Perfection: The state of being without flaws, leaving no room for improvement.
Our small house gets under my skin. I have had to resort to cleaning one section of the family room at a time in order to vacuum, as I can never get all the toys and projects put away. Our entry way is cluttered with dripping winter coats and snow pants, unopened mail, and a dried layer of salt on the tile brought in from the streets. We are very blessed with a roof over our heads and constant heat, yet that perfect home with plenty of room and a sweeping view of a lake is out of reach.
That dream of a perfect home, perfect life, perfect self – is not just a dream, but a mythical beast.
It has gnarled horns, festering skin, and teeth dripping blood. It hides in wait, hoping we will not see it, hoping we will be too distracted to notice its approach. But, it does approach.
The mythical beast of perfection comes disguised as dreams of the perfect world, the perfect institutions, the perfect family, the perfect self. We think we are immune to the “grass is greener”, but so far I have not found anyone fully inoculated. We think that if we do this or that, free ourselves from one group to take on the possibilities of another, accomplish that one more thing, we can solve all our problems.
In seeking perfection, we seek safety, predictability, and meaning.
Yet that beast is waiting for us. The more we seek, the more we get pulled into it’s bone grinding teeth. In our efforts to outrun shame, outrun mistakes, outrun being wrong, we run – blinded – right into it’s arms.
And somewhere along the way we push God’s Grace out of it. We make perfection into an idol, rather than embracing the surprises and joy of the journey.
Heather Caliri talks this in a recent blog post, embracing that we each have our own journey, and perfection (like intentional parenting as discussed by Addie Zierman), has no place in it. Rather it is God’s Grace – grace for others and for ourselves, that needs to take the prominent place.
Recently I felt called to read Psalm 119. In it’s 176 verses I found a mirror reflecting that the mythical beast has been close at hand. Even as I seek to do God’s Will and learn God’s teachings, having God’s word be the lamp to light my path, I still was relying too much on my abilities, my life, my connections. Rather than providing God to move, I was ready to cut and run. I was getting scared of not being perfect.
As we seek perfection, either by blindly going forward or finding a means of retreat, we find ourselves leaving God’s Grace out in the cold.
We need the reminder that we are on a journey where always have room for improvement is a good thing…as being on this journey with God is just were we are supposed to be.
Gracious Lord – Help us to rely on You, rather putting the pressure on ourselves to be perfect. There is only a step or two between following You and getting ahead of You, so Lord, help us to follow. It is Your knowledge and grace that is perfect, not our dreams or will or images of how it should be. You have already decided what it should be like, so help us watch it unfold. Amen.