The heart of perfection How the saints taught me to trade my dream of perfect for God's

Colleen Carroll Campbell, 1974-

Book - 2019

An award-winning author, former presidential speechwriter, and mother of four weaves stories of her own struggles against comparison and impossible expectations with those of seven ex-perfectionist saints (and one heretic) who show us how to pursue a new kind of perfection: freedom in Christ. Spiritual perfectionism--an obsession with flawlessness rooted in the belief that we can earn God's love--is the most dangerous form of perfectionism because so many of us mistake it for virtue, or den...y that it afflicts us at all. Its toxic cycle of pride, sin, shame, blame, and despair distorts our vision, dulls our faith, and leads us to view others through the same hypercritical lens we think God is using to view us. As a lifelong overachiever who drafted her first résumé in sixth grade and spell-checked her high-school boyfriend's love letters, Colleen Carroll Campbell knows something about the perfectionist trap. But it was only after she became a mother that she started to see how insidiously perfectionism had infected her spiritual life, how lethal it could be to her happiness and her family, and how disproportionately it afflicts the people working hardest to serve God. In the ruins of her own perfectionist mistakes, Colleen dug into Scripture and the lives of the canonized saints for answers. She discovered to her surprise that many holy men and women she once saw as encouraging her perfectionism were, in fact, recovering perfectionists. And their grace-fueled victory over this malady--not perfectionist striving--was the key to their heroic virtue and contagious joy. In The Heart of Perfection, Colleen weaves the stories and wisdom of these saints with Scripture and beautifully crafted tales of her own trial-and-error experiments in applying that wisdom to her life. She introduces us to such saints as Jane de Chantal, a single mother who conquered her impatience only after her ex-perfectionist friend Saint Francis de Sales convinced her to trade punishing prayer regimens for the tougher discipline of showing gentleness to rude in-laws, rowdy kids, and herself. Colleen describes the battle against obsessive guilt that turned timid people-pleaser Alphonsus Liguori into a fearless defender of God's mercy; the discernment rules that helped Ignatius of Loyola overcome crippling discouragement and distraction; the concern for reputation that almost cost the world the radical witness of Francis of Assisi; and the biblical work-life balance that Benedict of Nursia pioneered after years of driving himself and others too hard--and without surrendering his holy zeal. Gorgeously written and deeply insightful, Colleen Carroll Campbell's The Heart of Perfection shows that the solution to perfectionism is not to squelch our hard-wired desires for excellence but to allow God to purify and redirect them, by swapping the chains of control and comparison for pursuit of a new kind of perfection: the freedom of the children of God.

Saved in:

2nd Floor Show me where

248.843/Campbell
1 / 1 copies available
Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor 248.843/Campbell Checked In
Subjects
Published
New York : Howard Books 2019.
Edition
First Howard Books hardcover edition
Language
English
Physical Description
ix, 245 pages ; 22 cm
ISBN
9781982106164
1982106166
Main Author
Colleen Carroll Campbell, 1974- (author)
  • An ancient lie
  • The struggle for gentleness
  • Stalking joy
  • Braving the waves
  • The war within
  • A passionate balance
  • Pilgrims and strangers
  • From head to heart.
Review by Booklist Reviews

