Perfection: Unattainable and Overrated
I am not perfect. I know this is no shock to you, but sometimes it comes as a shock to me. Just being real - pride is my thorn in the flesh. I know on a head-level that I'm not perfect because I'm a sinner, but on the heart-level is where I have issues. I find that I compare myself to others (even perfect strangers), and from there I evaluate that I'm either better than them or worse than them. When I compare myself to others (who are also sinners like me), an inaccurate picture of my righteousness is formed, which is why I do it - it tends to make me feel better about myself. But this isn't truth. This is a false self-image based on a lie because any comparison other than to God will always fall short of the truth. When I compare myself to my holy God, well, that puts me in my place, so to speak. No person is perfect, which is why we can't base perfection off of imperfect humans. God is perfect, and He is the true measuring stick against which we are all held. Now, thanks be to God, He provided salvation through Jesus so that I am made righteous through Christ. When God sees me He sees the blood of the perfect Lamb of God covering me - hallelujah!
So, why do I still try to attain perfection when it's unattainable? Pride is the ultimate root.
Pride manifests itself in different ways, such as people-pleasing, arrogance and insecurity (aka reverse pride), to name a few. The focus is that of the self, whether you have a good or bad perception of yourself. When I want people to think I'm better than I am (I'm not) and have it all together (I don't), that's a pride issue. And no one is really fooled by the act, just myself in that moment. We all do this to some extent. No one truly enjoys being 100% vulnerable and airing their dirty laundry for all to see. If people saw us for who we really are they may think we're weird or maybe even hate us. But, God sees us for who we truly are and He loves us just the same because we are His crowning creation. Since, the fall of man perfection has been out of our human reach, at least this side of heaven. But, what I have discovered about myself is that I am not necessarily in pursuit of actual perfection because it is, as I have said, unattainable. What I am pursuing though is the semblance of perfection - a veneer, a pretense. I hold myself to this impossible standard of what I think is the perfect wife, mother, Christian, and so forth. There is no room left for grace, just overwhelming guilt and shame when I inevitably fall short.
Attempting to create and maintain this false pretense takes its toll - believe me. Physically, I'm exhausted trying to do and be everything to everyone that I think I should. Mentally, I beat myself up and allow negative, polluted thoughts to enter my mind, telling me I'm still not good enough. Emotionally - well, let's just say, utter exhaustion and mild to severe instability. Spiritually - my eyes are not fixed on Jesus when all that consumes my mind are thoughts of who?? Oh yeah...me. Relationally - I'm not much fun to be around while I'm driven to this facade of perfection. Sadly, I place just as much pressure on others as I do myself, sending my sweet husband into a tailspin of discouragement when he doesn't 'measure up.' And all this is for who? Not God, since I know Jesus covers my sin. Not others because no one expects me to be perfect and have it all together. No, it's for me. Me...me...me. Notice a pattern? So, how do I break the cycle that threatens to break me?
1) First, I need the want-to. The desire to be humble and walk in humility. I accomplish this through prayer because in my own sinful nature I could never muster up that desire. I pray that God grants me the desire to be humble and the resolve to lay down pride at every turn along the way. I pray that He gives me the eyes to see, ears to hear, mind to understand and heart to receive the ways in which I am holding onto my pride and pretense of perfection. I pray the Lord softens my heart to Him and His truth, which says I can give grace to myself and others because of the grace extended to me.
2) Then, I need to keep seeking Jesus - dwelling with Him. The more I keep my eyes fixed on Him, the less they are fixed on me. I do this through worship and prayer and studying His Word. I allow thoughts of God and His goodness to consume my thoughts. I fixate on His perfection, not my own.
3) Finally, I need to fill my head and heart with Scripture that will combat the schemes of the devil - the assaults he launches on my mind. Scriptures that remind me of God's goodness, love and faithfulness; of my own shortcomings and need for salvation; of how seeking approval of man is foolish and inconsequential; of how perfectly and wonderfully God created me; and, of how I can love others because of how much I am loved by God. God's Word is full of ammunition to combat and defeat the enemy. We just have to utilize the weapons we've been given.
Maybe you're the same as me? You struggle with wanting to be perfect or at least pretending you are perfect and have it all together all the time. We all know not one of us is truly perfect or has all of our ducks in a row, but yet who of us is willing to be the one who breaks the facade, the barrier of this false pretense and reveal the raw imperfections of our human nature? For Christ' power is displayed in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-11). It's vulnerable, scary and really hard. But, at this moment in my spiritual walk with God, I have been refined to the point that I am willing to look at it, willing to dive into battle to break the cycle. Maybe you're not there yet. This blog post resonates with you, but you're not quite ready to look inside and begin to untangle the mess. That's okay. Keep striving after the Lord and pray continually. He will prune and refine you, and in His timing will convict your heart in this area, as He has mine. This is what we call working out our salvation to be more like Jesus (Philippians 2:12-13). As Christians, our eternity is sealed in heaven (Ephesians 1:13) - thank God! Now, we are called to live out our salvation victoriously (Galatians 5:1) so that others will see the hope living inside us (1 Peter 3:15). The closer you walk with the Lord, the more He will call upon you to lay down your pride and depend fully on Him. Let's break our pride before the pursuit of perfection breaks us.
Scriptures used in this post:
2 Corinthians 12:9-11: "But he said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Philippians 2:12-13: "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
Ephesians 1:13: "In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit,"
Galatians 5:1: "For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
1 Peter 3:15: "but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
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