Bible is the first two chapters of Genesis. The reason why is because that is the only place where perfection is recorded and so, to me, that is the blueprint for how those of us who follow the Bible are to live our lives. For the sake of your time and my space, I can’t get into all of the gems that are at the beginning of Genesis.

Today, if you have a Bible (you can also go toBible Gateway if you don’t), go to the first chapter and tell me what you see when you read about light in verse 4; when God separated the land from the water in verse 9; when seeds, herbs, and fruits manifested in verse 12; when the day and night were separated in verse 18; when sea creatures and birds were created in verse 21, and when other animals came forth in verse 25.

At the end of each verse, what adjective is used to define what God had done: GOOD, right? And then, once humans were made, at the end of all creation, verse 31 says that God saw things to be VERY GOOD.

Good. Theologians believe that the original language of Scripture is Hebrew andthe Hebrew word for good is “tov” which basically means “functional.” Functional means “capable of serving the purpose for which it was designed.” So, according to Scripture, only in Genesis 1-2 are we seeing the world in the way that it was created to function. This means that prior to sin, things were functional. Now, things are dysfunctional.

If that isn’t a sermon unto itself, what I really want you to zero in on is the fact that even in a state of perfection, the word “perfect” was never used — good was. My theory is that because God is all-knowing and he knew that the Woman and then Adam (yes, in that order) were going to show all the way out, he didn’t want to go with the word “perfect.” However, even after all of the tree drama and sin entered into the earth (Genesis 3), guess what things could still be? GOOD.

Perfect means things like “excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement,” “entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings,” “matching in every detail the definition of an ideal type of something,” “thorough or complete; absolute” and “pure” — a lofty standard indeed. Yet again, even in the state of things being perfect, Scripture says that God preferred to go with the word “good” to describe what he had done.

Is good a lot? It is. Yet is it less stressful than perfect? 1000 percent. So, tell me something: If in the state of (biblical) perfection, when things were as functional as can be, since even God himself didn’t state that things were perfect (again, because I think he knew that sin was coming!), why, when things can’t get more dysfunctional in society and culture, on a billion different levels, than they are right now, are you stressing yourself out to not be content, satisfied, at peace with reaching the goal of good?

Why isn’t GOOD…good enough?

Why Perfectionism Works Against Not for You

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Although it probably seems obvious that this would be an ideal read for people who are self-professed perfectionists, the reason why I think that everyone should at least skim it is that some folks are perfectionists-in-denial — and it’s mostly because they aren’t aware of whatsome of the traits are that come with actually being one. I’ll share seven:

  • Perfectionists have unrealistic standards and expectations
  • Perfectionists do a lot of things with fear (of failure) as their motivation
  • Perfectionists tend to be big-time procrastinators (due to the whole fear of failure thing)
  • Perfectionists are unteachable and quite defensive
  • Perfectionists are inflexible and have an all-or-nothing kind of attitude
  • Perfectionists are hella critical
  • Perfectionists oftentimes have low levels of self-esteem that they mask

Okay, so now that you’re taking all of this in, are there certain points that you’re able to personally resonate with? With your friendships, do you have unrealistic expectations? In your relationships, are you inflexible? At work, are you a procrastinator or perhaps super critical of other people? If you’re nodding your head “yes,” all the while saying to yourself, “I mean, what’s wrong with that?” — two points.

One, Ionce read an article that featured a study about how coworkers absolutely prefer to not work with perfectionists. The reason why is that many individuals find them to be draining, pressuring, and full of unrealistic expectations. Something that I also found to be interesting about the read is perfectionists tend to live in what is known as “the tyranny of should” which reminds me of something that a friend of mine often says: “’Should’ is how a person decides how they think things should be that usually based on their own ego; not everything should be a certain way just because you decide that it…well, should.”

Adding to that, the article goes on to share that perfectionism is tied to stress, mental health challenges, eating disorders, and plain ole’ burnout. Know what else? It’s due to perfectionism that many remain stagnant or quit things that they’ve started. What could possibly be good about that?

Second point: perfectionists have a tendency to not be able to take what they dish out. What I mean by that is, while they oftentimes extend very little mercy or grace to others when it comes to how they think that things should be or should go, whenever they mess up, here come all of the excuses and justifications. Why? Because they are so caught up in wanting things to look flawless (when it comes to themselves) they will dodge accountability and gaslight in order to keep the façade of their own perfection going. What is good about that?

