When I was in kindergarten, the teacher told my parents in a parent-teacher conference that I needed to practice coloring inside the lines. My parents then bought me a coloring book so I could do my “homework.”
One night when Dad got home from work, I proudly showed him my masterpieces. He turned each page and praised me for doing so well. Then he arrived at a page that was all scribbled on. It wasn’t just a few scribbles; it was dark, heavy scribbles trying to cover as much of the page as possible.
“What is this?” Dad asked.
Without blinking, I proudly replied, “Oh, I started and then messed up.” In my eyes, the whole thing was ruined the moment I made the slightest mistake.
He was a bit stunned by the fervor with which I’d scribbled out my mistake. Both parents tried to explain to me that just because I’d gone outside the lines a little bit didn’t mean I needed to ruin the whole picture. Even now I remember looking at them like they were the crazy ones.
I remembered this story after breaking down crying in front of Master today. Sometimes the pressure I feel from Him pushing me to what I interpret as no less than perfection overwhelms me. In these moments, I feel like nothing I do is good enough and that I will never attain His standards.
When I broke down, He reminded me that I do measure up…and He is going to push me.
I recalled this story after He left, and what stood out was what my parents said about not needing to ruin the whole picture. When I interpret Master’s pushing as a demand for perfection I’m not achieving, I seem to scribble out the whole picture in dark and heavy lines.
As I wrote this story down, what stood out was how I felt when they told me I didn’t need to be so perfect. That five year old girl reacted with much more self confidence than I felt today with Master (or feel in my life at the moment). Maybe my parents had a point; but I also knew where the bar now was for coloring inside the lines, and I was going to attain it no matter what. I felt a motivation to meet and exceed the challenge and pride in my ability to do so.
Somewhere along the line my perfectionist tendencies got tangled up with the message that I am inadequate. I started striving to please and be perfect in order to prove I’m worthy. Yet, at one point – I did act from that place of inner knowing where striving for perfection isn’t a need to control or to fill a void but is a pathway to expressing the best in me.
I want Him to push me, and – deep down – I know I have it in me to rise to the bar He sets.