A Recovering Perfectionist

Welcome  I hope you had a blessed weekend.  Today I will share one of my worst personality traits and how God is helping me overcome this struggle.  And as I’m learning to accept my imperfections, instead of constantly beating myself up, I can also embrace the imperfections in others.  So we’re going to celebrate with a super-sweet and imperfectly perfect Brownie Cookie Dough Trifle recipe.  It’s good to be with all of you today. Disclaimer: I may receive monetary compensation for advertising and affiliate links in this blog.  Please see my terms and disclosure page for additional information.

Food For Thought  Perfectionism was not a trait I should ever have been proud of…but I was.  In my late teens and early 20’s, whenever I filled out college applications, job resumes, and even dating profiles, I always listed myself as a perfectionist.  I thought colleges, employers, and potential mates would appreciate my attention to detail and the constant striving to be the best I could be.  I thought perfectionism made me an asset, but I’ve since found it made me more of an ass.  You see, it is impossible to be perfect, since only one has ever walked the earth in perfection.  When I was labeling myself as a perfectionist, I was setting myself up for failure and disappointment for all those around me.  And I put too much pressure on those around me who were content without being a perfectionist.  And not only did a label myself so incorrectly, I wasn’t even striving for the “right kind” of perfection.  It would be one thing to try to be perfect in my walk with God, always striving to do his will and service to others.  But that’s not the perfection I was going for at all.  Mostly my perfectionism was an OCD, always needing things in my environment to be orderly and precise.  Organization and punctuality were traits I not only embraced but deemed mandatory.  I’ve had more than one meltdown in my life because of something being out of place in my kitchen or bathroom.  I also had very little flexibility, wanting to plan out every detail of my life-school, work, marriage, family, home, vacations.  It took almost 40 years, but I think it has finally sunk in that life just doesn’t work that way.  I also have learned that a lot of things I felt I needed to be perfect really have no impact on our whole life picture.  No one cares at this point in my life that I had higher than a 4.0 GPA or how many honor societies I belonged to in school.

There are four main reasons that I should avoid claiming being a perfectionist.  First, perfectionists are not humble.  Every time I made the claim to be a perfectionist, I was boasting that I was great at something, or everything, or at least better than most.  Humility is a much more important trait to have as a Christian.  There will be future stories about my hard lessons of humility!  Second, my vision of what perfection is likely differs greatly from God’s vision of perfection.  God didn’t need me to make perfect grades back then, and he doesn’t need me to have a perfect house, car, or clothes now.  I do think God wants us to try our best and put effort into our life’s activities, but He is not marking tallies for who has had the “best” of everything.  He is considerably more interested in what’s taking place in my heart, mind, and soul.  Third, as I mentioned before, perfect is unattainable for humankind, and every time I try to reach my idea of perfect, I am disappointed.  I can promise you, it is a very lonely and sad life to constantly live with disappointments, even if the disappointments are the result of my own character flaws.  And finally, who am I really trying to be perfect for?  To be completely honest, it had nothing to do with living up to my God-given potential, and everything to do with earthly reward and approval from others.  Not only do the rewards and awards fade away and have little impact on the important things in life, the approval of those “others” never came.  No matter how much pressure or stress I gave myself, or even those around me, it was clear I would never be good enough, let alone perfect.perfect nature

So how have I started recovering from my need for perfection?  First of all, I married a perfectly imperfect man that has, in my parents’ words, mellowed me out.  Our personalities are very different, and those differences balance us.  Sure, there are times I wish he was neater and more organized, and I know there are times he would like me to be more flexible and easy going, but we bring out the best traits in each other.  I can be calm and relaxed with him, and I keep him from missing deadlines or being late!  Also, having a child is a game-changer.  I could have continued trying to have a perfect house, perfect career, perfect grades in my master’s program, and training to have a perfect body while raising a toddler.  Or I could sleep.  And enjoy my life with that husband and toddler.  Sometimes we need to step back and evaluate life and check our priorities.  I wasn’t going to ever have a perfect body anyway, the approval I was seeking didn’t come, and I wanted my child to grow up in a more happy environment.  Remembering that I do not need to live up to others’ expectations or ideas of perfect is not always easy, but it’s worth the effort to have a more happy life and family.  It took a lot of years, but I know I can’t even come close to being perfect, so now I pray for God to step in and be in charge and help me step back to let His perfect plan come through.

  • Today’s Scriptures  God is not expecting perfection from me and is not pleased when I claim perfectionism.  I need these verses to remind me during my struggle.
  • Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”
  • 2 Corinthians 12:9 “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”
  • Galatians 1:10 “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God?  Or am I trying to please men?  If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
  • Philippians 2:5-7 “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant being made in human likeness.”
  • Recommended Reading In the past six years, I have spent a lot of time seeking literature to help me overcome personal struggles.  These three books have helped with letting go of perfectionism: The Gifts of Imperfection  by Brene’ Brown, How Come They’re Happy and I’m Not  by Peter Bongiorno and Uninvited  by Lysa TerKeurst. (The Amazon links and prices were confirmed on 7/11/17 at 5:00 pm CDT)

    Products from Amazon.com

Today’s Recipe We are going to make Perfectly Imperfect Brownie Cookie Dough Trifle today.  Trifles are a great dessert for when you want something nice, but you can still be okay with imperfect.  Stacked and layered cakes can slide and fall, pie crusts are tricky, cheesecakes crack, but the beauty of a trifle is it comes apart only to be put back together in a beautiful arrangement of random sweetness.

Brownie Cookie Dough Trifle
Trifles are a great dessert for when you want something nice, but you can still be okay with imperfect.  Stacked and layered cakes can slide and fall, pie crusts are tricky, cheesecakes crack, but the beauty of a trifle is it comes apart only to be put back together in a beautiful arrangement of random sweetness.
  • For Brownies
  • 2 family-size brownie mixes
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Whisk all ingredients until well-combined.  Bake in greased 9×13 pan at 350 degrees for 55 minutes.  Allow to cool completely
  • For Edible Cookie Dough (no eggs)
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 milk
  • 6 oz mini-chocolate chips
  • Beat butter and sugars together until fluffy.  In medium bowl, whisk flour and salt.  Add flour mixture and milk, alternately, to butter and sugar mixture until it resembles soft cookie dough.
  • For Trifle
  • Cooled Brownies, cut into approximate 1 inch squares-remember, it’s not perfect!
  • Edible Cookie Dough
  • 2 containers of Cool Whip, thawed (you may have extra)
  • 2 jars of hot fudge sauce, warmed for easy spooning  (you may have extra)
  • In a trifle bowl, or large glass bowl, layer a third of the brownie pieces.  Spoon a third of the cookie dough on top of the brownies, placing close to the edges of the bowl so the layers can be seen, but trifle layers do not have to be even.  Spread cool whip over cookie dough and brownie layer; top with 1/2 the hot fudge sauce of one jar.  Layer another third of the brownie pieces, followed by another third of the cookie dough mixture.  Spread cool whip over this layer, topping with remaining hot fudge sauce of first jar.  Top with last of brownie pieces, cookie dough, more cool whip, and drizzle hot fudge sauce across the top.  Now you have an imperfect, but impressive dessert that satisfies everyone’s sweet tooth or chocolate cravings.  And believe me, it is SWEET!