Perfectionism and Impostor Syndrome - Erin Slone (Podcast Episode 1)
Perfectionism at work may sound like an asset, but it can ratchet up anxiety and steal your joy, energy, and creativity, leading to stress, burnout, and anxiety. Perfectionism has also been linked to impostor syndrome, which is defined by feelings of inadequacy that persist despite real evident success. God can lead us out of perfectionism and into freedom. With guest Erin Slone.
Psalm 139:1-4, 14
Lord, you have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away. You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely...I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.
He must increase, but I must decrease.
Hebrews 4:14 - 16
Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
Additional Resources Referenced
The Call to Work. The Call to Work course is a workshop-based experience teaching participants to integrate their faith into their daily, hour-by-hour work situations. The Course catalyzes spiritual growth and transformation as participants leverage the truth of Scripture to help them respond well to the current challenges that keep them up at night.
Lectio Divina. A spiritual practice that includes scripture and prayer.
The Pros and Cons of Perfectionism According to Research, Harvard Business Review, 2018
Perfectionism is Increasing and That's Not Good News, Harvard Business Review, 2018
Overcoming Imposter Syndome, Harvard Business Review, 2008
Leah Archibald: Making It Work is brought to you by The Max De Pree Center for Leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary and the Theology of Work Project.
Mark Roberts: Welcome to Making it Work.
LA: Through conversation, scripture and stories, we invite God into work’s biggest challenges... so that you can live out your purpose in the workplace.
MR: I’m Mark Roberts.
LA: And I’m Leah Archibald. And this is Making It Work.
Perfectionism at work. It may sound like an asset, but it can ratchet up anxiety and steal your joy, energy, and creativity. According to the Harvard Business Review, studies have found that perfectionists have higher levels of stress, burnout, and anxiety. One study of nearly 42,000 young people around the world found that perfectionism has risen over the past 27 years. Perfectionism has also been linked to syndrome, which is defined by feelings of inadequacy that persists despite your real evident success. So that's what we're talking about today on the podcast. We're very excited to have a guest with us here today. Our guest today is Erin Slone and she's gonna talk about her experience with perfectionism, syndrome, and anxiety and how her relationship with God has made a difference for her in that. So welcome Erin.
Erin Slone: Thanks Leah, glad to be here.
LA: Thank you so much for being with us today. Would you just tell us a little bit about the work you do?
ES: Well, being the Type A person, I actually have two jobs. So one, I am a marketing consultant for political officials here in the city of Chicago, and the State of Illinois, and then I also will be taking a full-time position as the chief of staff for a tech startup based in LA.
LA: That's a new position that you're going into?
ES: Yeah, that's a new position that I'm starting.
LA: Oh wow, congratulations.
ES: Thank you, thank you very much.
LA: So tell us about the industries that you worked in over the course of your career.
ES: Well, the majority of my career has been in finance. I was an investment banker for about 13 years with a number of firms, mainly in Chicago ranging from small boutiques to large multinational companies.
LA: And when did you notice this tendency towards perfectionism?
ES: Oh my gosh, I... At a very early age, my mom was an educator. And my dad was always my coach, and so, it was one thing of, "Okay, you've got an A minus. Why wasn't that an A or an A plus?" You know, they put in me that drive to be better, to be best, and I just kind of took it and ran with it. [chuckle] So, I was the kid that I would... With my softball teams, once practice was finished, I was still practicing another hour to make sure that I could hit this or I could make a free throw. If it was... As school was concerned, I'd get out of class and I would be studying right away. So that's always been the way I was programmed and I had a lot of success as a kid, like the harder I worked the more it panned out, but it became all consuming at a certain point, probably about high school.
LA: And how did that look in your career?
ES: Oh my goodness, my career was the absolute same. I worked hard, I got promoted, I got raises, I was given my own team, my own territories and it just didn't feel like it was enough. I felt like I was pretending, like I was an imposter, that I was a fraud, that people would... Although, they're giving me all of this responsibility, any day now, I'm gonna drop one of these spinning plates and they're gonna find out that I was faking the whole time. So it worked... On the outside, I looked super successful, on the inside, I was a nervous wreck, paralyzed at times.
