But perfectionism has an ugly side. When I don't think I can be a huge success, win all the marbles, or be the best....I sometimes choose to simply do nothing at all. It's every perfectionist's dirty little secret. If we can't do it flawlessly and on a grand scale....we don't even attempt it.
The older I get, the more I'm learning that, although there is a time and place for doing monumental things, more often than not, something simple will suffice. In fact, doing something small is, at times, better than not doing anything at all.
I'm changing my mentality.
I'm trying hard not to overlook the benefits of doing small things.
When I felt overwhelmed with the thought of jogging 3 miles, I didn't quit. The old me never would have attempted it, but the new me knows that even though I won't win the race, it's doing something good for my body. I started small by jogging for 1 minute. And then the next day, I jogged for two minutes, and so on.
This idea of micro-change spread into my eating habits. When I knew I needed to eat healthier, I didn't throw out all of the junk food in my house and go on a strict lettuce diet. I just resolved to put some more vegetables on my plate at every meal. Slowly, I'm replacing junk food with healthier alternatives.
In my attempts to read through my Bible, the old me would have quit the first day that I got off track. But when I can't read my daily 4 chapters, I just try for one. And if I forget today, then I jump back on the wagon tomorrow. I won't let perfectionism defeat me anymore.
The same mentality is spilling over into some other areas in my life.
As a perfectionist, I would read about the millions of widows and orphans in Africa and think that unless I had the wealth of Bill Gates, I couldn't possibly make a dent in the problem. I'd look at the hoards of starving people and crumple with defeat, knowing that I can't save them all. I would start to feel that unless I sold everything I owned and moved to Africa to be on the front lines, my efforts were in vain.
I was overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of need.
But I've stopped the "all or nothing" attitude. It kept me on the side-lines and incapacitated me for far too long.
I believe that as Christians we should be willing to sell everything we own and move to Africa...if that' what God is calling us to do. But he might not be calling us to do that! I can't allow fear of failure or the need for perfection to paralyze me from doing something good for the Kingdom of God.
My new motto: Do something small, and watch it snowball!
God might not be calling us to save millions of people, but He may call us to adopt just one orphan. Even if he hasn't called us to adopt a child right now, he commands us in His Word to take care of widows and orphans. Our response to that command could look a hundred different ways. We could financially sponsor orphans who we may never meet this side of Heaven. We could also do something as small as writing letters of reference for friends who are going through the adoption process. We can support those families with prayer and meals and service while they make their difficult adoption journeys. It may seem like very little in the grand scheme of things, but everything helps. Every single life is important to Jesus!
Maybe we haven't ever brought a widow into our home, but we can certainly support organizations that give micro-business loans and training to help widows get back on their feet and support themselves.
We may not be called to be on the front lines of missionary work, but perhaps we can send supplies, and financial support to those who already have "boots on the ground" in places of need.
I'm convinced that these small and seemingly insignificant actions have the potential to snowball into something much greater. In fact, we may never know their true impact!
I'm not going to waste my time waiting around thinking of something HUGE I can do for God, and beating myself up for failing to do something massive and awe-inspiring. I just want to take every opportunity to do small things as often as possible, and then pray that God will multiply my efforts and grow fruit from the tiny seeds that have been sewn.
"Anyone can count the seeds in an apple, but only God can count the number of apples in a seed." -Robert Schuller