The Weight of Perfection

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.”


Hi, my name is Emily, and I am a struggling perfectionist.

Even as I write those words, I squirm a little because I am still very much battling my perfectionist tendencies. I’d like for my home to be spotless, my inbox to be sorted, and my children to be wonderfully behaved at all times, pretty please. Also, I would like to have abundant energy, flawless skin, and wear the jeans I wore in college. Thank you.

And yet, while I’m able to achieve some of those things some of the time (minus the jeans from college), I’m never able to achieve all of them at the same time. And even when I’m able to achieve one of them, I’ve sometimes realized that perfection wasn’t worth the cost.

In those moments I often ask myself, Can I choose good instead of perfect?

Good is a lived-in home. A space with storage and systems, baskets for blankets, boxes for toys, and a junk drawer for quickly cleaning off the kitchen counter. Our home isn’t perfect at all times, but it’s lived in. It’s full of love. It’s flexible and messy and real. And that is so much better than perfect.

I carried the weight of perfectionism for a long time. It is a heavy weight to carry and an unachievable, unmaintainable standard to aspire to. What weight are you carrying right now? What would your life look like if you laid that weight aside?

I once met with a therapist during a particularly busy season. I was managing a lot of things at work and at home, and I was struggling to stop “over-functioning” and burning myself out. My therapist and I talked about perfectionism and my tendency to go all-in, all the time—and how God’s grace saves us from having to reach for such a lofty goal. A few months into our work together, I remember telling her, “I love my kids. I love my job. I love my husband. I want to be good at all my jobs, but I am trying so hard not to be that stressed-out, frazzled, overwhelmed-all-the-time woman I once was.”

“You are healing,” she said to me. “Recite these words to yourself whenever you feel those feelings coming to the surface: I am healing.”

Whether you are healing from perfectionism, burnout, over-functioning, trauma, illness, or grief, place your hand on your heart whenever you need to. Remind yourself, “I am healing.”

Allow God’s grace to wash over you again and again throughout the day. Allow it to release you from the bonds of perfectionism and usher you into a new way forward.

Excerpted from Near in the Night by Emily Ley. Copyright ©2023 by Emily Ley. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson.