Perfectionist? Or Chicken?


Just start.

Right now.

Stop second guessing.

Stop searching for more information and ideas.


And on and on goes the internal voice in my mind.  Arguing with itself rather than doing something.

What’s it called when you are so afraid of messing something up that you just don’t start anything at all?  Perfectionism? That’s what my husband likes to call it.  I’ll be honest, I love that way of looking at it.  If you look at it as perfectionism that’s a much lovelier alternative than the ones I typically torture myself with.  For example: Lazy. Chicken.  Not remotely good enough at x, y or z to make it even worth doing.  Don’t have the resources needed (time, money, tools, space.)  Haven’t done enough research on whatever it is to truly be making an informed decision, step, product, etc. Too old to start something new.  Too young to be taken seriously. . .

But these are all lies told by the crazy voice inside my head.  Does anyone else have that crazy voice in there?

For as almost as far back as I can remember, I couldn’t get enough of the Impressionistic painters of France- Monet, Renoir, Degas.  Janet, my stepmom, had several prints around our house growing up and I loved just staring at them before I knew who they were or what their art was called.  My bedroom, and later my dorm room and first apartments were covered with prints I had collected by them. Discovering them unlocked my passion for Paris and France and the pursuit of the joie de vivre they had mastered.  Painters who didn’t attempt to make their paintings a perfect reflection of the world around them, instead they tried to capture a feeling, a tone, an impression of a place.  Painters who were rejected by the traditional schools and galleries of their time.  Painters who seemed to revel in breaking the rules of their day and creating something that told a bigger story.

Yet somewhere along the lines, I stopped appreciating the way their art made me feel and dream and instead looked for pieces whose artists’ skill was evident in the precise way they captured reality, almost as if they were photographs rather than paintings. . . incredible in themselves, absolutely, but I’ve missed the joy of letting a piece take you into a different world.  A world where edges are blurred and even a stack of hay outside a barn tells a story.  And I’m tired of holding everything to standards of perfection that are unattainable and unnecessary.

Edouard Manet, the French artist whose boundary pushing work set the stage for Impressionism once said this:  “It is not enough to know your craft – you have to have feeling. Science is all very well, but for us imagination is worth far more.”

Sometimes I think that as an adult we get caught up in the “science” part of adulthood.  By science I mean that there are certain ways to do things, certain paths, steps, precise measurements one must follow to get from Point A to Point B and if you didn’t bother taking that exact path then you shouldn’t logically expect to ever be able to reach Point B.  The mixture is contaminated, the blend is off and instead of making rubber, you’ve made slime.  Had Manet not continued to pursue art the way he wanted to create, had he listened to the voice of his instructor who called his work an “abomination,” had he simply accepted the rejection of his works and not protested to the King, the Salon des Refuses ( “the exhibition of rejects”) that became the launching pad of Impressionism and Modern Art might never have been.  Had Manet kept on trying to fit into the mold, had he stopped learning and growing after he left the Academy, conceivably there may not be the rainbow of art and artists we have today.  Impressionism might not seem like a far stretch from reality compared to the abstract artwork of Picasso, Dali or Pollock, but it was the steps those Impressionistic artists took that were the pebbles that started the avalanche of creativity and exploration for future generations of artists.

What if Manet had just not started because he didn’t think he was good enough?  What if Manet had refused to pick up a brush because he knew his art wouldn’t look like those he’d seen in the museums? What if Manet hadn’t been brave enough to keep doing what he loved despite the disdain of his mentors and teachers?

Here and now I’m making a vow to stop letting myself off the hook with excuses for why I just can’t start or shouldn’t do something, because the truth is,  if God puts something on my (or your) heart, he is going to provide the doors and opportunities to walk towards to discover the tools needed to do it.  Hebrews 13:21 reminds us that God will “equip you with every good thing for doing his will.”  Does God’s will always appear perfect to the world? Of course not.  That’s why Jesus dying on the cross seemed like a victory for Satan for three days.  It might be hard, it might take more time than makes any sense at all, it might take a failure or three, it might look like a blurry picture or an abomination to some out there, but it might just look like the start of something infinitely bigger than you could have imagined.

So what do you need to start today? What voice do you need to tell to be quiet? What idea of perfectionism or impossible standard do you keep hanging onto for yourself that’s holding you back from making/doing/being something incredible? Today, let’s quiet those excuses, be brave and just get started . . .





Title art:  “Impression, Sunrise”  Claude Monet



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2 thoughts on “Perfectionist? Or Chicken?

  1. This is so timely for me! Gods been putting a new ministry on our hearts to start and we have started. It absolutely doesn’t make sense to some and it’s not following all the rules of things should be done…and it’s scary. And here we go! Encouraging to know someone else battling these same thoughts & feelings & encouraged that you, too, are letting Jesus guide you!

    1. Wow Leigh Ann! That’s so exciting and scary and exhilarating all at the same time. Good for you guys to let God lead you, I can’t wait to hear more about it!

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