I often say I am a recovering control freak and a recovering perfectionist. I use the word “recovering” because I have not arrived at “recovered”. Talking with a friend about some of their current struggles, I was able to relate to many of them and realized how those same things used to be a constant struggle for me. I was so encouraged to realize those same struggles are no longer my normal state. As I reflected on how much I’ve changed over the years, I realized how much more I like this version of myself. What has made the biggest difference? Removing fear.
When we remove fear from the need to control or the need to do things perfectly, we are left with a redeemed version of what may have felt like a curse, but can actually be a gift. When fear is removed, we are left with attention to detail, a desire to see things done well, a care about how circumstances impact myself and others, the ability to pull things together and organize well, an appreciation for order, and the ability to do things with excellence. And most importantly, we have peace rather than a sense of drivenness.
Removing fear is not simple or fast; it is a lifelong pursuit, but the results are worth it! Not only do we benefit but our marriage, family, friends and community do as well. We have the opportunity to set an example in being fearless, not because the world is free from pain and sorrow, but because God is with us in all things and will not abandon us no matter how hard our circumstances.
So where do we start? Deciding that we want to remove fear from our decisions and our motivations is the first step. Then comes the harder part: facing the big feelings that come with letting go of making decisions out of fear. We then have to face the fear of disappointing others, the fear of failure, the fear of being misunderstood, the fear of being out of control, the fear that people won’t like me if I do/don’t ____, the fear of being judged, and the fear my marriage will fail or my children will grow up to be terrible human beings.
Yikes! Maybe after reading that list it feels too daunting. You have already changed your mind and decided it’s too hard.
Well, you would be right – it is a God-sized problem. God is the only one who can meet us in these fears and help us discover who He designed us to be in the midst of circumstances that stir up our fears. As we learn to listen to Him in our daily lives and decisions, He meets us in our fear with His peace – a peace big enough to calm our fears.
While it has to be God working in us, there are things we can do to help prepare ourselves for what He wants to do in our lives. Building our capacity through learning relational skills (especially the Foundational Five) helps us as we sit in these places of discomfort and fear while seeking Him.
For me, the transformation has happened in two ways: building up my capacity to face the hard, uncomfortable things and interacting with God in the good as well as the hard times (especially through Immanuel Journaling.) I feel lighter and more free from the heavy fears and driving perfectionism that used to consume me. I hope you join me on this challenging, but highly rewarding journey!
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