LA: Wow. Were you following God at this point in your life?
ES: You know, I was brought up in a very religious household. But the concept of faith is something that is... I would say like within the last five to six years is where I really got an understanding of what it meant to follow God. I always believed in God, I always tried to pray, but even with that, I didn't feel like I was doing it right, I didn't feel like I was praying right, I didn't feel like I was worshipping right. So, even that syndrome leaked over into my spiritual life too.
LA: I hear that, I can really identify with perfectionism, even in prayer. Oh gosh, I'm not doing it... I think so many of us can identify with that.
ES: Oh, yeah, you find people who are so articulate and I'm like, "Wow, they really know how to pray." And I remember asking my Godmother, like, "Can you teach me how, like how do you do that?" [chuckle] And she had to break it down to me. It doesn't work that way. [chuckle] No.
LA: I think Jesus followers asked them that too. [laughter]
ES: Oh, for sure. [chuckle]
MR: It’s so easy, so easy to turn that into something where we have to perform, we think we have to perform for God.
ES: Well, I mean, the doctrine that I was raised in, it was definitely known for shame. [chuckle] You had to have... Everything had to be done right, it had to be memorized and if not, you had to confess that you were... So it was constantly... I felt like I was constantly reminded that I was not living up to the standards. And so, it was one of those things where I just felt like I was doomed to begin with.
MR: Yeah. Well, that would be pretty tough to live with in faith as in work, in all of life really, right?
ES: Yeah. Absolutely.
MR: Relationships, everything.
LA: So tell us, Erin, what changed?
ES: Oh, I got to a point where, work was going really well, I'd bought my own home, I was 25, 26 and I was living the life, but it got to a point where I was paralyzed, I would get home from work and I would be on the couch like an entire weekend, I would not move. I just felt... I was... Like, depression was real. It was a big heavy blanket and I had to come to grips and understand that something had to change and it wasn't anything that I was doing at work per se, but it was in how I was looking to that and I had a therapist, I had a life coach and all of that, and it was still something that would creep back in every so often. But really when I found my church home, and I really got to understand and grow a relationship with Christ, I was actually introduced to The Call to Work through my church, a program that was being piloted and it completely changed the way I saw myself and I saw work and I saw my interactions with people.
LA: And so, I'll just say, I'm doing the Call to Work, right now, I love it.
ES: Oh, are you? Awesome.
LA: It's just so great. So I'll explain for the listener. The Call to Work is a small group experience and a lot of churches have these where you... on a weekly basis, meet with other people who are trying to follow God in their lives and talk through problems in your life, and so The Call to Work is one of these community groups, or small group experiences where you get together with people and talk about what's going on, and there's some curriculum involved in this particular program that helps you look at how God could be present in your day-to-day, how God could be present in your work.
LA: So, Erin, just tell us a little bit about of... Tell us a little bit about what you learned there.
ES: Well, I think the biggest part for me was, I've been a member of a lot of small groups, but every time that we met, the emphasis was made on it being a community of grace, where you're not there to judge, you're not there to give advice, but to listen, to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you. And I think with some of the tools that we got in that was really understanding, it's very easy to point your finger at someone else, if you've got a problem at work, or with your loved ones, or what have you, and say, "They did it, it's their fault." I think what The Call to Work emphasized was really looking at not just the brokenness with the relationship with you and that person, but also having to recognize the brokenness within you and your relationship with yourself and God, and then seeing also the good things that are there and what is it that God is trying to heal in that situation, what is it that God is trying to do in that situation?
ES: So, it got to the point where now having been through it a couple of times, now I take... It happens almost automatically where I go through this checklist, that I'm not as quick to react, because just like I had to accept and embrace the fact that I'm a child of God, I had to recognize that that person that I might be having an issue with or a situation that they also are a child of God too and to respond accordingly. That changed everything for me.
MR: So it's really...learning to see yourself and see others in a different way.
MR: And then, it sounds like developing a practice of bringing that to mind in the context of your work.
