You’ve seen that illustration with the rocks, haven’t you? If you put the little rocks in the jar first, you won’t have room for the big rocks. But if you reverse the order, prioritizing the important things, then you’ll have plenty of room in your life for the little things, too. I love the imagery, but it’s never quite worked out for me in real life.
I was sharing some of these frustrations with a friend last month, and he suggested that I write out a prayer to express my deepest fears to God. It was a terrifyingly honest experience. I filled three pages of my journal, digging deep into the things that paralyze me, and I asked God to help me overcome.
This week, I listened to a podcast called “How to Finally Beat Procrastination.” As the psychologist described the negative internal effects of procrastination, something she said jumped out: “You may feel that you are a fraud.” This reminded me of something I’d written in my “fears prayer,” so I looked it up. Sure enough, I had written, “I fear that I’ll be seen as the fraud that I know I am.” I was intrigued. What does feeling like a fraud have to do with procrastination?
The psychologist explained that most procrastinators are not actually slackers, but perfectionists. Delaying important tasks is rooted in a deep fear of failure. Here’s how it works: procrastinators wait until the last minute and then scramble to “pull it off.” When the result is predictably less than perfect (or even really bad), the procrastinator blames it on not having enough time. So you see, procrastination is self-sabotage. A procrastinator never has to deal with absolute failure because they never take time to do their best. Hence, the feeling of fraudulence.
This cut me deep. I was ashamed. But for the first time, I understood why my efforts to overcome through better productivity methods had never really worked. This was a spiritual struggle. It was a struggle to believe and apply the gospel of Jesus Christ. God was using my “fears prayer” and this random podcast to graciously reveal my sinful perfectionism. It is a false god that demands my allegiance and delivers nothing but fear of failure and feelings of being a fraud.
This Christmas, I am believing the words of the angel: “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people” (Luke 2:10). “Fear not.” Rather than seeking perfection in myself, I am finding it in Jesus. He was born of a virgin, the Son of God incarnate, and he was humanity’s second chance at obedience and faithfulness. The good news of great joy is that Jesus did it. He lived a righteous human life, always doing his best without procrastinating. Through faith in Him, I am forgiven of my sin, my shame is covered, and my guilt is nailed to the cross. With Jesus as my Perfection, I can risk doing the big things first. I have nothing to fear.