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Should You Try To Be ‘Perfect?’ David & Meg Robbins

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
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July 10, 2024 5:15 am

Should You Try To Be ‘Perfect?’ David & Meg Robbins

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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July 10, 2024 5:15 am

Harder, faster, better, stronger.' Are you constantly striving to be better? Perfect? David and Meg Robbins share their growth from perfectionism to grace.

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All right, so you know something I didn't know about you when we got married? What? You're sort of a perfectionist.

I am? I would have never used that term, but you're much more particular about doing things right at on time. And like even when we speak, it's like, what time are we supposed to be done? We can't go one second over.

And I'm like, eh, we could go a couple of minutes over. I don't think that's perfectionism. I think that's just... See, she doesn't like the word. I can tell her that. Doing the right thing. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at

This is Family Life Today. Well, we're going to talk about that today with David and Meg Robbins. Our president is back in the studio. Glad to have you guys back. You guys. Glad another recovering current perfectionist can be at the table.

Here we are. So am I saying that I am? No, I'm not saying that. Is it bad? I'm going to admit it, because even in the bathroom sinks, I don't like there to be a spot on the faucet. I guess that could be more of this in my life. I definitely don't like perfectionism about certain things. Yes. Oh, see, Meg knows. What are David's imperfections?

What is it that bugs him? Well, definitely timeliness, I think, or ending on time when we're speaking, which is good, I guess. You know, if Google Maps is saying 18 minutes, you may need to factor in the parking lot and finding your key time. It may be helpful. Or you might not need to. Are you always the first one in the car when it's time to go? No.

On Sunday mornings, it's probably yes. There have been significant people in our lives where I've watched the husband go to the car and I didn't want to do that and model that. So I don't do that. That's true. That's very revealing. That's funny.

I'm thinking that the light... I've never really thought about why you don't go wait in the car, but that's... But he could. I actually appreciate that. He probably could.

But I could. And I am usually the one waiting. Dave will say, let's get in the car. So I'm usually in the car or the kids are in the car. And then Dave is usually the last one in the car.

I always have to go to the bathroom. It always happens. I was too much information. She's literally looking at me like, seriously.

TMI, Dave. Well, it's always something. I got to get my shoes on.

I got to get different socks. You're right. I know.

You're right. But I mean, if you see our car, it's spotless because... There's a cleanliness theme. It's a cleanliness theme. That's funny. You're saying time management.

What else? I think I'm really hard on myself. And that comes from how actually my initial relationship with God, how I related to him. Oh, me too, David. And so all of this flows... I am not clean.

Meg's like shaking her head when you said cleanliness. I'm like, I know. Yeah. Sorry that doesn't translate to being helpful anywhere.

You're gonna take the trash out. It's super helpful. Yeah. But no, I think a lot of it roots to my relationship with God when it was forming. And he gives so much grace when we're growing like a weed with him. And I think of those college years, I go back to wanting to walk with God right, but yet make all A's and be excellent at everything, which is good. Like there's a good desire and desire for excellence.

That's still a strong desire to glorify God to the best of my ability. Yet when any ounce of control or do I have what it takes? Your identity stuff gets mixed in and it begins to end up affecting the people closest to you.

And your whole family. Because for me, it is a perfectionistic in a performance oriented lifestyle. I'm continually performing.

And when you feel that yourself, that can permeate into your home, into your marriage, into your children, unless you kind of dig deeper into it. It looks like and sounds like you have done that. Or else. I think what you said, I was actually thinking of the same word performance. I mean, I think and maybe that's different.

I don't know. But I think that's probably, you know, where roots of it are. And I have similar tendencies to about certain things probably. And I do think so much of these tendencies do come from our past, you know, and whether it's like, you know, things we believed about ourselves when we were, you know, young, younger, you know, in the teenage years or whatever, or things that we didn't believe about ourselves that were true, that we didn't need to earn anything or, you know, just really resting in God's grace. Yeah, I mean, I can have a tendency even as a mom to lay in bed at night and beat myself up emotionally. I was so good at that.

For years. In some ways, that's the question is how do you find peace? Like you use the word grace.

There's a balance over perfectionism or performance. So talk about that because I know and in our parenting book wrote about just laying in bed almost daily guilt ridden about, you know, our kids and and I was laying in bed sort of like, they're all good. Actually, they weren't. I should have been weren't dude.

But there was that peace on one side of our bed. And I'm like, Okay, how do you get there? That's a question. Still cranking, right?

