A jeremiad against the evils of perfectionism.
Stough (Healing Letters, 2010) takes a stern but compassionate look at modern society’s drive toward perfectionism, which she views as a kind of impiety. She initially surveys some of the fears of modern life—a backpack may now be a bomb, or a broody schoolboy might be contemplating a massacre. It’s “culturally numbing,” she writes, “and leaves parents scrambling for alternative educational choices.” The resulting pressures, she says, prompt many in secular societies to strive to work harder than ever and attempt to fix everything themselves. Perfectionism, she writes, is quickly becoming “anxiety’s new drug or spirituality,” but “it doesn’t fix anything.” In fact, she observes, it’s counterproductive, as it makes people think they’re taking care of problems “when really they’re adding to it with its slew of negative side effects.” At heart, she views this reaction as one of pride, and it brings out some of the text’s most strident preaching: “Like Lucifer,” she warns, “your pursuit of greater perfection will lead to the fall of your kingdom.” This well-meaning book aims not only to be an antidote to such perfectionism, but also a workbook to help readers find their way to a loving, accepting friendship with God. As such, she urges readers to take their insecurities and imperfections before the Lord, looking to Proverbs: “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Each chapter includes excerpts from her journal, effectively personalizing her own struggle to overcome self-indulgent perfectionism: “There are only two choices,” she writes, “pleasing God or pleasing self.” Christian readers feeling overwhelmed by the demands of modern society will find Stough’s book to be a clear call for them to take a moment to stop and remember the basics.
An earnest, step-by-step guide for helping overstressed Christians back into a relationship with God.