The Dark Side of Perfectionism: How to Hold Onto Jesus While Making Major Life Change

A young woman recently asked me, "How far is too far?" when it comes to maintaining purity in a Christian dating relationship.

This is an important question... because the wrong answer can make someone feel like a failure, and even totally leave the Christian faith, and the right answer can point them into a deeper relationship with a loving and merciful God.

I just finished reading the book "The Scarlet Virgins" which is really getting a lot of attention right now as an answer to books like "I Kissed Dating Goodbye." It helped me to understand why it’s so important to point people to an authentic relationship with Jesus, rather than rattling off a list of do’s and dont’s.

See the full video interview with the author, Rebecca Lemke, right here: Purity Culture and Turning Horror into Hope

Whatever it is you set your mind to... when we decide to put God first, it’s easy to get stuck in perfectionism which is such a death trap...

Feeling like we failed.... makes us fail to get back up when we stumble!

We are so mean to ourselves sometimes - tricking ourselves into thinking God’s love and acceptance is contingent on what we do (or don’t) watch, what we read (or don’t read), how we dress, and especially what we do (or don't do). We find ourself clinging to a few scriptures as behavioral law and not considering the context of what Jesus has done!

It’s so easy to stray away from the heart of Jesus when we start taking score on ourselves and our goals...

So when that young woman asked me “How far is too far?” I began by asking her what she believed and wanted... 

  • Do you believe God wants you to wait to have sex until marriage? Does he? She said yes on both counts. 
  • I asked her about the goals with the relationship, and she said she wanted to honor God by making this one different!

  • Then and only then did I give her personal advice based on my own experiences, and I made sure that she realized it was my personal advice and *not God* telling her what to do. 
  • I told her the most kind and loving thing she could do for her boyfriend was to let him know through words and actions this relationship is different, special, and God is really in it… helping him and joining him in guarding that conviction. Because in order to be in a successful relationship, you need to define success, set clear boundaries, and guard it like the relationship depends on it- because it does.
  • Lastly, I let her know the Holy Spirit will help guide her into the pure and God-honoring relationship she seeks, but there is no perfect formula.

  • And most importantly, I let her know that when she fails she needn’t have feelings of shame, or even engage in self-harm. And as Rebecca shares in her book, legalism really can lead to far worse behaviors showing up down the road.

All this echoes Rebecca’s advice on the topic, which she shares in the book:“My best advice is: stay in Scripture. instead of asking ‘How far is too far?’ Pray, listen to your conscience, and ask yourself throughout the relationship, ‘Is this action truly loving to this person, or am I trying to gratify desires of the flesh?’ Once you have an answer, act accordingly. If you fall short, seek out private confession and receive forgiveness."

Rebecca shows how people have twisted the gospel, leaving out sections of scripture and losing context. She takes aim at the prosperity gospel, and I’m so grateful more Christians are speaking out against that, because we all know that bad things happen to good people!

If you come from a Christian background that says God won’t tolerate certain music, shows, styles of dressing, celebrations etc etc, you will love the section in the book called “Unlearning Legalism” and the following chapters which teach you how to view sexuality in a healthy way again, identify areas where culture may have misled you, and read scripture in full, understanding God’s heart.

Want to dig in to this book yourself? It will help you deal with not just sexual issues, but challenges regarding all forms of striving and reaching for a goal. Purchasing the book through my link will financially support this blog and my video ministry, at no cost to you. Thank you so much for your support!

You can find the book here: The Scarlet Virgins

Never stop learning, growing and reaching.

The Proverbs 31 Experiement

Much has been said about the "Proverbs 31 woman" and many have aspired to be more like her. But how? Where do you even start?

Well, I'm starting an experiment to see what happens when we apply these truths to our lives, beginning with our morning routine. I will be your coach, and place you in an accountability group of likeminded Christian women who will be delighted to get to know you.

Often we focus on changing other people (a losing game!) when we ourselves are struggling with the very basics: such as having a solid morning routine, making time with the Lord, exercising, and staying grounded.

The Proverbs 31 woman is actually a saying BY a woman, to her son, a king. The standard is high, but I love a good challenge... don't you? We will take it a step further by examining this scripture, and using multiple resources to create a plan that WORKS.

