The Space Between Perfection and Wholeness: Grace

You don't have to know me long to realize I'm a recovering perfectionist. Big time. We're talking parents-had-t0-make-me-stop-studying-in-high-school perfectionist. It's something I still struggle with often, particularly when under a lot of stress.

Over the past few years, I've started to realize that "perfectionism" is usually just a selfish attempt at control masking itself as some high moral ground. We say to ourselves, "I want to do this as well as possible because I'm being a good servant of Christ," but what we really mean is, "I want to do this as good as possible so I can be sure of the outcome." Two very different things. I've been realizing that perfectionism often belays trust in a holy God who will work through our mistakes for His glory. He doesn't need perfect people in order to use us well; in fact, the broken people are often the ones who can be used the most powerfully, because they allow God's great grace to be vastly manifest.

But what does that type of wholeness, that type of trust in God's grace, mean in the day-to-days of life?

At the ACFW Conference, I came to the realization that I was trying too hard. Trying to figure out who I was supposed to talk to when, trying to figure out how to describe my writing, trying to leave positive impressions on everyone. All of those things are good in and of themselves, and in my head, I thought I was surrendering them to God. But when I came to a point of sheer exhaustion and didn't even know which direction was up, I realized that praying, "Help me know what to say to this person in order to represent my book well," is a whole lot different from praying, "I have no idea where to go or what to say, but I trust You're the one who's brought me to this place in life. So please, somehow, help me walk in step with that great plan, a plan that's outside of myself yet also woven into my purpose."

I'm not advocating laziness by any means, but what I am saying is that if you are a perfectionist like me, give yourself a break. Don't worry about every little word of your manuscript having to line up with some greater plan God has for your book because He's not limited by words like we are. If you trust Him and commit your way to Him, He will make it all work out. That's the mystery of faith, and the beauty of grace.


  1. Ashley! I so needed to read this! I am stressing out here with all the "what if's" and going over what I have already sent...finding errors...I get obsessive with trying to figure out exactly what to say and how to say it, instead of just knowing that it really is in God's hands. Thanks! Angie

  2. Oh, Ashley!! This is so perfect, I'm not an author but I spend way to much time trying to perfect my life. Also, Angie you're so right as well. I wrote a blog a few weeks ago about constantly questioning life and God's plans for me. I have really tried to start praying for God's grace and peace of mind. I need to trust Him more than anything because He knows what's best for me. And I'm also trying so hard to give my life to Him completely. Ashley, you're very inspirational, thank you for sharing this blog with us!


  3. Thanks, you two!

    Brie, you're so sweet to say those things. I'm proud of you and the choices you're making with your life! :) You'll see awesome consequences for those decisions.

  4. Love this! Thanks for the reminder, Ashley.