ES: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, when it was first presented to me, and it was like, "Oh, how do we bring... We have Kingdom-oriented responses in the day-to-day." I'm like, okay academically, it sounds really great, but like in my heart how does this work? And I think being in such a small intimate group... First we went through case studies. So completely unattached. But then as we went further into the curriculum and we started using our own personal experiences, seeing someone work through those tools themselves was such a blessing to me that I could apply that to my life as well. I think of my entire spiritual journey, that this was really a turning point to me of how to put God's work or words into practice.
It's something that even in church now, the people that were in that first group, we all went to the same service and we knew each other's faces, but we didn't really know one another. Now, after... We all just happened to be at the 10:00 AM service, now we are standing in the hallway and it's just such a real care and joy for us to celebrate that we can come up and be our authentic selves and say, "This is what God is showing me in the situation that I had been dealing with." And people are... There's such a community that was built out of this.
LA: I just... I wanna interject my little arm chair analysis of the situation, but I heard you saying, Erin, that you started off at work facing this really crushing sense of perfectionism or really just syndrome, you talked about yourself feeling like you are a fraud, or that other people were gonna find out that you weren't perfect or the shoe was gonna drop, so much so that it was crushing. And then you came to this small group experience where people were talking about their work and their lives. And as you saw other people being vulnerable... And I don't know, you still liked them, afterwards. I wonder if that was part of the process for you being able to accept yourself better as you saw that they were made in God's image...
Leah: Did that help you see yourself made in God's image?
ES: Absolutely. I mean, to see that in our group, we had people that came from all different types of professions. I always thought if I made it to the top of my profession, then everything would be good. But I'm dealing with people who are doctors and lawyers and sales people, and pastors and we're all dealing with the same thing and I thought, "Oh, this is what it means to be human." It's not that I was a bad worker, it was that, "No, I'm just a human." This is our experience and to see other people be vulnerable and to speak it out loud and guess what, the sky didn't fall, because you actually articulated how you felt. It was... It seemed so small and so simple, but I could let go of that perfectionism, even so much so that when I was negotiating this new position, I made it abundantly clear.
"These are things that I need in order for me to be successful at this company. I will give my all, but I am involved with the small group with church and I lead a group and I volunteer in my community. There are times where I might wanna go to a conference or I'm not available on this particular day for travel, are you okay with that?" Never in a million years would I articulate that. [chuckle] I kinda did it on my own, and I felt like I had to segment my life. Now it's all encompassing. Like no, this is me, this is what's important and I want to be sure that I can honor that and you can respect that Mr. Employer.
17:13 Leah: How was that received by your new employer?
17:14 ES: Oh. He said, "Okay, that's cool." [laughter] That was it. It wasn't... I mean, even I had a bit of a time where, when we were in negotiations of talking, I needed to... A chief of staff position is kind of nebulous. You do anything and everything. And I wanted to make sure that we had some boundaries set around that. Like, give me some... How can I interpret success? So I know what I'm going for, that I don't fall into my old traps of burning myself completely out. So, he was good. He was really open to that. I think I lucked out in finding a company that sees me not just as a worker, but as a whole person that has a life, that has family that has community responsibilities and being able to embrace me of being successful in that. That was very important for me and it's something, now, that I've experienced it, I wouldn't want it any other way.
LA: That's really inspiring. I also feel that that's very inspiring to a lot of women who will be listening to this podcast. And I know perfectionism and syndrome hits us all, but it really feels most crushing, for me, I'm a woman in the workforce, and I do really feel that pressure to always be on for my work and also always be on for my family and also always be on for my church community. And I have a very different job. I literally write about the Bible for my job. This is like a 2000-year-old resource. There's no emergencies in my job that I need to be dealing with at 9:00 PM at night, but for me, the desire to please and to perform, I just really... Everything you said really resonates with me, so I just really appreciate you saying that Erin.
