Insanity of the Perfectionism Demon

Anne Lamott wrote in her classic book Bird by Bird:

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life.”

Perfectionism is a demon of the worst kind. Not only for the  writer, but for any human, anyone trying to be a decent friend, partner, spouse, brother, sister, artist, or business owner. 

Every day is an opportunity to make, create, invest, and build something for the benefit of others. But every day the perfectionism demon unlocks the back gate and rips into our lives with his talons in full view. 

Perfectionism is the enemy of done, completion, and finishing what we start. When the enemy of perfectionist lies speaks, we freeze, and like Lamott suggests: we go insane. 

The perfectionism demon affects all. Keeps the artist from creating, dad’s from parenting, and pastors from preaching. Mom’s from being okay, with being okay. Perfectionism puts relationships in a sphere where angels fear to tread and make them impossible to enjoy.

Perfectionism keeps us from living inside the walls of grace, where failure is expected, and forgiveness is available. The demon of perfect is what Satan uses to suffocate any attempts at holy living, taking risks, and starting something, that needs starting. 

The perfectionism oppressor is crafty. Many people assume that perfectionism is not their problem and vice. But in reality, the reason we don’t start stuff, finish stuff, struggle to have healthy relationships, and talk a good game about all the things we want to do, but never do… is because of perfectionism. 

We are more cramped and insane than we’d like to admit. 

But the answer and remedy for destroying and laying to rest the Enemy, is not mere will power, and brute strength. The answer found in knowing the whole universe runs on grace, we run on grace.

We aren’t everything we should be. The world is not everything it should be, and walks with a limp. There are no perfect conditions, perfect timing, perfect people, and ideal situations. 

Everything and everyone is a mess. 

When we know our situation the power of grace has room to run.  When perfectionism identified as the enemy of the people, we can turn away, and just put one foot in front of the other, knowing it will be messy, but worth the time and effort. 

Perfectionism always submits to grace, and grace keeps us sane.