Over the past year I’ve had several women tell me they struggle with perfectionism in quiet times. This manifests itself in a few different ways.
Sometimes people will feel like there’s no use having a quiet time unless they can have a long one. Or they might struggle to figure out what to do during a quiet time or feel like they have to pray a certain way in order for God to listen to them. Or they may want to come up with the perfect Bible study system or perfect book to go through.
Perfectionism can ruin quiet times because it makes us not want to have them. In today’s blog post I want to take a look at what it would look like to truth journal for this problem. Let’s do that with an email a reader sent me. Here’s what she wrote:
“I’ve been struggling with my quiet times and this morning God showed me why….PERFECTIONISM. I went through the perfectionism questions with my quiet time in mind.
God showed me some things as I answered each one. I identified a few lies (there are probably more):
- If I don’t connect perfectly with God, I am wasting my time.
- If I don’t connect perfectly with God, I’m not holding up my end.
- I’ll never get this right so I’ll never change and become the woman God wants me to be
- I have disappointed Him…again.
- I should be able to have a productive quiet time because I have been a Christian a long time…what’s wrong with me.
I need to do a little thinking to come up with the truths to address these…these lies are so ingrained in me, it feels like I am trying to turn the Titanic.”
Can you relate to this reader? Let’s take a look at some truths for each lie. I’ll list what I would put for the truth, but I’d love also love to hear your thoughts if you have any other truths (or lies) you’d like to add to the discussion! Here goes:
5 Lies That May Be Ruining Your Quiet Times
1) If I don’t connect perfectly with God, I am wasting my time.
Truth: This isn’t true with other people and not with God either – it’s impossible to connect perfectly all the time. Relationships need both quality and quantity time – some of that time will be incredible and some will be just kind of so-so. That’s life!
2) If I don’t connect perfectly with God, I’m not holding up my end.
Truth: While it’s true that connection problems are always our fault, not God’s, we’re incapable of always being perfectly present with Him. We also struggle with sin and idolatry and both of those struggles will affect our time with Him. Thankfully, God loves us no matter what and knows our weaknesses and still loves us. That’s what grace is all about. So yes, I’m not holding up my end, but I’m not capable of always holding my end. Thankfully, I don’t need to be because God IS capable.
3) I’ll never get this right so I’ll never change and become the woman God wants me to be.
Truth: I won’t do it easily, not perfectly, and not as quickly as I want, but if I keep pursuing God I WILL become the woman He wants me to be – it will just happen slowly over time.
4) I have disappointed Him…again.
Truth: Not surprising – I’m a sinner! I will disappoint Him at times but so does everyone else in the world. Thankfully He expects it, knows it’s going to happen, and still loves me. He knew Peter was going to deny Him, and He still had him play a major role in the church.
5) I should be able to have a productive quiet time because I have been a Christian a long time…what’s wrong with me?
Truth: There may be a number of things wrong. It could be sin or idolatry causing the problem, or it could just be that we haven’t found something to do with God that keeps our minds active and involved. It could also be the time of day we’re having our quiet time. It’s best held during a time when we have enough energy to focus on Him and His Word.
Did you recognize yourself in any of the above lies? If you don’t feel like having a quiet time, try renewing your mind before you have a quiet time. You could either truth journal or journal through some of the questions I’ve written to help with quiet times. Here are some other ideas to help with a consistent quiet time: 6 Steps to a Consistent Quiet Time. If you want some more ideas for some things to do during your quiet time, click here.
Discussion: Do you have any tips for having a consistent quiet time, or are there any other lies you believe that make it hard for you to have a good quiet time?
I really struggle with this, and appreciate this post. I struggle especially with prayer. I have tried so many times to find the “right” way to do a prayer journal….it’s been ridiculous. I finally saw this as possibly the enemy’s way of keeping me from praying more, and it just clicked. My perfectionism was a spiritual problem. Now I don’t struggle so much – I have a system that seems to work for me, albeit imperfect!
Barb Raveling says
So glad you have a system that works for you now, Leanne! I haven’t ever tried a prayer journal but I’d like to try it sometime!
Morgan reece says
Having a regular quiet time is an opportunity to demonstrate my faith to God, to tell him, “I believe you hear and answer prayer whether I feel like it or not this morning. I trust you to open thy word to my heart and to open my heart to thy word.”
As to whether or not I “connected” with God in my quiet time… There is no way that we frail humans can judge such matters. Feelings follow faith, so if I choose to believe that God is meeting with me, my feelings will often reflect that … Yet hormone levels, lack of sleep, nutrition can all affect our feelings of connection with God and others. Moreover, we all will likely go through the “valley of Baca” (Ps. 84:6), that dry spell where we must learn to dig a well to not only refresh ourselves, but to help those who follow after. This is why we must renew our minds… to dig that well!
Dena Fincher says
Amen! I love this.
Barb Raveling says
I agree that it helps to renew our minds, Morgan. If I’m having a hard time concentrating in my quiet time, I’ll often renew my mind first so I can focus. And since that’s also time with God it gets me started with Him right away when I’m having a hard time getting started.
Mary St.Pierre says
When does the next class start?
Barb Raveling says
Hi Mary, Two classes just started last week, but I think you could still get involved with them. Did you see the online classes tab under other resources at the top? It would be easier to catch up with the Taste for Truth class rather than Freedom from Emotional Eating I think. Other than that, I’m not sure when there will be another class as I haven’t been leading them. They usually do them once every couple of months but there’s no guarantee.
Dan BLack says
” This is such an important point to always keep in mind: “Relationships need both quality and quantity time – some of that time will be incredible and some will be just kind of so-so.” I’ve experienced what you said first had. There are days when my devotions (talking with God) are awesome and others when they are not so great.
Barb Raveling says
Thanks, Dan. I think that’s true. So many factors enter in, but time with God is always well spent.
Oops this is me! I get up, make a pot of tea and sit and begin my quiet time. Some days it’s 2 hours later and the time passed so quickly. Other days if I’m finished and look to see what time it is it’s “only” an hour and I feel like I’ve not had a proper quiet time. Same with prayer time that I have after my Bible reading. I tried all the different ways to pray – pick this on this day and that on that day and pray but it used to just make me feel odd but I’d feel guilty for not doing that – you know – pray for everyone. Now I don’t have a prayer list and leave it to the Lord to put people on my heart to pray for.
There were times I used to feel guilty if I didn’t read my set number of chapters for the day, but I might of read 6 verses from a Chapter and the Lord made me stop and work on one verse that got me into a study on it for 40 minutes and I learned so much. But my mind would say “you’ve only done half a chapter in your quiet time”. I’m doing much better than in years past but I do still struggle with a imaginary set of rules I should be following when I sit to spend time with God (and the ever present pot of tea),
Barb Raveling says
That’s so great to hear that you’re growing, Sharon. Perfectionism can be such a struggle, can’t it? I’m fortunate I’ve never experienced it with my quiet times or relationship with God, but I’ve certainly experienced in other areas of my life, writing especially. It’s not fun! So glad God is helping you let go of it!
We’re so human… I too am guilty of having an amazing study and having the Holy Spirit show up in a supernatural way, then the next time I find myself disappointed that I didn’t have the same level of closeness.
I’ve come to adapt the verse, I paraphrase, One day in Your courts is better than a thousand elsewhere… It won’t be perfect ’cause we’re not… but it beats anything else we can do in this life.
Barb Raveling says
Wow, that’s the perfect verse for this issue. Thanks for adding it do the discussion, Floyd.