Yes. I mean, we, you know, our first child is graduating and going off to college this year. And I certainly lay in bed and think about things that I wish I'd done differently or, you know, kind of that feeling of like, we're out of time, which I mean, you know, I know we're not gonna be disconnected forever.

But You are not done. That actually gives me a lot of relief to know that. But yeah, I think I think it's a great question. And I think that as I lay in bed and process those things, because I do the same thing, you know, and I can either take, you know, boxing gloves to myself, you know, or I feel like that, especially even the last month, it's like the Lord is just like, rest, trust me, like, I love him more than you even and you love him and you're, you have invested in him. But it's easy for me to focus on the gaps or the, you know, things that I said that I wish I hadn't said or whatever it might be. And I think we give ourselves too much credit in ways of like too much credit, meaning it's not all about us and our parenting.

It's important. We need to be intentional. We're all about that at Family Life. But we also give ourselves too much credit for when they go bad or when things go wrong or when our kids have walked away.

It's not always us. I mean, we've how many interviews have we had where the kids have walked away, but in the midst of their pain and trial, they've encountered this incredible God who loves them and just pours out his grace. I think even having this conversation, if you relate to those of us around this table who struggle with perfectionism and bringing that into that performance orientation, into your relationship with God, I think a few of the things that I still have to remind myself of, but I really had to come to terms with, but one is shame is from the pit of hell. And now there is healthy conviction and there is guilt that leads to repentance and may we live lifestyles of faith and repentance. It's one of the number one, it's one of the number one things you can do to get out of a performance orientation is just be quick to repent. Christians should be some of the most repentant people on the planet, but yet we end up being some of the most hold it all together.

It depends upon me, you know, type of personalities. And it's like, no. But then when we get in bed at night or when we start performing and getting on our treadmill of going too fast and needing to prove the next thing and measure up to the next level, the phantom level that we hold ourselves to, if shame is entering your head. And let's give an idea of what that looks like, David, instead of like, what's a healthy conviction versus the shame in our head. I mean, I know for me, I was, while you were saying that, I was literally thinking, I know for me, a red flag is when I, when I have the thought in my head, I'm such a bad mom.

That's shame. You know, that's like an attack on who I am. And I think conviction or like something specific, that's probably from the Lord. If it's like, you know, when conviction is something that's more specific, like if I think of a specific moment from that day, that maybe I lost my cool.

Well, yeah, I probably need to go back and apologize and make it right. So if it's something specific, there's usually in that, I mean, what better way for us to show our kids the gospel in action in my own life that, yeah, of course I need Jesus every day. I'm not going to be a perfect parent.

That's not possible. And that's not what Jesus asks of me, but he does ask me to walk in faith and repentance, like you were saying, David. But I think, yeah, there's, to me, the distinguishing factors between conviction is very specific, something I can actually go and, you know, confess, whether that's to the Lord or to my child or my spouse. Shame is more of just this general feeling or false belief about myself.

And I would add on to that as well, because that's exactly how I would define it. I found myself, even instead of saying, I'm a bad mom, I'm a bad mom, it would switch in my head as you. You're such a bad. You always, and think about those words, you? That's like somebody saying that to me.

Who is that? Could be just my own mind or things set over me. It could also be the accuser, the enemy who just wants us to wallow in our own shame.

And you're right. I've oftentimes had to get up, even in the middle of the night or in the morning. She has done this in the middle of the night. Or I've been convicted just to say, hon, I am so sorry. I was so wrong today. But then if you get back in bed and you're still wallowing and then you're going forward, like, and that will probably cause them to rebel and then they'll walk away from God.

And I could go down this whole cycle, you know? And so I think one of the things I've learned to do, I bet you guys have too, is I'm confessing it as you're saying, I'm repenting, God, I feel like I failed at this today. Thank you that you've forgiven me and you know my shortcomings. I give it to you, Father. And I visually see myself handing it to him. And then I ask like, Lord, will you just give me peace that surpasses all understanding and then guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus. And then I stop. Like I take that thought cap and I will not think about it any longer. That takes some time to learn that.

Have you guys done that? I would say that's a great reactive way of when you're in the thick of it. It is that simple and yet it's profound that you're putting what is true in Christ about you at the forefront. You're confessing it and you're putting on, you know, Colossians that, you know, you're putting on who God is, putting on Christ of what is true while confessing and owning up.

We're not minimizing sin there. You know, and first Peter says, you, you get to get back in step with the Holy Spirit. I wasn't in the marching band, but I have a friend that gives the analogy of, you know, when someone gets out of step in the marching band on the field, you don't go sit on the sidelines for five minutes before you get back in step. You just get to get right back in step.