ES: I just didn't... You could be on for everyone else, but I wasn't on for myself, I wasn't taking that time to... I would say my daily devotional time or... It's been such a recharge for me. First thing in the morning. God is on my mind, and that is come hell or high water, we are... I'm taking that time for me. If I have to block off on my calendar, which I do sometimes for work, to protect that time, because I need it. And I found when I was traveling a lot, that I was missing that. And the more that I... Or the less reading and studying I did, the more anxious I was, the more... I would go back into my old traps of perfectionism.
MR: Can you share a little bit about what you do in your morning devotional time?
ES: Okay. So I've been working with going through the Bible the entire year. [chuckle] That is... At first it started out of my Type A, "Oh, this would be a great goal for the year. I wanna cross it off of my goal sheets, my to-do list." But it's really... I actually adore the Bible app. So I found a Bible in one year, that's been great. And there are times where I... Through one of my small groups, we've been trying to practice the Lectio Divina of finding that one verse that's really speaking to you and reading it multiple times and trying to put yourself into what is God speaking to me in this one verse that's popping out to me, and spending a little time on that 30-40 minutes, and journaling around that. And then I also like to while I... Because I work from home, I have praise and worship music going non-stop 24/7 that it keeps me upbeat, it keeps me joyful and hopeful, even when I'm probably against tight deadlines, it still keeps it light in my house. I feel God in my fingers as I'm typing, it seems like, which is a big departure from... I was that woman that always had that nervous tap under the desk, like my leg going a mile a minute. I don't have that when I have praise and worship going.
MR: That's good. Thanks for sharing that. I'm struck that in your use of Scripture, partly, there's a broad reading. So, if you're trying to get through the Bible in a year, and that's two or three chapters a day on a regular basis, so you have that breadth, but then with Lectio Divina, the focus and really letting God speak through one particular verse or phrase or even word, and reflecting and meditating on that, so it's encouraging to hear that you're getting sort of the broader picture, and then also really waiting on God to hear very specific things from a very focused attention to the Scripture and to what God's saying. Have there been any passages of Scripture that have really helped you in terms of your perfectionism and the imposter syndrome? Any passages that have been encouraging or instructive to you?
ES: Yeah, there are two. The one that I really... Gosh, it was my mantra for a couple of months in Psalm 139 where, "I praise you because I'm fearfully wonderfully made. Your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” And it took me a while... I'm like, "Okay, yeah, I've heard that as a kid coming up, "I'm fearfully and wonderfully made, and your works are wonderful." And I'm like, wait a second, but if you made... If your works are wonderful, and you made me and I'm a work of you, then that means I'm wonderful too. That was a really hard pill to swallow. Like, the Type A person in me would not accept that for a while, that God didn't make any mistakes with me, that he... I am who I am because he made me this way and I need to love that person and accept that person, that like... Even thinking about it now, brings me to tears. I don't know why that was so difficult for me to accept from... Yeah, yeah, it just kills me.
MR: That's such a great observation, because I think many of us would be comfortable saying or singing to God and saying your works are wonderful, right?
MR: If that would be... That wouldn't be a stretch for us. But to sing or to say that and to think... And that includes me. The Psalmist says, "I am fearful and wonderfully made." But it's easy how many of us have a hard time embracing that. We're sort of aware of our limitations, our sins, our failures and not that those don't count or aren't important. But we can let that kind of overwhelm and take away the fact that God treasures and values us and wants relationship with us, and it's not based on our performance, but based on God's creation, God's love and grace in our lives. And so that's wonderful that that scripture was one that really stood out to you.
ES: Yeah, it did. It did.
LA: I tell you what, I may be... Some days I have a easy time recognizing that I'm wonderfully made, but that other guy, there's someone else around me or someone else in my office.
LA: That one... That one's wonderfully made too?
ES: Yeah, yeah, that's what the Call to Work got me on that. [chuckle] That one, I was so convicted. I was, [chuckle] seriously, I was. 'Cause yeah, it was hard for me... If it was hard for me to accept that about myself, this person who gets on my last nerve, I've got to say that about him, too? Yeah, that was a turning point.
LA: Did you have a particular story about a particular co-worker you're thinking of Erin?
