Overcoming Perfectionism

Overcoming Perfectionism

I talked with a fellow Catholic recently about the frequency that he cranks out blogs, videos, and heck, even books.  I conveyed to him that I struggle to put out content because it needs to be perfectly formatted in my head and in my fingers before it ever hits the page.  He has the opposite dilemma, he confessed—he writes without any consideration for grammar or perfect prose.  He desires to get the content out there now and maybe edit later.  Maybe.

How I envy him! 

As a recovering perfectionist who felt that he failed his family and ancestors if he brought home a ‘B’, I have had to learn the hard lesson that through mistakes and failings we become stronger and—paradoxically— become who God has called us to be.

Perfectionism is a subtle form of pride.  “I must be perfect” robs God of his perfection.  For we Christians, perfectionism is incompatible with a Perfect Creator.  On this side of the heavenly veil, we are all “works in progress.”  This should encourage and not shackle us, but we have to have enough humility to be content with imperfection, especially with in our crafts, athletic, and artistic endeavors. 

“Write drunk, edit sober,” a good friend and fellow author told me.  Now I am not endorsing intoxication or intemperance by any means, but I am giving out this advice to any fellow neurotic writers, artists, musicians, and creators who may be reading.  Get over your fear to put ink to paper and notes to the keys.  Your work will not be perfect—it can’t possibly be.

In wrestling with the concept of a book idea, I chatted with a mentor of mine in the theology field.  He immediately saw through the fear and bullshit excuses.   “Whether it’s five or 500 or 5,000 people who read your writings, you owe it to God to write.  You owe it to God to finish this project.”  He then proceeded to pray over me and I at once felt terrified and convicted to keep writing.

I read the likes of Wojtyla, Hahn, Sheen, Kreeft, Chesterton, Lewis, Tolkien, Weigel, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Hemingway, and even Stephen King.  Yes, Stephen King.  How am I supposed to write in the shadows of these figures?

Answer:  The point is not competition.  The point is participation.

We are not the Creator.  As Tolkien articulated, we’re all “sub-creators.” We’re all playing around in the same sandbox with the toys that have existed from before we arrived, but we’re all playing in different ways pertinent to our era.  Especially for those involved in evangelization, our works may be what sends others upwards to the likes of Weigel, Sheen, or even (gasp) reading Scripture voluntarily.  But maybe someone will never read Weigel or Sheen, and in that case we owe it to them to write something that will reach them.

“Everything has been said before!”  Perhaps the most liberating words I’ve ever heard came from a friend over a backyard fire.  [Finish thought here]

So our commitment to you all is to continue posting content and updating this website for the spreading of the Gospel, even when (and especially because) all our efforts are imperfect.  Thanks be to God that he continues to work with timid and foolhardy instruments alike.

He is God.  We are not.  Write, compose, create.  Be free.

Learning Accountability from Frodo and Sam

Learning Accountability from Frodo and Sam