Fasting from Perfectionism (Day 7)
During the week of March 10, Facebook experienced an outage for up to 17 hours. One radio commentator described her sense of panic when she couldn’t log in to Facebook, saying that she had just “staged a great picture” and posted about herself. “I was really looking forward to all of those ‘likes’ and now it’s just out there and not getting any attention.”
Perfectionism has taken a new twist with the advent of social media which gives a person a platform to project an over-idealized version of themselves to all of their friends (and I use that term ‘friends’ lightly) . People used to sweep dirt under the rug when company was coming. Well, these days, you just have to keep the debris of your life out of the “staged” picture and you can make your life appear any way you wish.
This leads to a vicious cycle. People, like our commentator above, stage a beautiful picture of their lives and then feed off all the attention they receive, “looking forward to all of those ‘likes’.” This can be both addictive and isolating because they know that reality is a whole lot messier that the picture they are putting “out there.” This reinforces the idea that their real selves are not good enough.
Meanwhile, the “audience” also recognizes that their own reality is a whole lot messier than what they see on Facebook. And while they may know intellectually that others are only showing the glamor shots of life, the comparison game leads them to determine that they are flawed, thinking “Well, if so-and-so can pull off her lifestyle, there must be something wrong with me.”
For perfectionists, this is fuel for an already dangerous fire. Fearing that your life does not measure up to the lives of others, your expectations get more and more unrealistic, leading to increased frustration, shame and frenzied attempts at getting everything “right.”
C.S. Lewis says: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
One of greatest antidotes for perfectionism is service to others. When we step outside our self-obsessed list of wants and needs, and invest in the well-being of others, we are opening up our hearts for God’s grace to enter in, to soothe our frightened places and lighten our sense of burden.
I Peter 5:6-7
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.
Let us pray,
Lord God, you do care for us in so many ways. Empower us to stop thinking solely of ourselves, to focus instead on your call in our lives to be people of grace: grace to ourselves, grace toward others and grace toward our hurting world. We pray in the name of the one who humbled himself on the cross, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
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Tags: devotions, fasting, Lent, perfectionism