If I waited for perfection, I would never write a word. – Margaret Atwood
I’m about to tell you that you shouldn’t try to be perfect. But I know you already know that. You figured that out awhile back. We all know nobody’s perfect. We know that perfectionism can hold us back from trying good things.
So why am I writing about this?
Because sometimes things need to move from your head to your heart to your whole being.
- Being entirely without fault or defect
- Having all the required or desirable elements or characteristics
- As good as it is possible to be
Well, but why wouldn’t we like to be as good as it is possible to be? Perfect. With all the desirable characteristics. No flaws. It makes us feel good about ourselves.
The desire to be perfect lingers inside us, like a viral strain that keeps flaring up. There’s just something in us that wants to be the perfect child, student, peer, love interest. We’ll be the ones with the perfect marriage. Our perfect parenting will result in perfectly happy children. It’s important to be perfect in our job or career. Who wouldn’t like to be a 10 out of 10 in appearance? Or a faultless role model? Social media image on point. Respected by everyone. Liked by all. (OK, most?) Have it all together.
But we fall short of that. So, we turn to our Christianity. Because Christians have the important stuff together, right? Perfectly Godly. Perfect people who always please Him and always practice WWJD. Loving without fail. Never a wrong attitude. 🧐 Perfect at church and at home. Beautiful inside and out. And definitely always RIGHT. We should have all the answers. And then if we do everything right, God will bless us – and our lives and our jobs and our marriages and our children and our health will all turn out perfect. Without fault or defect.
….. I mean … right, God?
You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. – Jesus
Hang on, folks … let’s recap the first recorded teaching of Jesus in the Bible:
Blessed (highly favored or fortunate) = Being at the end of your rope and losing what’s most dear to you
But … Lord …
Okay, if not perfect, maybe at least pretty good? Just having fun over here enjoying the good life because of my wise Christian choices? With all my good traits on display to glorify You? Making the best of things. Holding things together.
My power shows itself most effectively in your weakness. – God
Well. Processing that.
So: His power does not show itself most effectively in my good efforts. At this point, I’m secretly wondering if a focus on my perfection could be called pride? Or even … self-centered? (ouch)
You might be a perfectionist if … you find yourself defending rather than examining, justifying rather than confessing, hiding rather than bringing into the light.
Let’s cut to the chase. It’s hard to let go of our way and our control until we hit the point where we literally have no capability to hold things together ourselves. And that’s when Jesus says we’re blessed. Some of us aren’t at that point right now. And that’s okay. But some of us are there. You can’t walk honestly through a divorce and see yourself or your life as perfect. Yes, I’m talking about me.
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags. – Isaiah
What are your filthy rags? What fears and failures and wounds and expectations and things that you can’t release are you holding … maybe very close to your heart, hoping no one sees or takes them away? When did you step away from God because you couldn’t be as perfect as you thought He requires? How were you hurt by other people’s ideas of perfection?
Because in clutching our rags, we miss out on the better things. Things like …
- Being honest about yourself
- Comparing who you are to who you want to be and working towards it
- Viewing failure as a valuable opportunity to have courage and try again
- Understanding the depth of the difference between you and God
- Receiving God’s undeserved grace for your sin
- Having a grateful spirit because our incredible God loves you, flaws and all
- Loving more people because you can relate to their mistakes
- Loving people more truly because it isn’t about you anymore
- Focusing your efforts outward rather than inward
In my first blog post, I told you that immersing myself in God’s presence made all the difference in a time of crisis. Now let me take it a step further and suggest this:
Have the courage and faith to ask God for the complete and entire truth about you. Spend time and effort in that pursuit. He will answer. You will see both strengths and flaws, but you will also see a God who loves you exactly as you are right now. With all your uniqueness. Maybe broken … hurt, captive, confused. Failing. But also treasured, loved, sought-after.
David said it like this:
Examine me, O God, and know my mind; Test me, and discover my thoughts.
Find out if there is any evil in me and guide me in the everlasting way.
And Jesus said it like this:
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.
You can be FREE. You can trust God. I trust Him with every single thing about me, the honest, the good, the ugly.
Several months ago, I was beginning to pack things up, reluctantly approaching a huge mountain I was supposed to move (Divorce Mountain). I found a box of childhood keepsakes – things my mom had kept all these years. Congratulatory cards at my birth. A satin-lined baby book that she wrote in. Hand-knitted baby sweaters. My favorite teddy bear that Mom sewed, stuffed, and embroidered. Mother-daughter matching aprons she sewed on the Singer I now have. And I started to cry and I wasn’t sure why. Then I realized:
I have been treasured.
I had forgotten. And I so needed to remember that. Maybe you need to remember that today, too. Because even if you don’t have someone like my mom in your life,
You are treasured by God.
This is the box of keepsakes I hope you’ll begin to open today:
He is ultimate truth who endlessly speaks our language in hopes that we will listen.
He works as a humble carpenter, a king carving beauty out of death.
He washes the dirty feet of his followers, eats with the unlovable, touches the untouchable, weeps with the broken-hearted.
He shares His wealth with His prodigal children, then watches faithfully for each child’s return.
He tears open the sky to come down and reach us … dressed in skin, living in poverty and homelessness.
He creates unspeakably beautiful art, inscribing a death-to-life message in His creation for us to learn.
He chooses a tortured road that twines through mocking crowds. Hangs naked. Dies publicly on a cross. For our very real sins. And freely gives grace and forgiveness to those seeking it and choosing His way.
He will speak any language, go anywhere He needs to, create any form of message, suffer any humiliation, and die a painful death … to reach you with His love and truth.
You are treasured. Just as you are.
How could we think He cares about our perfection?
His perfection is enough. Your perfection is useless. It’s not why He came, not what He wants, not what will make for a fulfilling life, or get you into heaven. Further, it will hinder your view of truth, hurt your relationships, rob you of peace, and ultimately make you feel like a failure.
Where sin abounds, grace abounds more. – Paul
Reminder: What God really wants is your confession, belief, and devotion to Him. Primary qualifications: honesty and humility. (We may have to practice those, people. I am.) He wants to walk alongside you as you entrust yourself to Him, learn His way, and apply it to your life (yes, with flaws and failures). He wants you to persevere in the right direction, remain humble, learn from His Spirit, put down deep faith roots, and grow toward His light. He sticks with you through it.
He can do far more powerful things through your brokenness
than you can do with your perfection.
Come to me, all of you who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke and put it on you, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in spirit; and you will find rest. For the yoke I will give you is easy, and the load I will put on you is light. – Jesus
“Tell God you are ready to be poured out as an offering, and God will prove Himself to be all you ever dreamed He would be.”