Now enrolling for the Morning Miracles Challenge

Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
    She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
    and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
    all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
    and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
    bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
    she provides food for her family
    and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
    out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
    her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
    and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
    and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
    and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
    for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
    she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
    where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
    and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
    she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
    and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
    but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
    and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

FERVENT Online Summit

Watch the replay here:

Get the FERVENT Summit Workbook to follow along: 

Get ready for one hour of furious-note-taking goodness! At this free online event, you'll learn the exact insights from Priscilla's book that will:

- Make your prayer life come alive, with bold, strategic, meaningful prayers
- Draw you closer to God and sharpen your focus
- Cause major growth in your spiritual walk
- Equip you to win in spiritual battle (even if you've currently found yourself in the fight of your life!!)

Ongoing group discussion within the Facebook group will give you the opportunity to meet likeminded women and create accountability as we apply these teachings to our lives.

Fabulous Flores - Lake Piten Itza

Guatemala is an intense country of contrasts, and living here has been challenging and beautiful at the same time. We recently took a trip to the island of Flores on Lake Peten Itza, about 10 hours north of Guatemala City. It's become our favorite stop on the way to the Mayan ruins of Tikal. I'm excited to share this itinerary with any of you who are considering a trip to Tikal and who might choose Flores as a leeway point.

Excuses to Go:

- It's the access town to Tikal, an hour and a half away and a fraction of the price of staying in the park
- The second largest lake in Guatemala, (Lake Atitlan is the largest)
- 27 Mayan sites dot the lake, so you can get in a little extra sightseeing
- Stretch that dollar: $1 USD = approx $7 in Guatemalan Quetzales

Where to Stay:

Hotel La Unión
Pictured above, view from room #12. Owned and operated by a local Guatemalan family for over 15 years, La Unión is a simple, clean, budget-friendly option. Seeing that my husband is a slightly "particular" sleeper, we'll say, we loved the super high powered ceiling fan and lake breezes from our balcony room.

In the end, La Union was about $35 USD and well worth it! Excellent budget hotel right on the water. For a great view and good sized balcony at a great rate, we recommend room 12. Get $25 off your stay when you sign up for Airbnb through this link.

Hotel LaCandon

This hotel offers Mayan decor with an ancient Mayan twist, beautiful lake views and a full terrace restaurant. Get $25 off your stay on Airbnb through this link

We were greeted by the hotel owner, Oliver (pictured left) a super kind and fun guy who made us feel comfortable and welcome right away. For the best deal, we chose a basic room with no AC. We also ate dinner at LaCandon, and we are glad we did- why search when you have excellent fare and a view available right away? I ordered kebobs and Rob had pasta carbonara, and with drinks we came out less than Q11. ($14 USD)

Where to Eat

There are cafés galore, and a good selection of restaurants. You shouldn't have a problem finding a great meal in the Q30-Q50 range, and some really delicious cuisine around the Q100 mark.

Try Cool Beans for a good breakfast and coffee at a reasonable price. Fun atmosphere. Thankfully they provided the bug spray! These mosquitos bite early and bite often.

San Telmo is a great place for a super healthy lunch. When you see it lit up at night, you'll want to go there for dinner too. Plus there is a thrift shop attached - fun!

Captain Tortuga's cooks up a great pizza, but if you're ready to take a chance on the street food, it's only steps away by the water. Great people watching.

Purchase a bottle of wine at the local store, or enjoy a drink and some live music in the bar at Hotel Isla de Flores.

Getting Around

The town of Flores is very small, and you can walk all the way around it in about 20 minutes. Getting there is fairly easy but not for the faint of heart. We chose to take a shuttle from Antigua where we live to Guatemala city, and then the 10 hour bus ride to Santa Elena. This was part of a package deal, at Q300 (about $40 USD per person.) Approaching from Guatemala City, we arrived in the town of Santa Elena and from there, we hopped in a taxi for Q20 (about $3 USD) to cross the causeway to island of Flores.

So, did I convince you yet? Get packing! Flores is waiting for you!

Content by Laura Gabriele