Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist: Learning to be Free by Amanda Jenkins (book review)

The title of "Confessions of a Raging Perfectionist: Learning to be Free" by Amanda Jenkins really resonated with me. I have been dealing with pride issues for a few months now and I was told that perfectionism is a symptom of pride. I was thankful for the opportunity to review this book.
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I have NEVER read a more convicting, real book. Jenkins is amazingly open with her struggles with vanity, money, recognition, relationships, parenthood, plans, pride, testimony, obedience, Diet Coke, and happiness on her journey toward freedom. I am a little ashamed to say that I equally share those same struggles with her in virtually every.single.way (except Diet Coke but I have my own to take its place).

Please, please read this first chapter of the book!! I cannot tell you how convicted I was during the entirety of this book. My copy is marked from front to back with arrows, underlines, outlines, stars! In the vanity chapter, she talks about beauty and how "we wonder what it would be like to fix that one thing. Ha. And it's not just cosmetic surgery - it's all the things we do to get pretty and stay pretty." Whoa! I have worked really hard, put in plenty of miles to get my body fat (and weight) down to a really good place. And it's going to take plenty of miles and a lot of sweat to keep it that way. But the Bible is clear that:

"People are like grass;
   their beauty is like a flower in the field.
The grass withers and the flower fades.
   But the word of the Lord remains forever."
-1 Peter 1:24-25, NLT

The recognition chapter struck me because I, like Jenkins, "want to be known." I'm not really the best at anything, although I've always vied to be. I am smart but I didn't graduate as valedictorian. I am athletic but I'll never win a race. I am a good mom but I doubt my kids will have giant accomplishments like being President or Nobel Peace Prize winners (perhaps, but looking at statistics here, people and keeping it real). But like Mary in Luke 10, I need to abide in the attention of the Lord, not rush around like Martha trying to accomplish this or that. "After all, it wasn't Martha's cooking that was written about in history books. It was the Man she invited to dinner."

Parenthood. Who doesn't want to be the best mom? To have the most well-behaved children? Throughout this entire book, I kept thinking of HOW close this woman's story is to my own - she even has an autistic child (hers a daughter, mine a son). Anyway - Jenkins talks about basically being a helicopter parent, wanting to keep our children from the worst - kidnappings, terminal illness. We need not worry about that scary stuff. In the words of Junior Asparagus "God is bigger than the Boogie Man [or other things that scare us moms]."

I read the Plans chapter at the perfect time when it was clear I wasn't going to run in my marathon as I'd planned. The Lord makes our plans; "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11)." Testimony chapter was where my underlinings got real thick! Thinking about "what really draws people to Jesus" and realizing that it was not myself. I should not be trying to "win the approval of people, but of God (Galatians 1)." Here's my admission: I get scared to share the gospel or even talk about Jesus with people who I'm not sure love Him like I do. How crazy is that?! He DIED for me and I can't even go through an awkward moment for Him? I don't need people who don't know the Lord to think I have it all together in this cookie-cutter Christian image - because that's fake! Authenticity and transparency of a changed life - that's what the Lord uses to win people to Himself (because we don't win anyone - we plant seeds). It's OK if I look foolish, as long as I'm real and open about how the Lord has changed me (and He has!).

I didn't think the Diet Coke chapter would pertain to me at all. I don't drink pop! Oh dear, well, I hadn't learned that Jenkins's life mirrored my own obviously. For her, it's Diet Coke and those quiet hours of nap time. For me, lately, it's been candy and those quiet hours of nap time. "I feel desperate desperate that when I don't get it, it affects my mood for the rest of the day." Oh wow. "But I know the whole reason I need to depend on God is because Diet Coke [insert your own vice: coffee, reality tv, reading, exercise, etc] doesn't satisfy for any longer than the time it takes to drink it, and the hour I spend with the housewives provides laughs and gasps, not peace." Jenkins really struck a note with me - I need to abide in the Lord, not in silly worldly things. Those things have their proper place but not as a NEED.

I was impressed with the openness of this book, obviously. I really enjoyed the part in the Diet Coke chapter about fasting - I haven't delved into fasting because it was confusing. She breaks it down so it's understandable. I could go on and on here, people. I need to meet this woman who has written my memoir (or just read her Q&A)! The study questions in the back were wonderful - didn't take very long but dug into Scripture and real life. Too often the questions are easy "duh" answers in books like this but I really dug into my own heart with these.

I really really really really really recommend this book. I've hardly stopped talking about it to everyone in my life - our small group, my friends, my Bible study. It's seriously amazing. I cannot wait to read it over again with a group of women! Find this book at Amazon or other retailers (only $9.99 for Kindle edition as I write this on Amazon).

Tyndale House Publishers has provided me with a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions are my own; others may not share them.


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