Gaylamarie Rosenberg and Denise Lindberg spoke to a women’s conference audience Friday, April 30, on how to strive for perfection without feeling guilty about being imperfect now.
“Do you have moments where you feel that no matter how fast you run and how hard you try to do good that it isn’t enough?” Rosenberg asked the audience early in her remarks.
Rosenberg is a BYU religion department and Lindberg is a member of the Young Women’s General Board. Rosenberg described the common pressure many Latter-day Saint women feel to be perfect. “Satan tries to disable us in our effort to do good and be good by encouraging us to feel overwhelmed, over scheduled, unworthy and unhappy. One way he attempts to impede our progress is through guilt,” she said.
She explained that guild can be “constructive or destructive,” but that guild focused on self-deprecation — or never being good enough — is not of God. She also spoke about the importance of turning to the Atonement to overcome guilt and strive for perfection without being overwhelmed, listing three ways Christ’s grace can help in that process.
“His grace enables us to be patient, enables us by making weak things strong and enables us to love others for him and like him,” Rosenberg said.
After Rosenberg’s remarks, Lindberg followed with her own comments about perfection.
Lindberg began by saying that LDS Church members risk passing unrighteous judgment on themselves and others when they misunderstand the Lord’s command to be perfect. “Quest for perfection is not the same as perfectionism,” Lindberg said. She continued to teach that perfection is a gradual process and something achieved over time.
“As a recovering perfectionist, I can speak from firsthand experience,” Lindberg quipped as the audience laughed. “None of us is immune from feelings of inadequacy.”
She recounted her own personal experience of being a young refugee in Cuba. Everything she cared about was taken away overnight, so she left to begin her new life in the United States. She explained that she understood how it felt to be alone, inadequate and like she didn’t belong.
Lindberg spoke about “Patty Perfect,” an idealized image of the perfect wife and mother who “made 20 loaves of homemade bread each week, gardened, never uttered a cross word to her six children … and still fit into her size 4 wedding dress.”
Though this was intended to be a joke, Lindberg noted that it can become a curse to many intelligent women who are striving to live up to the myth of what a good Mormon woman should be. Often the result of this mindset is anxiety, discouragement and depression.
Lindberg encouraging the audience to turn to the scriptures and to Christ for guidance in overcoming those feelings of inadequacy.