And that's the thing. We get to get the gift of grace to get right back in step. On the other side is there are actually ways you can be proactive in your perfectionism, in your performance to put your security where it really needs to be found. So you just, I loved how you said, and when we confess that ends up and you stop, it ends up bringing a peace.

Okay, Lord, it's you. In the same way, you can be proactive and say, God, what am I looking for out of this? And all of a sudden the Spirit, Holy Spirit can speak and he can use his word and reveal to you like, I'm wanting to be validated as a, fill in the blank, a mom, a leader, someone that contributes to my kid's school.

I don't know. There's a friend, there's so many ways that we look for validation. You know, an insecure heart ends up being a hungry heart. You end up going to look for it in other places. And there's a way that, you know, you're going to have to do it over and over again, going, okay, God, you're the one that set this day before me as a mom in my vocation work and whatever this day holds. I'm going to right now proactively say, God, I am looking to you, the only perfect one, your performance, your opinion, not others' opinions and my performance. And we just get to speak that over ourselves before we walk out the door when you're in the car on a commute and walk into the day going, okay, Charles are going to come. They're going to test where I find my identity.

I'm choosing right now, God, you are enough and I'm finding myself in you. Yeah, I think so much of it is where you're looking. I mean, believe it or not, I did play in the marching band, snare drum. And, uh, when, whenever you got out of step, which happens, you literally have to look down the line as quick as you can. And it's really just a, and you're back on staff because you're not usually out of step.

You're just so it's that quick. And I thought, you know, we've been talking to faith Chang the last couple days about peace over perfectionism. And one of the things that were the themes of those days is where are you looking? Cause when you don't have peace, it's usually, I'm not looking at my leader again, then marching band analogy, you know, down the line. But what you just said, David, so key is like when I am not like walking with Jesus, which means in his word, talking to him daily conversation without ceasing, I get my eyes on other stuff and peace is gone.

You know, whether it's the bank account paying for college, which you're dealing with right now, those are the kinds of things I'd lay a bed at night. And I'm like, I don't have peace. I'm supposed to have peace.

I am stressed out. But when I get my eyes back on us, okay, take a deep breath. There's peace.

He's got it. So, so here's the question. How do you keep your eyes there?

Cause it's easy for me to sit here right now and say it, I can get my car in five minutes and like, okay, I'm right back to something that's going to cause not peace, but the opposite. What do you guys do? You know, one of the things we've been actively doing in this recent season is are we making space to clear debris of the noise of life and actually not just, I'm going to get in my Brown chair in the morning and read the Bible and it stays very frontal cortex and it's, I'm going to academically logically engage in God's word. That's what I do. You know, that's a habit and a rhythm.

Let's do that. And for some, that's where you start. If you're not doing that, open up God's word, say the simple prayer of God, your, your word is living and active. As I read today, would you speak to me?

So start there. For me, like, it's easy to have that as a habit. And all of a sudden though, I'm not really talking with the Lord. Sometimes I'm not really clearing the debris of all that's going on and stressing me out in life and saying, God, I want to hear from you.

I want to bring all of this to you. It can become academic. It can become in your head.

And so first and foremost, the first thing come to mind is what's most recent. And that is, all right, am I contemplating? Am I meditating on his word? Which all that means is taking a piece of his word and dwelling on it over and over again, letting it saturate deeper. And there's reasons he brings us to different parts of his word. It's going to apply to spaces in our lives that we're processing. I'm really good to read a chunk of scripture and journal about a little bit. Am I willing to sit with him and go, God, your, your word is living and active and I need it today. Let me dwell on this, this passage of scripture a little longer.

What part of my life do you want to apply this to? I think one of the things that I remember, Dave, I've shared this before, but it always comes to my mind with this topic is you preaching, talking about casting our cares upon Jesus and how you are in church preaching and you took the fishing, you had a fishing pole on stage. This is a long time ago.

I know. And I, because I'm a visual learner, I probably remember the visual of it. You took the worry, you hooked it on the hook and you cast it. Like you cast it. I hope it didn't hook anybody, but you cast it off the stage. And what was the scripture you, was that the scripture you used?

No, it was first Peter five, cast your cares on him because he cares for you. And, and I remember having this thought, I'm going to put worry on this little hook and I cast it out. And then I had, I can't, I was somebody, a volunteer.

I said, Hey, when it comes out there, take worry off and put peace. And when I reel it back in. So that was the idea. But what happened, what you said, and I thought, Oh, this is so true because you cast it, you give him your worries, you give him your shame, you giving everything, but then you're like, but then you have to cast it again. Yeah.