ES: Oh, my goodness. So when I first came on as a consultant to this company, everyone has been the master of their particular space, their industry and they're very protective of, "Who's this woman coming in, asking me for stuff and doing this stuff?" And I had written a simple email requesting something for a meeting and instead of just giving me a deck that had already been prepared, this guy wanted to lecture me on how I was going to deliver stuff. And I got like a cat, the hairs were jumping up on my head. And I'm like, "I wanna get this guy. No, he didn't, how dare he question me?" And I was in the midst of the Call to Work, and I was sitting at dinner with my boyfriend. I slammed down my phone and he's like, "What's going on with you?" And I'm like, "Aah, nothing." And in my head, I went through that checklist of, "What is healed and what is broken and what is good."
ES: And I said, "What's good is this guy knows his stuff. And he knows I know my stuff, because I wouldn't have been hired." What's broken is, "You know what, we don't know one another well enough, right?" That I've been employed here for... I've been consulting for about a month, and we haven't really struck up any kind of bond outside of that. So I tailored my response, was a little less curt than what I initially wanted to do. And then I asked him, "So how are you doing?" I later found out that his grandfather who practically raised him, was in hospice care and was expected to pass any day. I learned that he had some other things going on, and then I thought, "Aah." So ever since then, we were able to have an interaction that isn't just work, it's not like we're best of friends but we have respect for one another.
Had I responded in my old way my form of, "I'm gonna check this guy and put him in his place." I would have missed out on a deeper relationship of knowing more about him, of being able to show him that love and grace that he needed at that very moment when his world was turning upside down. I would have missed my calling and I think I really would have failed as a Christian had I responded in my... The way Erin would want to. And not the way Christ would want me to.
MR: Thanks for sharing, that's a great story. And I think just about everybody listening to this, if we're honest with ourselves, we can completely relate. We're thinking of the people who just get us, right? And this desire to put people in their place and not to see them as fully human. Part of what you've been able to accept in yourself is your humanity, and created in God's image, fearfully and wonderfully made, but then also being able to see others that way. As you were talking, I was thinking of a story from quite a few years ago when I was teaching in a college setting. And I had a student who was just under-performing and this will show some of my bias, but he was also a member of the football team, so I sort of thought, "Oh he's not really serious about school." And I kind of had him in this box. And he turned in this paper that was really poor. And so I was gonna meet with him and just really tell him off and he came in and I happened to ask, just I think it was God's grace, to say, "You know, your paper wasn't so good. Is there anything going on in your life that's not good?" And it was a similar thing. He was, he told me this story and I confirmed it, it was totally true. His mother was dying of cancer, he was having to go home a lot. And I just thought, "Oh my gosh, I almost tore this guy apart."
And really, that was one of those moments of, on the one hand, seeing somebody's humanity and the other hand, seeing my own lack of compassion, and seeing him in a certain role, "He's a football player who's not doing his work." Rather than someone totally different. And that was many years ago, but I've tried to carry that with me and mostly I can, except, as you say, there's sometimes those people who just, they get under our skin.
MR: And to be able to see them more fully and to know there's another story here. I might not ever know it, they may never share it, but something's going on with them that changes the relationship, changes us.
ES: Right. But I also would flip that on its ear, that grace... At times I find myself... If I was... If my natural reaction is not to give people that grace or the benefit of the doubt, what am I doing to myself? 'Cause typically, I treat people, other people better than I treat myself. I don't see the negative self-talk that I have experienced, I would never say that to someone else. So that's also to put on. If I'm less likely to give grace to others, I'm definitely not giving any grace to myself, that's no way to be either.
MR: Wow yeah, I can so relate.
LA: I wonder if our desire for perfectionism in ourselves separates us from people 'cause we don't want them to judge us. And then our desire for perfectionism, in other people separates us from them too.
ES: Agree. I think you hit it right on the head. Yes, I would agree with that wholeheartedly.
