As a child, what did you aspire to be? What did you set your sights on?
When adults asked you, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Did you respond with “a doctor,” or “a teacher,” or “a businessman,” or “a mother,” or something else?
It may sound strange, but I set my sights on being perfect.
I tried so hard to do all the “right things,” and act the “right way.” I aimed, and achieved, straight A’s in school. Honestly, there was precious little that I aimed for that I didn’t achieve with enough time and persistence…except the one thing that I thought I wanted or needed the most; the one thing that I thought was expected of me; the one thing that I thought would make me acceptable to others; the one thing that I thought would make all the difference…Perfection.
No matter how hard I tried, I stumbled, tripped, and fell, all the while perfection eluded me. Then guilt and condemnation for my failure chased after my heels.
I heard the not-so-quiet whispers like a megaphone in my ear:
“You aren’t good enough if you aren’t perfect.”
“Others will reject you or abandon you if you don’t do things ‘right.’”
“You’ll let God down if you mess up.”
And on and on the lies went.
But that’s just it: perfection is a lie, although I didn’t know it at the time. What a waste of time striving for perfection is.
There was only one who was ever perfect and that was Jesus. I can do my best, try my hardest, but still I will fall, still I will fail, still I will disappoint and let others down. And still, God extends forgiveness, mercy, and grace. Every time.
Recently in my travels, I had the opportunity to visit two different friends, on two different coasts. As I got settled in their homes, they both showed me around their homes and in doing so, pointed out the imperfections…the things that needed improving, changing, fixing. They both pointed out the parts of their home that left a pang of dissatisfaction, and they shared them with me with an apology for my having to see them that way.
Yet, had they not pointed them out, I never would have noticed. I was there to visit THEM. I had journeyed hundreds or thousands of miles to spend time enjoying their company, and all I saw was not the imperfections in need of fixing, but the hospitality that welcomed me in, the generosity of their time.
Yet I could understand and relate. I returned home from my travels, unpacked my suitcases, and began to prepare for my own company. A friend would be visiting soon, and I was anxious to share my home with her. As I surveyed my surroundings, I wished that the foundation repairs could be done in time, that the guest room closet could be cleared out, and the boxes and boxes of book launch supplies could be neatly hidden somewhere besides my husband’s study.
Yet, none of that could happen in time, and it is a testament to the state of my life right now. But what I can do is make myself available to spend time with her. My house won’t be perfect, and neither is my life. But I can set my priorities so that she will see the real me, and know my heart towards her.
It took a long time for me to come to the realization that God neither expected nor required perfection from me. Instead, He made a way—a sacrifice for my imperfection, so that when He looks at me, He sees me through the perfection of Jesus.
And, boy am I glad I don’t have to clean up and be perfect before I can visit Jesus, and bring to Him my hurts, my needs, and my brokenness. He came because I am imperfect, so He doesn’t expect any more from me.
Do you need to let go of unrealistic striving in any area? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section below. You just might encourage someone else today.
Because of Him, #HopePrevails!
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