You could say I am a (recovering) perfectionist. I want a perfect house, family, job, lifestyle, husband (which I am lucky to have). I want to be the perfect friend, sister, future mother, daughter, wife, visiting teacher, and church member. My thought process is, if I can be perfect at all the things I think are important, my husband, family, friends and everyone around me will be more happy. I think being perfect will some how refine me and make me a better person, always lining me up with the perfect service opportunities, which will help and make me more Christ like- which is the goal right? It is exhausting trying to obtain perfection and right when you think you have conquered a tiny bit of it, the perfectionist check list grows.
Brad and I were talking a few weeks ago about self-esteem and where we think ours comes from. We wrote down on a piece of paper all of our life accomplishments, things we have done, and things we do that build up our self-esteem. After we were done we categorized these into three categories: “being,” “having,” and “doing.”
The “being” category holds areas of our self-esteem which reflect who we are, particularly at our core. The “having” category holds the self-esteem that comes from having something. It could be having the perfect figure, having the perfect family, job, Instagram profile, lifestyle, GPA, or anything else. The “doing” category holds the self-esteem we get from accomplishing something. For example, we might feel good about giving a great talk on Sunday, or teaching a captivating lesson, or planning the perfect service project, completing an MBA or a doing well in a hard class.
As we talked, we asked each other which category is the most important. We decided that “being” is the most important.
“Having” and “doing” are great and everyone gets self-esteem from these categories, which is not a bad thing. But here’s the kicker – when we were done making our lists, we realized that our “being” lists were significantly smaller than the other two. So if you were to take away all of our accomplishments and the things we have, our self-esteem would be kind of stagnant and pretty weak.
Brad and I agreed that naturally it is so much easier to measure, see, and build your self-esteem from the “having” and the “doing.” Perhaps this is why we tend to focus most of our efforts on these categories. However, who we are at the core and what lies in our hearts is the category that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ care about. When our life is done, what will we be judged on? According to the scriptures, we will be judged on our hearts and who we have become, which is the “being” category.
I think the adversary plays a trick on us, telling us that what we have and what we do is more important than who we are. Part of his trick is giving us a truth and a lie together. The truth is, it is great to plan a service project or get an “A” in biology; these are wonderful things that should be recognized and do make us feel good. The lie is, that these things make up who we are and without them we are nothing.
I feel like we live in a day that is hyper focused on the “doing” and “having” categories. With social media and the internet, these categories are spread and positively re-enforced by almost everyone we know and many people we don’t. This can leave us feeling like our self-worth and self-esteem depends on feedback from others or personal satisfaction from having or accomplishing something or another. This is Satan’s biggest, most cunning, most deceitful lie and it is wrapped and packaged perfectly in a Rifle Paper Co. box, accompanied with a perfect piece of stationary.
I encourage all of our friends and family to make this list and really ponder where our self-esteem is drawn from. If you are like Brad and me, and find yourself having much longer “having” and “doing” lists than “being,” evaluating your “being” list and putting extra focus there will build you up faster and more than any fancy car, perfect lesson, or number of Instagram likes, because who you are as a person will always trump what you have and what you have done in Heavenly father and our Savior’s eyes.