MR: Well, and it creates distance in other ways too. I just think of my own life, so I completely relate to this perfectionism thing. Recently I was giving a talk at a place at a conference. And I think if I were gonna be objective, I would say that 99% of what I did was really good. The response of people was really bad, but I said one thing that I really wished I hadn't said. And that was all I could think about afterwards. And so part of what that does... It certainly hurts my sense of self, and I think it distorts my ability even to see myself well. But the other thing it does in me is it makes me reticent to want to admit when I'm wrong, to others. And that builds barriers, 'cause then if I do something wrong and I'm caught on it, I don't want to admit it to myself because then I feel bad about myself. But then that also creates a barrier between me and the others. It keeps me from growing, it keeps relationships from being strong and healthy and so that need to be right, always. It can really damage workplace relationships.
LA: As I'm listening to you talk, I'm thinking my own perfectionism drives me to try to keep a lot hidden. I don't want other people to see when I make mistakes. I don't want anyone to know. And I'm thinking of the beginning of Psalm 139, which you brought up, was so pivotal to you, Erin. It starts off... It's, Psalm 139 starts off, "You have searched me Lord, and you know me." I don't want that to be true, I don't want God to... [chuckle] I don't wanna believe. "Oh, argh, really? You know that Lord? You know that? You know all my faults?" And even at the end of the... Even as it starts off just with a fact, the fact, "God, you've searched me and you know me." And then the last stanza of the Psalm is invitation for God to keep doing that. "Search me God, and know my heart. Test me, and know my anxious thoughts." That sounds to me like the process that you went through in your journey. Actually, you're asking to be known at the end of your journey away from perfectionism.
ES: It is, I remember when I was really got on this journey, I was... I'm on my knees praying, and I'm like, "God, I don't know what to say, I don't... Like, you know me, you know my heart, I don't know what to say." And for me to be able to to admit that. I don't have the words, I can't describe this feeling that I feel right now. Search me, show me, what it is that I need to see. And that's all, sometimes I would just sit in complete silence, at the very beginning.
"Just reveal to me what is it that I need to know?" And I truly believe that God has shown me so many things. I had to let go. What does the verse where, "I have to decrease in order for him to increase?" That was the next verse for me to really, accept. That I had to let go of who Erin thinks she is in order for God to fill me, for him to use me. I had to let go of that.
MR: You know this notion of God knowing us thoroughly. I thought a lot about that in my own life and in my work with people, and I think that could be one of the scariest ideas ever. That God knows everything about us. Were it not for the difference Christ makes. And one of the passages of scripture that has been so important in my own life, in my ministry is from Hebrews, in the fourth chapter, where it talks about Jesus as our high priest, and it says of him, "That he is not unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but it has been tested as we are in every respect, except that he hasn't sinned." So first of all, we have in Jesus, somebody who really understands, really gets what it is to be human with the exception of sin. But then there's this just unbelievable invitation is, "Let us, therefore, approach the throne of grace with boldness so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need." So the idea is that God knows us completely but because of Jesus, our high priest, we are welcomed into his presence, we're invited knowing we'll receive mercy and grace.
MR: And so this idea that could be so scary, namely, "God, knows everything about me," becomes, then, this extraordinary reassuring fact that when I come before God, he already knows it all. He knows the good and all the bad, and yet in Christ I am understood, and in Christ I'm accepted. And God is welcoming me and I can just tell him anything I want and be who I am in God's presence. And that then takes the scary thing, and turns it into one of the most precious and amazing truths I could imagine.
ES: I mean, that's the safest place to be, right? God is not... He still loves me, anyway.
ES: God loves me. So if I can... So if he accepts me as who I am, and he still loves me anyway, then I can show up as my real true self with my family, with... And my mother and my sister pointed it out. They said there's something that's different. You just seem to be not as guarded. When I started this process and I thought, "Wow, I didn't even realize, that that's how I was showing up." And this is the woman that gave me life. Once I was able to really embrace the safety and love in the peace of God, then I was able to be just myself, unapologetically just me with everyone else that I encounter.
LA: So how does that look for you at work? Do you feel now after really deepening your relationship with God and really deepening your understanding of the way that he made you, do you feel that you're able to be, like you said, your full-self at work?