It's like all day you're casting. Cause you put worry back on there and you're like, yeah, it covers up the peace of God, but the peace is available. Yeah. Sure. What is the thing that you worry about that you've, that's a real hard one. What is it? Go ahead.

Tell everybody you tell it. I mean, it's financial usually, right? When I was where you are, it was college.

Yes. And now I look back and go, wow, God provided. We could tell the rest of the program miracles of how he provided literally dollars to pay for college. I just have to share this because this was so funny. We were in Indianapolis a couple of weeks ago doing a weekend to remember marriage.

You don't have to share that. So we're walking down the sidewalk. We had had dinner after Saturday night. We have dinner.

There's a homeless guy on the street with his dog. And so I bend down and I know I have some cash in my pocket. So I pull out a $20, $20 and put it in his bowl first time. And Dave is like, really?

You couldn't put a one in there. You put $20 in this thing. This is where Dave's a little more like, he's, he's got the money system now. This is his perfectionism. And so I'm like, I hit the, you know, it just came out like, that would be a great thing.

And the next day, the long story short, and there's a lot of details to it. Just some guy randomly, I don't even know who it was, comes up with an envelope. I didn't even know like, is this guy with, with the hotel? He just hands me this envelope. I didn't even look at it till later.

This has never happened in 35 years. I open it up and there are five $20 bills in it. I don't know who it was.

There's no name on it. There's nothing. Of course he is looking at me like, there you go. No guarantees. He guarantees us his presence. We don't give to get. No, but I just chuckle because for me, it's like, look at what God did.

I love it. You know, I do think there's that practical minute by minute, even daily ongoing reality of, okay, what does it look like to, to not be overcome with our perfectionism? And then you pull back up right where we started at the beginning of this time of, okay, our own stories, like how did this get rooted in what, what makes it, you know, the kids for Meg and finances for Dave and whether I'm a good enough leader or not for me. And you know, I think about a time when the Lord started really uprooting this for me and it was in my late twenties, early thirties, and he used a variety of things, but one of the areas was second Corinthians five for Christ's love compels me. As a result, I no longer live for myself, but I live for the one who died for me. And then it goes on about, we become his ambassadors, et cetera, of getting to represent his kingdom. But Christ's love compels most, you know, some translations compels is too weak of a verb really is controls, you know, his love. And if you go look into that, it's kind of this ongoing present tense love today, compels and controls me in such a way I'm no longer going to live for myself, I'm gonna live for him. And I just remember very practically as I was just journeying into this deeper, God bringing some of the idols I had in my heart to the forefront in this and just going, David, if you're going to keep living a life that is going to be glorifying to me, it's not just believing the right things and believing my love for you. It is being a lover of it in a way that you're living it and you're Christ's love. Not just, I believe it helps me live for him, but no, I experience it in a way that I can't help it.

And so since perfectionism, grace is one of those areas where you go, it's hard for a perfectionist to experience grace. It's hard for a mom after a really hard day with kids where you lose it or a dad that comes home and this, you know, this was kind of me last night I came home and I just, we'd gone to a kid's sport after work and I just conked out. And there were kids that had needs and I just, and I mean, men walked in late and she was like, wow, he's like really out. I think I remember hearing that and I'm going, and then you go to bed, you mosey up to bed. It was just one of those nights I just fell out and you feel that guilt of I totally disengaged, you know, like, and I was processing this recently of, okay, not just being a believer of needing to depend upon his grace, but a lover of depending on his grace and not every now and then all the time, present tense, I get what I do not deserve all the time from God. That's the way I have relationship with him. And I get to wake up today after an evening last night of being a little overly disengaged than my preference and walk into bed and some guilt going, that's not who the dad I want to be.

Okay. There's grace to cover it, confess it. Now out of grace, who do I get to walk into today?

I'm getting what I don't deserve today. I get the spirit of God to empower me today to go live out who he has made me to be. And so often we want to take on the performance ourselves. We need to go measure up. We need to go step into it. And it's like, ask the spirit by his grace, cause he's, he's given you grace to forgive your sin and he's put into you his spirit to give you power. There are divine resources for us to step into and to go, God, would you today empower me? And we get to pray that prayer over it.

We get to cast that real too. Okay. We take the worry away and in the power of your spirit, Lord, give me peace. And I'm going to go live into that today.

