My oldest son has struggled with perfectionism since, well, birth. I know this because it is part of his personality. "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree," so the saying goes. And, as God would have it, He chose to place one recovering perfectionist (me) with another who is testing its promises of fulfillment and identity. And God has put us smack dab in two of the most intensely relational situations in life: the home and the school.
How I have longed to help my son see that perfection is not the goal, is self-defeating, is a consuming monster (too strong? I don't think so), and is even undefinable. I want him to be free from the trap of its noble sounding urges. I have learned to see my role as mostly in putting my failures on full display and allowing God's grace and sufficiency to regain my conquered heart and identity (and to speak this out). And when my son gets emotionally intense in a perfectionist battle, I have learned to give him firm hugs and whisper "there is grace being sprinkled over you right now."
But I know that the Holy Spirit is my son's best Teacher, as Charlotte Mason has helped me to understand. He is the very One who knit my son in my womb and who is speaking messages of endearing love and unconditional favor to my son's soul. And I am getting to witness the overflow.
In these past few weeks, I have been privileged to witness some of the work of the Spirit in my son. On several occasions during school when he usually would have shut down because of some missed expectation of his own, I have witnessed him choosing to speak grace over himself. Radically, profoundly, amazingly, when once a bit of frustration would lead to a melt-down of tears and anger, he has taken to saying "no pressure, no pressure" to himself as he breathes and opens his palms. Then he gives me a relaxed smile and moves past his frustration to tackle to matter at hand. I can not put words to what is happening, except that I am witnessing a transformation caused by profound grace. The Holy Spirit is his Teacher. And grace is one of His most important lessons.