ES: Yeah, I'm able to say before being the people pleaser I was, so I would say, "Yeah, sure, no problem." And I would stay up until dawn trying to work on something. And then now I can say, "You know what, I can't. I just, I can't do that, I need to sleep. This is going to take me a couple of days to do." Versus me saying, "Oh yeah, I can get that done in a couple of hours." And I nearly give myself a stroke [chuckle] of such stress. I think it's allowed me to accept and recognize my limitations for me to advocate for myself of what I need to be happy, healthy, to have space. And then I can also, I could say, "You know what, I missed that. I'll take total responsibility on that, I missed that." Just to be able to admit a mistake is something new. [chuckle] I would dread that, I would dread making a mistake, and I would ruminate on that the entire time. Now I could say, "Alright, what do I need to do to complete this? I'm not pointing fingers, I just need to get it done." I think at work, that has been different. So I can be honest. It's always respectful of course, but I can be honest about how I feel about a situation and how it will impact me, or impact my organization. Before, I used to just hold it in. Now, I can advocate, I can draw boundaries. Boundaries are something that I never had before, I never enforced. And, again, the sky doesn't fall when you say, "You know what, I have limitations."
LA: This is beautiful, stuff. I'm just... I'm personally encouraged by this conversation. Thank you.
ES: Thank you. [chuckle]
LA: In my own life, in my own perfectionism, I'm really encouraged. We just have a couple of minutes left, and I want each of us to be able to have a closing word. And I wonder if you... Let's just ask a question of each of us to close out. If you were... If you got to... If you had the opportunity to talk to yourself when you were in the thick of your perfectionism. If you could have some words that you could speak to yourself when you were on your couch hiding under a blanket, just crippled by the paralysis of your feelings of syndrome, what would you say to yourself, Erin?
ES: Jesus loves you. You're loved.
LA: Yeah, real simple.
ES: That is super simple. Jesus... I always thought if I didn't perform no one would love me. That's not true. Jesus loves me. Nothing else matters.
LA: That's beautiful. Mark, if you could... Mark imagine yourself after you gave that talk and there's one wrong thing that you could think... [chuckle] You said in the talk amongst 99% of the things that you did right. What would you tell yourself in that moment?
MR: Well, it would be right along the lines of what Erin just said, but I think I would add for me, it's, "You're loved, you won't always get it right and that's okay." And I think that's an implication of Christ's love for us. But it's that extra thing because somehow I think I've entangled being loved with being perfect, or being right. And the freedom of knowing that I don't have to get it all right and I'm still loved, is huge for me, and I'm still working on that. How about you, Leah?
LA: Yeah, I knew it was gonna come to me, actually, I have to answer my own question. I think of myself... If I could just be a fly on the ceiling and look down at myself at 9:00 PM at night when I'm putting my kids to bed and checking my email to see if someone wrote a really important email that I have to respond to right now. What I would say, if I'm my better self; what I would say to myself is, "You do enough Leah, you do enough to merit God's love." I think God's done so much for me, God's done so much for me. He gave me this life, he gave me the Bible, he gave me his son, blah, blah, blah. All these Sunday things. Maybe I don't really think that but all these Sunday School things, I would recite. But I think, "God's done so much for me, am I doing enough for him, am I doing enough to deserve his love?" And you know, the truth is, I don't have to do anything to deserve it. God gave it to me as a free gift. God knows, God searched me and he knows me, and I don't have to keep working to deserve it.
MR: Amen to that.
ES: That's good, that's good. [laughter]
LA: Oh gosh, God bless all of us.
ES: Woo seriously.
Leah: Feel like...
ES: I'm fanning myself over here. [laughter]
LA: This has been some serious therapy, I know, I just feel like, "Go get them some ice water."
MR: I'm imagining a diversity of listeners and some thinking really, seriously, they're thinking, "What's wrong with those people."
MR: And then some are saying, "Oh my gosh, I so get it," right?
MR: That’s our show. Don’t miss the next episode; be sure to subscribe.
LA: And if you like what you’ve heard, please leave a review! We’d love to hear from you , and it helps other people find us. Thanks for listening!
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