Adding to all of this, another article that I read on perfectionism said that it can cause people to feel very self-defeated, simply due to the fact that their own high goals can be overwhelming and so, “By avoiding mistakes at any cost, a perfectionist can make it harder to reach their own lofty goals.” What in the entire world is good about that?

Gee, I don’t know about you but the more that I read about trying to be perfect, not only does the outcome not even come close to being perfect, there’s not much good that comes from it either.

So, now that you see all of this, does the title of this piece make more sense to you? Why strive for perfection when strive means things like “to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict” and to fight or struggle? Why not go a bit easier on and be realistic with yourself and aim for “good” instead — because to me, good is where it’s totally at.

Why Good, Not Perfect, Is Actually Best

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Since I write mostly in the relationship lane, let me start to bring all of this home with a relationship goals example. I’ve shared before that, personally, very few things irk me more than when someone says that they are “waiting on their fairy tale” (insert a million eye rolls here).

Fairy tales aren’t real. Fairy tales, by definition, are stories for children. Plus, those who are on some “I want the princess treatment” — princesses are the daughters of fathers; in a relationship, a queen is the wife of a man — a king and she has a lot more responsibilities than a princess does (another message for another time, chile — Proverbs 12:4). So, already, just putting that kind of energy and mindset out into the universe, you are being unrealistic. I’ll keep adding on to all of this, though.

Now say that in your fairy tale, you want a 2.0 version of a 6-6-6 guy (check out “Okay, So Here's What You Need To Know About the '6-6-6' Man”). He’s got to have six figures, be at least 6’ feet tall (only 15 percent of men in America are that, by the way) and his package must be no less than 6.” Plus, he should be the kind of man who causes mouths to drop whenever he enters the room and, somehow, he should be hella ambitious and yet can be available for your every beck and call (that’s not really how ambition works, but…). In your mind, it’s a standard — oh, but is it really? Looks to me more like you are one hell of a (relational) perfectionist.

First of all, don’t even get me started on how many people who barely have $300 in their savings account think they should be with a wealthy individual; what you desire, you should certainly try, hard, to be. My main point, though, is this: FOLKS WHO LIKE THE “GOOD” IN LIFE KNOW HOW TO BE SATISFIED WITH LESS THAN PERFECTION. Just peep the definitions of good:

Good: righteous; satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree; right, proper, fit; well-behaved; kind, beneficent, or friendly; in good standing; educated or refined; financially sound or safe; genuine not counterfeit; sound or valid; reliable, dependable, responsible; healthful; beneficial; comfortable; pleasant; free from distress or pain; attractive; competent; socially proper; remaining available to one (whew!); satisfactory for the purpose
Instead of being out here waiting for the perfect man — eh hem, when you yourself are not perfect — why not a good one? Does he have to be fine as hell or can he be “attractive”? Does he have to have millions (good luck) or can he be “financially sound”? Does he need to have a PhD or can he be “educated” (and there are a lot of ways to be that way)? After all, all of the words in quotes, they define what it means to be good and again, you’re not perfect…why not be intentional about being a good woman, so that you can connect with a good man?

Why isn’t that GOOD ENOUGH for you? Is your perfectionism tripping you up?

And listen, how truly awesome is it that the last two definitions that I listed for good are as, well, good as they are? If you have a man with an exclusive mindset (he is available to one) and you know what purpose a relationship is to serve in your life (do you?!) — a man who checks those boxes…shouldn’t you be completely satisfied with that? A kind, friendly, dependable, reliable man who you feel comfortable around who is righteous and genuine? That’s a GOOD man right there. Why pass him by because you’d prefer (even if it’s subconsciously) to stress yourself out with standards of perfection? Y’all, don’t tell me that I ain’t preachin’ here. LOL.

Oh — and best believe that all of what I said about relationships can apply to virtually any area of your life. I promise you that if you are someone who is caught up in the unrealistic world of perfectionism, once you choose (because it is always a choice) to be satisfied and content in life, you start to desire what is far more attainable: GOOD — and when you get to that place, more times than not, you realize that good wasn’t merely “good enough;” it actually is what was the absolute BEST for you.

It is author and speaker Brené Brown who once said, “Healthy striving is self-focused: ‘How can I improve?’ Perfectionism is other-focused: ‘What will they think?’” She’s right and I can promise you that, the more content you become with yourself, the less you will care about perfectionism (including what others think) anyway.

After all of this, do you get how ridiculously counterproductive that way of life is…how, at the end of the day, it is never truly meant for your — well, GOOD.

Be good to yourself. Go for what is GOOD. It’s the best thing going. Guaranteed.

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Featured image by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

 

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