Perfectionism was a stranglehold that was showing itself in all kinds of destructive ways in my life. And God dealt with them one by one, and being honest with and accountable to others was a part of that process for me.
– from an author q&a with Amanda Jenkins, author of Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist (learning to be free)
I was immediately drawn to the title of this book. While I’m not exactly a raging perfectionist, I have sometimes spent way too much time searching for exactly the right word to finish writing a sentence, or insisted on re-washing a mug from the dishwasher that wasn’t quite as pristine as I wanted it to be. So when Amanda Jenkins describes her drive for perfection, I can well understand what she means.
The strength of her book is the story of her own experience, told so informally and personally that I feel I can call her Amanda even though we’ve never met. Amanda shares freely about vanity, money, recognition, parenthood, and a host of other occasions for perfectionism. I hear about her friends and some of their struggles, about raising a child with special needs, how she and her husband also adopted a child from Thailand.
Amanda intersperses her personal story with related stories and verses from Scripture, and her personal faith and relationship with Jesus shine through. She clearly writes for an audience of primarily evangelical Christian women, and does so with the prayer that God will use her story to further their journey. As she learns to let go, as she learns to accept herself and the imperfect reality of this world, she tells her story in an engaging and helpful way for her readers.
Discussion questions for each chapter are included at the end of the book as one way of putting into practice the accountability that she describes in the quote above. If you’re reading the book on your own, consider journaling through the questions as an alternative.
Confessions of a book reviewer: Tyndale House Publishers provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. Here is the intro and first chapter.
Another book for recovering perfectionists is Good Enough: Stop Seeking Perfection and Approval by Bryan L. Hutchinson. This is an e-book for writers available as a free download for subscribers to Positive Writer, but it applies more broadly too. Here is one choice quote:
Perfection is not for us mere mortals.
People like you and me make mistakes.
We must learn and improve as we go.
If perfectionism is an issue for you, how do you deal with it?