To be honest, this is probably one of the hardest things I have ever written about. God placed this idea on my heart for a while now, and I’ve avoided it like crazy. But here I am. I’ll let you decide who won that argument.
You ever meet those people who walk around classrooms fixing every table so that they’re all lined up perfectly to one another? Or the kind who go around working every little detail that doesn’t make sense to them? Or better yet, the ones who come across as super controlling and an idea generally never works for them unless it’s theirs?
Yes. I am all the above. Every single one.
I absolutely love to plan things and I love when things turn out PERFECT to the T…at least my version of perfect anyway.
I think that in many ways our culture glorifies this. The idea that we need to know what we’re doing and that we need to constantly be pushing ourselves to not just win some sort of (success) race, but to win that race by ten miles. Coming in first is no longer enough. In order to be happy, life needs to be perfect, Right?
I mean, how many times have we watched movies in which the woman is looking for the “perfect” man or someone is looking for the “perfect” job? How often has that happy ending been the “perfect” ending–where everything goes back to the way it’s supposed to be?
But here’s the real truth:
My obsession with perfectionism drove me into an addiction to pornography.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid, I never thought that I would ever struggle with porn. And I was a woman, so the odds of me ever dealing with something like this were super slim…right?
That was probably the first mistake I made: When we underestimate the power of temptation, we fall right into it.
How does perfectionism play into this?
You see, when you constantly live with the idea that life needs to be perfect in order for you to attain true joy, you get muddled up into a whole lot of bad habits because you’re chasing after something that really isn’t there.
For example, I procrastinate like crazy, because I am terrified of not doing perfect on tasks I’m given. So I would rather rush last minute so that I can say that I didn’t put in as much of an effort if I don’t get an A.
There were also times where I completely stopped making an effort in my relationship with Jesus because I felt like I was far from perfect, and this meant that my relationship with Him was also not perfect. So I felt like there was no point – if something is not going to be perfect, then why try at all? Yes?
Similarly, when it came to my search for romantic relationships, I became obsessed with finding the perfect guy for my perfect ending and as much as I know now how incredibly far-fetched that idea is. It is the very thing that led me to playing with fire.
It would start out with small flings with boys and then when my little heart was broken, I would rebound and it became this vicious cycle of trying to find the perfect love story for myself. Soon I found myself in chatrooms–they all started out as fun things. “I’m just trolling people on the internet,” I would tell my friends. But one thing always leads to another and before I knew it, I was fighting an enormously dark battle.
To put it simply, I had become Edmund from the Chronicles of Narnia–not the part where he’s sitting in the White Witch’s snow chariot, eating Turkish delight (although that’s exactly how it started), but the part where he begins to regret ever going back to her now that he’s been locked up for being “useless.”
It became easy to watch porn or mess around in chatrooms because those were situations that I was able to make up–I was able to create my own “perfect” scenarios. Shockingly enough (heavy sarcasm intended) I was still not happy.
I remember times where I would cry out and pray that God would somehow give me a man to help me work through my problems. But that was such a wrong kind of prayer to pray. I was selfish.
I still wanted things to be ‘perfect’ but by my own standards.
That being said, it was probably the hardest addiction that I have ever dealt with because of how lonely it makes you feel. There is not much that is ever said about women who struggle with pornography and so I didn’t have many places to turn to. Fortunately for me, the people who I did turn to, helped me immensely.
Surprisingly enough, recent studies have begun to show that pornography is become more and more common among women. You can find more information about that here or here. And those are only the tip of the iceberg. Pornography among women is growing steadily.
It wasn’t until I realized that God’s love for me was so vastly PERFECT…like the real kind of perfect, despite being so incredibly illogical (I in no way deserve the grace He gives me, and He still chooses to give me not just grace, but grace in abundance), that I was able to really work on my addiction.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).”
“ I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20).”
I began to pray differently– “Your will, not mine” – I’ve realized that when we align our prayers to truly ask God for His will to be done, we tend to really recognize how much grace we require and how much more there is to life than our own earthly satisfactions. I have stopped intensely pursuing the “perfect life” according to my standards, but I’ve begun to try pursuing the perfect life according to Christ’s standards and it’s a much harder ride to make, but a much more satisfying one to be on.
“Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10).”
“Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established (Proverbs 16:3).”
My friends, I urge you, if you’re struggling, please, reach out to someone. Be careful not to let your need for perfectionism destroy who you were really created to be – a child of a King.
“What a sweet, sweet assurance it is, to know that I can stand in front of my maker, unashamed, because of what Christ did for me on that cross.” -S.L.A
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