That's good. I think one other side of perfectionism that you know, you said earlier on and that we often take too much credit when our kids are struggling or walk away or wrestling with their faith or whatever. But I think we can also, I mean, this is kind of, I think where the false belief that we actually are in control, you know, that's kind of sometimes what leads to perfectionism.

And I think that the flip side of that is that we can like when they're doing well, think that that's because of something that we're doing. And it is this really hard tension because we do want to be intentional and we do want to pour into our kids and point them to Jesus and we're called to that. And yet, you know, looking at God, he is a perfect parent and yet not everybody chooses to follow him. So we don't, we don't control the outcome.

They do make their own choices. And yet I think sometimes that's can be the driving factor that when we, you know, we start to believe that it does rest on us, you know, and we put this pressure on us, which leads to shame and we forget the grace that we need, that David's talking about. And we just need to be lovers of what he offers us in that, you know. So let's hit some application as we close.

What could this look like? We've given a lot, but as we close, anything that you would really encourage parents to do? I mean, I just come back to just a lot of prayer and just continue, whether it's casting our cares, the things that are worrying me, the shame that I might feel at night, just continuing to offer those things to the Lord. And also just sometimes I literally picture myself like picking up my child, even if they're 17 and giving them into the hands of the Lord.

He already has them, but I have to remember that. And I have to like go through that motion in my mind, just knowing, okay, Lord, you love them and you've got this. And whatever I mess up or, you know, things that I say, I wish I didn't say, like, you're so much bigger than that. And you're writing a story that is going to include the mistakes that I made.

And that's okay, you know. I do that exact same thing, Meg, especially as they become, I have found as they become adults, sometimes I worry more because I am so out of control and Dave and I both have no control. So I visually actually see myself placing each of them and my grandkids and my daughter-in-law's before him.

It's the only way I can get back to sleep because I know he has them. Another thing I would say is know the scripts that you tell yourself and tell your spouse, tell close friends at a certain point, tell your kids like this is, these are scripts I play in my head and most of them can be scripts of shame that have shaped us throughout our lives. You know, I couldn't be the elite athlete like my dad, but man, I could be the leader like him. That's how I'll be a man. Let me go be a leader. And that ends up taking an over perfectionistic outplay of my life.

And it's good to go. I mean, I said it to confess honestly, when you're playing those scripts. I remember to me, I was like yesterday, I go, I feel like I'm kind of comparing to this certain people or two and I'm watching myself posture. Like I got to, I'll start playing that script. I got to confess that.

I want to confess that to you. Or there was a picture sent from a senior event that we just had. And I go, Oh, I look really old in that picture.

But I mean, it's funny, but at the same time, it's like, no, that that's real. That script gets embedded. If we don't go grab that quick, bring it into the light. If you have a spouse that's one of the gifts to bring that the scripts you play, they know your scripts and spouses.

Let's don't take advantage and manipulate when someone comes with a tender thing that's recent going, okay, I could see this end up playing my script where I get unhealthy again and I start becoming perfectionist. I think too, David and Meg, that would be a great conversation to have carefully with your high schooler. Like, Hey guys, I don't know if you've ever done this, but I have these scripts in my head and you could say one of them that would be appropriate. Have you guys ever struggled with that? Wouldn't that be a great conversation?

Because they would say like, wait, you guys struggle with that. And so to be able to, as a family to say, how can we pray for each other? I love the idea and the thought of that happening around dinner tables or bedtimes. That's a great idea. Why don't you try that with your teenager or teenagers this week?

Maybe even tonight, if you have time between homework and sports practice and dinner and a million other things going on, I'm sure, but be vulnerable with them. It might be the most memorable thing in their week, something that sticks with them, maybe even for a lifetime. I'm Shelby Abbott and you've been listening to David Ann Wilson with David and Meg Robbins on Family Life Today.

You know, we've been talking about perfectionism and earlier this week we had on Faith Chang who wrote a book called Peace Over Perfection. This book is going to be our gift to you when you give to the Ministry of Family Life. You can get your copy right now with any donation by going online to and clicking on the donate now button at the top of the page. Or you can give us a call with your donation at 800-358-6329. Again, that number is 800, F as in family, L as in life, and then the word today. Or feel free to drop us a donation in the mail if you'd like.

Our address is Family Life 100 Lakehart Drive, Orlando Florida 32832. Now tomorrow David and Wilson are back with Dr. Gary Chapman and Laurel Shaler. Laurel is going to recount her journey through failed adoptions and the unexpected blessings of adopting her children. That's coming up tomorrow. We hope you'll join us. On behalf of David and Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a donor supported production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-07-10 07:29:25 / 2024-07-10 07:42:16 / 13

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