Perfectionism can make us feel like if we cannot succeed at something then it’s not worth pursuing. It can lead to us setting unrealistic goals. But it also does something else even more harmful.
Black perfectionism creates the illusion that in order for us to feel worthy, we must always display “Black excellence.” It’s used to justify our humanity and whether or not we deserve justice. Perfectionism is rooted in anti-Blackness and in our history in America.
When Africans were first enslaved in America, white captors believed Black bodies could jump higher, fun faster, endure longer and hardly feel pain. This wasn’t just about justifying enslavement. It was about defining us as only physical sub-human beings.
Spiritually, perfectionism goes against what we know about God’s love for us. We are God’s handiwork, as Ephesians 2:10 reminds us, and he created us with goodness. But what should we do when circumstances make it hard for us to feel God’s love because we aren’t achieving what we think we should?
The most powerful thing we can do is to understand that perfectionism does not exist in the first place. When we remember that it is a social construct that damages us, our freedom can truly begin. Breathe in, perfection is a lie. Breathe out, I am God’s best work.
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