Perfectionism has been defined not as striving to be perfect, but as striving to appear perfect. I had no desire to be perfect, actually, and knew I was far from it. However, I felt it was vitally important to appear perfect. When I thought of avoiding the appearance of evil, I thought of all the ways I could make myself look perfect. I believed that to show anything less would be to show weakness and invite others to be disappointed in me. I often heard people talk about how nobody is perfect, but I rarely saw examples of people acknowledging their own imperfections. However, the scriptures again provide examples. Nephi tells us that his heart groans because of his sins that so easily beset him. Joseph Smith is often chastised for his sins. And yet I believed I needed to be above them and it was so important for me to hide any sign of sin or weakness. I have learned that nothing could be further from the truth.
There are no partial truths in this one. We are not meant to appear perfect. We are not meant to be perfect. My sins and my weaknesses are what teach me. They make me better. 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 tells us “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore, I take pleasure in my infirmities…for when I am weak, then am I strong.” Colleen Harrison adds, “Sins are only sins until they become the stepping stones upon which we learn, repent, and mount to Godhood.”
It is clear that my sins are a necessary part of my spiritual journey. So, to acknowledge them allows them to become a part of that process. To act as if they don’t exist means they will remain as sins or mistakes that will continue to weigh me down.
Have you ever felt pressure to appear perfect? Where did that pressure come from? Have you ever felt that if you show your imperfections you would be a failure? Share your thoughts with a comment.