Campbell (My Sisters the Saints, 2012) is a self-acknowledged perfectionist, though she admits that until she became a mother, her perfectionism—and its central role in her lifelong struggle to trust God—had remained hidden. But she then realized that "perfectionism wasn't just a problem for other people. It was a problem for me"—indeed, particularly a problem for women. Yet men are not exempt, being prey to "social perfectionism." And both sexes are potential victims of spiritual perfectionism rooted in the "lie" that "we can earn God's love and work our way to heaven." The extended meditation on perfectionism and grace that follows includes examinations of the lives of various saints who also wrestled with problems of perfection, including Therese, Francis, Ignatius, and others. Interspersed among her profiles of them are thematically related examples from her own life and that of her family. Part hagiography, part self-help, Campbell's latest is a useful guide for perfectionists and others to the rigors of humility and the joy of grace. Copyright 2019 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Reflecting on her efforts to live a life of spiritual perfection along with her parenting mistakes, journalist and author Campbell (The New Faithful) provides examples from the lives of several saints in learning how to let go. For Campbell, letting go means no longer being an overachiever, reducing her obsessive guilt about living a proper life (and what determines such), negotiating a work-life balance, and minimizing her strident efforts to be a people pleaser. Drawing inspiration from saints such as Jane de Chantal, Alphonsus Liguori, Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, and Benedict of Nursia, the author interweaves biblical scripture with stories from her own life as a wife, mother, and author. From these saintly examples, and from the standpoint of a recovering perfectionist, Campbell makes the case that God's love cannot be earned. The image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is used to emphasize the importance of surrendering to God's will and abandoning the desire for perfectionism. VERDICT Recommended for public libraries with collections supporting spiritual journeys and parenting.—Karen Venturella Malnati, Union Cty. Coll. Libs, Cranford, NJ Copyright 2019 Library Journal.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Campbell (My Sisters the Saints), a journalist and former speechwriter for George W. Bush, balances confessional anecdotes with persuasive modern interpretations of the lives of the saints in this enjoyable testimony. Campbell links theological teachings about perfection with the psychological concept of perfectionist behavior. They are not the same thing, she writes, but can help readers to think about connections between Christian teachings and the psychology of perfection. She does this through insightful readings of the lives of seven saints whom she characterizes as "recovering perfectionists." For each, she uncovers the real human who became a timeless role model through spiritual hard work, and also speaks about how those experiences relate to her daily life raising and homeschooling twins. Patience is demonstrated by Saint Jane de Chantal, a "Type-A seventeenth-century French wife, mother, widow, and nun... and also unlikely patron of saint of gentleness," and discernment by an "impetuous" Saint Ignatius, known as the "mystic of moods and thoughts." Campbell is a fluid writer, making her histories and personal anecdotes blend seamlessly, as when she compares her love for the ocean (which she now sees in her kids) as a metaphor for the leap of faith. For Catholics who want to live their religious convictions more fully, Campbell is a good guide to everyday practice, and perfectionists of any religious persuasion will also benefit from this gratifying work. Agent: Lisa Jackson, Alive Literary. (May) Copyright 2019 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

An award-winning author, former presidential speechwriter, and mother of four weaves stories of her own struggles against comparison and impossible expectations with those of seven ex-perfectionist saints (and one heretic) who show us how to pursue a new kind of perfection: freedom in Christ.Spiritual perfectionism'an obsession with flawlessness rooted in the belief that we can earn God's love'is the most dangerous form of perfectionism because so many of us mistake it for virtue, or deny that it afflicts us at all. Its toxic cycle of pride, sin, shame, blame, and despair distorts our vision, dulls our faith, and leads us to view others through the same hypercritical lens we think God is using to view us. As a lifelong overachiever who drafted her first résumé in sixth grade and spell-checked her high-school boyfriend's love letters, Colleen Carroll Campbell knows something about the perfectionist trap. But it was only after she became a mother that she started to see how insidiously perfectionism had infected her spiritual life, how lethal it could be to her happiness and her family, and how disproportionately it afflicts the people working hardest to serve God. In the ruins of her own perfectionist mistakes, Colleen dug into Scripture and the lives of the canonized saints for answers. She discovered to her surprise that many holy men and women she once saw as encouraging her perfectionism were, in fact, recovering perfectionists. And their grace-fueled victory over this malady'not perfectionist striving'was the key to their heroic virtue and contagious joy. In The Heart of Perfection, Colleen weaves the stories and wisdom of these saints with Scripture and beautifully crafted tales of her own trial-and-error experiments in applying that wisdom to her life. She introduces us to such saints as Jane de Chantal, a single mother who conquered her impatience only after her ex-perfectionist friend Saint Francis de Sales convinced her to trade punishing prayer regimens for the tougher discipline of showing gentleness to rude in-laws, rowdy kids, and herself. Colleen describes the battle against obsessive guilt that turned timid people-pleaser Alphonsus Liguori into a fearless defender of God's mercy; the discernment rules that helped Ignatius of Loyola overcome crippling discouragement and distraction; the concern for reputation that almost cost the world the radical witness of Francis of Assisi; and the biblical work-life balance that Benedict of Nursia pioneered after years of driving himself and others too hard'and without surrendering his holy zeal. Gorgeously written and deeply insightful, Colleen Carroll Campbell's The Heart of Perfection shows that the solution to perfectionism is not to squelch our hard-wired desires for excellence but to allow God to purify and redirect them, by swapping the chains of control and comparison for pursuit of a new kind of perfection: the freedom of the children of God.