Embracing Our Imperfections
I hate perfectionism. It should be an easy thing to get over. With imperfection everywhere, shouldn’t we just embrace our imperfections? Simple. Right? Yet, my irrational desire to be flawless makes me crazy, unproductive and ill tempered.
Nobody Needs to Be Perfect
Slowly but surely, I’m learning nobody needs to be perfect. It’s an impossible standard. When we expect perfection from ourselves or strive for it when others demand it, we allow the enemy to disrupt the joy, peace and rest God intends for us. I’m finding the more I know of God’s character, the more I ponder His Word. Letting Him inform my soul of my worth, the more comfortable I become with lowering my own bar a bit. You see, when Jesus says, “be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48, HCSV), He does so following a long list of “divine passive” verbs. In the divine passive voice, no agent of the action is identified. The verb is considered an act of God. In other words, when Jesus said, “be perfect,” He fully recognized that the imperatives He’d given earlier were well beyond what we are capable of on our own. They are “acts of God,” gifts given to us by God Himself.
We can have confidence in knowing what God requires of us He has also gifted us to accomplish. A recent reading of a familiar passage has completely changed how I approach lowering the unachievable bar, and has made me smile at my imperfections and missteps a little more than I have before. I could quote verse after verse the Lord has brought to my attention to help me defend against perfectionism, but this verse finally made its way from my head to my heart: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called the children of God! And that is what we are!…Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known…(1 John 3:1-2a NIV).
Did you catch that? We, God’s children, are not even close to what we will be one day. Our potential hasn’t been revealed yet! We are practicing, and God is in the business of shaping, molding and changing us little by little. We don’t physically grow up all at once, so why in the world do we expect perfection from ourselves all at once – or at all? No one looks at their dear child and expects her to walk, talk, preach, sing, compose a sonnet, work an equation, or run a record-breaking mile immediately. We don’t expect some of those things to ever happen, and we love our children nonetheless. In the same way, Father God does not expect His children to become all He calls us to be immediately either. And, He is gracious enough to say so over and over in His word. We simply need to develop ears to hear and hearts willing to believe His voice over the giant lie we whisper to ourselves.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known…
– 1 John 3:2a NIV
When we prefer perfection to progress, and performance over practice, we are missing the point. God could instantaneously change us, but He chooses not to. He intentionally moves slowly, teaching us about Himself and ourselves along the way. He works in this way for our good and to deepen our relationships with Him and others. Even though I wish I could be perfect some days, I shudder to think of who I would be if my wish ever came true. “Perfect people” aren’t compassionate; they don’t see their need for God or thirst for Him like a deer pants for water.
“Perfect people” are self-centered, thinking they can figure it all out all on their own. The lessons I’m learning while leaning on and trusting in Jesus are strengthening my faith and making me more like the only Perfect One – Christ.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
– Psalm 139:14a
Think about it like this: a butterfly isn’t born beautiful. He starts out a fuzzy, little caterpillar and slowly becomes a breath-taking wonder through the wrapping of a tight cocoon, enduring a myriad of amazing changes science doesn’t even fully understand, all the while struggling to break free of his trappings. You and I are the same way.
As we struggle inside our wrappings of imperfections, insecurities, regrets, consequences and circumstances, we grow stronger as we get to know the One who has had His hand on us from the very beginning. When we finally “get it,” we can live patiently while God works, recognizing our worth is still hidden, knowing He has lavished His love on us. We can look long, wide-eyed in wonder and belief, for the binding times and unwelcomed changes are all part of our metamorphosis. Who we are becoming has not been revealed yet, but it will be. And we will be perfectly beautiful.
Joeli Mulligan is a Christian dramatist, speaker, singer and sometimes blogger. Check out her website at: SpeechlessMinistries.org