An aquaintance approached me a few weeks ago to speak about adoption. She and her husband had brought home a sweet little 2 year old from China. They had been home for a month and she was tired. As we talked I shared with her how exhausting the first months home were with our toddlers. I shared how they were like mobile newborns ..into everything yet completely unaware of danger. I recalled that they were sweet times, but oh so busy. I felt like my house constanly looked like Toys R Us had thrown up in it and I don't even remember putting food on the table, but I must have because nobody starved.
As we talked I could see her relax and tears welled up as she had found someone who understood that while a new addition is a happy time it can also sap you of your physical and emotional reserves. She told me that she was so happy she had come to me and that she had been hesitant to because I always appeared so calm and put together. Oh, did that ever make me sad. I am anything but calm and put together. I am not perfect and I do not have a perfect family. I make so many mistakes each day. each, minute, each hour. I love my children to pieces and I think they are all wonderful, yet they are not perfect either. We all have our moments...some days we have many, many moments ;o)
There is a song that was played wuite a bit on Chrisitan radio quite a bit this past summer. The refrain says,
"got a couple dents in my fender
got a couple rips in my jeans
try to put the pieces together
but perfection is my enemy"
I have found that perfection is my enemy but more than that I believe that perfection is from the enemy.
There is a lot of pressure from the world to be perfect. Sadly, the expectation for perfection is also very prevalent in Christian circles.
This goal.. this desire.. this push for perfection robs everyone of of joy, peace, and purpose.
1. Perfectionism says our value is what we do and how well we do it. Perfectionism says we are accepted or rejected by the merits of our works. It says that when we are perfect God loves us and when we fail He loves us no more..
God says in Romans 8: 38-39- "For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,]neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
He loves us because He sees us through the righteousness of Christ. His love is unfailing and never changing. He wants us to let go of our human expectations so He can use us for His Glory. He wants to use us. He has a plan for each one of us and He is not waiting for us to have our "act together ". He is ready to begin and He will use us faults and all. He loves us to the uttermost and is advocating and praying for us.
2. Perfectionism takes our eyes off of Jesus. When we are striving for perfection suddenly our measuring stick becomes people's approval or disapproval. This makes us fearful . We also begin to measure ourselves against other people. It paralyzes us. We don't want to reach out to others who we perceive may have nicer homes, more well behaved children, better cleaning organizational skills. We know that God is calling us to minister in this area and we will start just as soon as we have our lives in perfect order..
God says in Colossians 3:23-
"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men," When we have our eyes on Jesus suddenly it doesn't matter if our couch is threadbare. It matters that the Lord wants us to invite that someone over and minister to them. When we have our eyes on Jesus it no longer matters that we aren't the best cook if he asks us to bring a meal to someone in need. When our eyes are on Jesus we don't have to have the perfect words to say to someone grieving. We can go and and He will give us the words. We are working for Jesus. He loves and us and will never forske us. he will be there with us and pick us up when we fall.
3. Perfectionism places unfair expectations on those around us. When we are trying to acheive perfection we are very aware of the people around us and their shortcomings. We begin to hold those around us to a higher level. We expect our children to uphold a perfect image. We suddenly know how everyone else should do things. If they would just do it our way..or this way..surely we know the right way..We become critical and sharp eyed.
God says in Philippians 4:8,
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things."
I love the whatsoevers included in this verse. God knows it is our nature to be critical and to focus on the negative. He encourages us to reflect on the lovely in the timiest of ways. He encourages us to look for the good. He encourages us to look for any virtue and to meditate on those things. It really is the opposite of perfection. It's looking for the lovely in imperfection.
Which is what He does for Believers.
He chooses to see Jesus' righteousness and perfection in us.
He loves us. He wants to use us. He wants to bless others through us.
The enemy wants us to believe that God is a harsh taskmaster that is never satisifed with us. That is not what the Word teaches us. Romans 5:8
"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Recently our Pastor gave a beautiful insight to the verse in Matthew 11:30 which says,
"For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."
He shared how the yoke was built for two oxen. They pulled together and worked together. Jesus is pulling alongside us. He is right next to us and with us through each step. That thought is so precious to me. He is not standing over us with a whip driving us mercilessly. He is walking with us carrying our load with us and making it light.