And Deliver us from Perfectionism: Part TwoSunday, January 29, 2006
The Gospel is Better Than
Feng Shui has picked up a mild quantity of people in the United States here recently. It is the ancient Chinese art of orienting objects to promote a healthy flow of chi. That's chi. No, I didn't leave the "li" off chi. It's not chili. There is no such thing as a healthy flow of chili. Nor is it chai. It is not a reference to tea or to an alternative to coffee that Starbucks offers. Chi is a chinese reference to the vital energy that supposedly flows through each and every living thing.
Feng Shui is the art of orienting your body and the things around you to allow a healthy flow of chi, instead of a negative flow. I don't believe in any of this, of course. It's the kind of junk Star Wars is based on. But it serves my purposes here.
The biggest blocker of chi flow is bad feng shui. And do you know what blocks the flow of chi? Clutter, among other things (such as sharp objects and dark corners, which together, are a no-brainer among things to avoid regardless of one's belief in chi). According to Feng Shui for Dummies, "The number one cure for chi movement problems is clearing the clutter." If I were Chinese, feng shui would be a sure help to my perfectionism. But I believe the gospel is better that feng shui.
Picking up from the first post on this title, perfectionism was (and many times still is) that tendency that provoked me constantly to create an atmosphere around me of safety, security, and comfort. That's probably why many Americans have resorted to feng shui and an introspective look at their chi flow (I think it's primarily found in our navals). What I mean here is that as long as everything was where it should be, I felt secure. As long as the schedule on Outlook was followed and tasks completed, there was much comfort. As long as the wife and kids kept things clean, I felt safe.
This is the height of selfishness, of course. I make myself the sun of my universe, and everyone else around me must hurriedly bow down to me in the name of being flexible with my personality oddities. It took a while, but eventually I saw what was happening. My wife and children were rushing around during the day to meet my demands and make sure I didn't get unhappy, frustrated, angry, or out of sorts. And because they were bowing to my perfectionism, they weren't bowing to King Jesus. The motivation behind their efforts were to please me and not Him. How can there be any spiritual maturity at all in an atmosphere like that? In my stupidity and depravity, I was actually hindering the very thing I verbally encouraged. But God is so gracious and has made up many of those years that seemed to me to be lost.
What destroyed and continues to destroy this perfectionism for me was and is the gospel. The gospel is a message that preaches to me that my safety, security, and comfort are found in the person of Christ and the control of a Sovereign God over my life, and not in the sovereignty I wish to exert over my own life and household. He works all things out for my good in order to conform me to Christ. If ever there was a destructive and disintegrating blow to perfectionism, it is the gospel.This has been a stark lesson to me, creating in me a greater sensitivity to anything else that I seem to reach out to for a feeling of security or comfort. The cross should provide that for me, and not the way I arrange my clothes in my closet. God's love should equip me with far more security than the more superficial feeling of security I get when the things on my desk are arranged in order.
So whether it is the kind of clothes we wear, the type of music we prefer to listen to, the way we spend our evenings, the places we shop, the shows we watch, the things we read, etc. none of it can offer the comfort, safety, and security than the gospel. If we would spend a few moments in thought we would find it absolutely amazing that we spend so much time, effort, energy, and money on creating an environment around us that makes us feel comfortable, safe, and secure. Whether it is perfectionism that provokes this, or whatever else it is, it needs to die, and in fact it will only die at the edge of the gospel sword.
May this post help us all to be more sensitive to anything and everything like this in our daily lives that subtly steals away or obscures or threatens the reality of the gospel.