I have often labeled myself and been labeled by others as a “perfectionist.” As a teenager, I considered this a compliment with a caveat. I no longer consider it a compliment but see it as a character flaw stemming from pride, and a lack of true understanding of God’s grand plan of happiness. This particular source of pride has been a direct cause of debilitating depression for me.
Perfectionism in my life ultimately stems from a lack of faith in the Savior’s atonement. I may think that my intentions are good because I am trying to keep all of the commandments with exactness, but actually when I am in perfectionist mode, I don’t want to need a Savior. I don’t want to accept that someone else had to suffer for me. This may seem selfless, but I have come to recognize it as ghastly pride disguised as a close counterfeit to humility. The mentality of doing it myself is rejecting the Savior’s suffering for me. It is actually a mentality that comes dangerously close to the plan that Lucifer proposed in the premortal council. Live perfectly and give the glory to myself, rather than relying upon my Savior’s perfect love and glorify God.
Recently I had a rather bad case of perfectionism. My intentions were initially good. I wanted to try my very best to live by every word from the mouth of God. This is a good desire! Where I went wrong was my response when I realized that it was virtually impossible for me to accomplish this task without failure. Instead of turning to the Lord when I became completely overwhelmed by the task, I turned inward and felt bitter. I lost sight of the enabling power of Jesus Christ and instead thought if I can’t do it, how could the Savior ever do it. The Lord wisely let me struggle in this miserable state for a period of time. After much studying and pondering and wise counsel from my mother, I rejoiced when on Christmas Eve I caught a glimpse of God’s pure love for me in giving me the gift of His son. My heart felt to sing the song of redeeming love that Alma talks about.
Nothing is as humbling to me as realizing my complete dependency upon my Savior. And this realization is always accompanied by a realization of his overwhelming love for me, a sinner.
“…if ye have experienced a change of heart, if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?”