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From Perfectionist to Perfection in Christ with Cecille Valoria

Jul 10, 2024 | Changed

“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” Matthew 5:48 (ESV)

I ran myself ragged. 

I felt no one could do things I needed done better than me. 

I came to the conclusion years ago that it takes more work and energy to teach others how to do things the way I wanted them done so I did everything myself. 

I had to confront my perfectionistic tendencies when I hit a crunch time for an event with my nonprofit organization and three teenage girls volunteered to help me put together flower arrangements. My organization, A Simple Touch Ministry, delivers flower arrangements to patients in convalescent hospitals to brighten their day. I hesitantly accepted the girls’ help while struggling deep within myself with the need to make sure the flowers were arranged perfectly. 

Perfectionism.  Is this a thorn in your side, too? 

The American Psychological Association defines perfectionism as “the tendency to demand of others or of oneself an extremely high or even flawless level of performance, in excess of what is required by the situation. It is associated with depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and other mental health problems.” This described me to a T.

Don’t get me wrong—setting high expectations and doing excellent work is good. But when we take on an “it’s my way or the highway” attitude, when the demands we put on ourselves and others rise to an extreme level, it becomes a problem. This is where depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues hold hands with perfectionism. 

Without being aware of it, God began His work in my brokenness through the generosity of these young girls. He showed me how to let go by reminding me He created an inherent beauty in flowers. No matter how arranged, flowers display beauty because of their Creator. 

From that point forward, God chiseled through layers of my meticulousness as He allowed situations in my life that triggered them. As a caregiver. In my writing. In my work. 

He targeted my heart. 

The Lord showed me the value of other people’s work. My heart softened towards accepting the unique gifts and perspectives of others. He opened my eyes to the truth of 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and the importance of community in the body of Christ. And He taught me how to love and humble myself before Him and those around me. 

Recently, God parked my verse study in Matthew 5:48, “Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (ESV). At a glance, these words made this recovering perfectionist a little uncomfortable. Does God expect me to be perfect?

Digging deep and studying the chapter more closely allowed me to see the context of the verse and the theme of this section. Matthew 5, the first chapter in the Sermon on the Mount, unveils Jesus’ radical teaching on how to live as a child of God’s kingdom in contrast to the world’s view. This is perfection and the ideal, but God does not expect us to achieve this on our own. Only God is perfect, but we can achieve perfection through and in Him. Although we may not see perfection on this side of heaven, we can be assured we will see it when we come face-to-face with Him.

Our journey here on earth is our training ground towards the perfection only He can transform us into. As we daily abide in Christ and surrender our perfectionistic tendencies to Him, He molds us into His likeness. His perfect love casts out the fear and anxiety that fueled our perfectionism (1 John 4:18). Instead of striving for unattainable perfection, we can rest in His perfect grace and find joy in the beauty of His creation, including the diverse gifts, talents, and perspectives of others. Though the struggle is ongoing, we can learn to embrace the imperfect and find contentment in God’s perfect plan for our lives.

To be a “woman after God’s own heart” is Cecille’s desire for her life. She is married to Sal and has two adult children, a son-in-love, and a granddaughter. Cecille finds expression in her passion for discipling and encouraging others through her devotional writing, blog and her podcast, “Digging Deep for Treasures Podcast with Cecille Valoria.” After 31 years of teaching in elementary school, she retired to take care of her elderly dad.

She enjoys traveling, photography, baking, and flower arranging. She founded a nonprofit organization, A Simple Touch Ministry, that delivers flower arrangements to patients in convalescent hospitals. Cecille published her first memoir/self-help book, “Slaying Your Fear Giants, Moving from a Jungle of Terror to a Garden of Peace,” in November 2019. It chronicles her battle with anxiety and is her personal testimony of God’s healing and faithfulness in her life. She has a devotional and two children’s picture book manuscripts waiting to be published.

CecilleValoria.com

Instagram: @valoriacecille

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