Trying-To-Be-Perfect Fear

Let’s start with some honesty: my biggest fear is failing. Being imperfect. Messing up.

This fear is what keeps me glued to the wall during social situations. It’s what keeps me from taking initiative. It’s what keeps me from taking needed risks. It’s what keeps me from pursuing my dreams. It’s what keeps me from being honest with people. It’s what makes me afraid of putting words to the page or pushing the “publish” button on a blog post.

But worse than that, this fear makes me an ineffective servant of God.

When fear of imperfection controls me:

I forget the gospel. The gospel is “good news”. It’s the news that Jesus Christ, the spotless Son of God, came to earth as a baby, lived a perfect life, voluntarily died to satisfy the wrath of God against the sins of mankind, and came to life again to conquer death and give us His perfect record before God. This is the news that gives me my identity of being “in Christ”. Because of the truth of the gospel, I can have peace in the fact that my standing before God and others is dependent on Jesus, not me. It’s His perfection, not my performance. Fear, on the other hand, makes me think I’m all alone and that everything rests on me.

I believe lies instead of the truth. In moments of fear, my view of God is way too small. I’m afraid to trust my screw-ups or pressure situations to Him, so I try to deal with them my way. I turn to pleasure because I “need” to feel better. I give in to bitterness because I believe God shouldn’t allow the situation. I turn to self-destructive emotions because I see no purpose in what I’m going through. I give in to depression because I think there is no loving Person and hope past my circumstances. All of those thoughts are lies – lies that feed off my fears, which God does not give me (2 Timothy 1:7). When I allow fear to control me, I’m allowing Satan’s lies to shout louder than God’s person, presence, and promises.

I value my reputation over the glory of God. My fear of failing tells me that God couldn’t possibly work through my mistakes. I don’t believe that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I don’t think that God is sovereign enough. If others’ view of me gets put on the line, I think that nothing good could happen. I find my value and identity in my view of success. I don’t even consider that His glory can be shown in power through my weakness. So . . . I put up a front. I wear a mask. Bottom line: when I’m too afraid to take risks and be real in following Christ, I do not worship Him, I worship my own self-preservation.

I don’t use God’s gifts to their full potential. Fear tells me that what I have isn’t good enough. I acknowledge that God has given me time, talents, and resources, but I doubt their effectiveness. I doubt that God has given me enough to make a difference. Because of this, I stay within my comfort zone and tell myself it’s better. I sit locked in my insecurities instead of running forward with joy. My abilities become a source of discouragement instead of a springboard for God’s power to work. God calls me to excellence, but fear makes me a prisoner to mediocrity.

I miss opportunities to make an impact for the Kingdom. There have been many times that God has prompted me to strike up a conversation with someone, and I have resisted because I was too afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing something awkward. There are God-given dreams I have let fall by the wayside because I was too afraid to step out and pursue them. Each time I ignore the Spirit’s prompting to hide in my fears, I become less useful. This is not to say that God will not achieve His purposes anyway. He knows the decisions I will make, and it does not derail His plans. However, fear does make me miss out on His rewards and the joy of personally seeing Him work in another person’s life.

Looking at this list can seem pretty discouraging. It makes me remember many moments with regret and pray for God’s continued work in me. It makes me look to Jesus with desperation. The truth is, you and I can’t overcome our fears on our own.

But, there is hope! There is a solution for “trying-to-be-perfect fear” that I’ll share in next week’s post. In the meantime, consider the following thoughts with me:

Can you relate? How does fear of failing affect your life? What would you do differently if you didn’t have to put up a front? What have you been kept from doing because of your fears?