As a professional dancer I was taught how to perform. The reason for the hard training was to be able to showcase and perform high quality dance. I spent hours every day to perfect my dance technique. The harder I trained, the more acknowledgement and approval I received from my teachers. I felt that I finally found the thing I was good and talented at, so I decided to pursue a career as a professional dancer. I was convinced that it would fulfil my heart’s desire and give me purpose for living. I was training very hard and I enjoyed the feeling of accomplishment and finding the thing that brought satisfaction into my life.

I was addicted to this pursuit of becoming a professional dancer. If I didn’t get to practice hours every day, I would feel anxious and stressed. I began to realise my need for approval and acceptance from my teachers. I became dependent on receiving attention from people. I felt that the more skilled I became in my dancing, the more attention I would get from those around me.

‘Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.’ (Galatians 1:10)

I wanted to perform well in all the other areas in life too; in relationships, academically and in church life. I put such high demands on myself to be perfect in all the areas of life that I finally burnt out. I saw myself through how well I did, rather than my identity in Christ as an adopted and fully accepted child of God.

It is no wonder I was burning out in this lifestyle of high expectation of performing well in everything. I would be pleased with myself only when I was doing well in every area of life. I was exhausted, I felt highly anxious and stressed and even my health was suffering. Looking back, I was a perfectionist, not in a good way, but in more of a backbreaking way.

Dictionary explanation of perfectionism: Perfectionism, in psychology, is a personality trait characterized by a person’s striving for flawlessness and setting high performance standards, accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others’ evaluations

The life changing truth for me was that God’s love is not dependant on how well I performed in life. His love does not shift or change in regard to my performance. His love towards me stays the same in times when I succeed and do well and when I fail and make mistakes.

I needed to surrender my life to Jesus all over again! It was a breaking point in my life as I realised that I placed other things ahead of following Jesus. I was seeking fulfilment and purpose in life through a career in dance rather than seeking the Kingdom of God. Through this experience I realised too that there is no life outside Jesus as only He is life!

‘It’s in Christ that we find out who we are and what we are living for. Long before we first heard of Christ and got our hopes up, he had his eyes on us, had designs on us for glorious living, part of the overall purpose he is working out in everything and everyone.’ (Ephesians. 1:11-12)

Life with the Father is about relationship with him, not a performance! He knows us better than we know ourselves anyway so there is no point of trying to perform to Him. I’m also on a journey of becoming more kind to myself too because my Heavenly Father is always kind to me. My new pursuit in life is to follow Jesus whole heartedly and surrender to Him again and again. Also, learning that my identity is not based on what I do or don’t do, but who Jesus is.

I pray for all of you who have battled with perfectionism to be released from performance and know that you are free as God’s child. There is liberty and freedom in the Spirit where you no longer need to perform, but you are perfectly approved and loved by Jesus Christ.

Henna Pinches | Founder of Pinches Pilates