Discovering Something Better Than "Perfect"
"As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him." Psalm 18:30 (NIV)
In the beginning of my marriage, I believed my husband Barry was the luckiest man alive. After all, he had married me, a woman who was going to introduce him to one of the principle joys of life: a live Christmas tree.
In my mind, nothing could be more perfect than a live Christmas tree — certainly not the artificial ones he had experienced as a child!
Each year we went to the Christmas tree lot to search for a perfectly-shaped, fragrant live tree. We’d haul it home, put it in the Christmas tree holder filled with water and decorate our lovely evergreen, singing "O Tannenbaum" all the while. Okay, so maybe I’m embellishing a little, but suffice it to say having a live Christmas tree thrilled the HGTV corner of my heart.
There was one thing that made me very unhappy, however. Every Christmas, and I mean every Christmas, my darling husband was sick. The first Christmas, I attended to him with newlywed sweetness. The second Christmas, I tolerated him and brought him soup.
By the third Christmas of holiday sickness, I was just plain annoyed. What was wrong with the man? He was big and strapping and healthy. How could he become so weak and sickly and pitiful every year at Christmas? I began to make snide remarks under my breath like, "Maybe you’re allergic to time with my family."
Sometime in that fourth year, Barry went to the doctor after another round of illness. A specialist had Barry lay on his stomach while he poked lots and lots of tiny needles in his back. As you may have guessed by now, the results revealed that my poor husband is allergic to almost every green living thing … including Christmas trees.
Because I believed live Christmas trees to be far superior to artificial trees, every year we dragged a beautiful, green, bushy deathtrap into our living room.
Because I came to believe Barry just didn’t like the holidays much, I got snappy with him when he was sick.
Basically, because I believed the wrong things, I acted in wrong ways.
My belief about what’s perfect, like my idea of the "perfect" Christmas tree, is often off-base. Over the years, when I’ve acted on those false beliefs, I’ve damaged relationships.
When I’ve believed I have to hide my flaws to be liked, I’ve kept friends at arm's length.
When I’ve believed my kids have to behave perfectly to make me the perfect mom, I’ve left all of us feeling as if we don’t measure up.
When I’ve believed I can create a perfect facade with my stuff, my service and my competence, I’ve pursued goals that left me empty and lonely.
After years of struggling with my own perfection, I’m learning a new way. Here’s the freeing truth I’m beginning to live: Only when I give up my own view of perfection can God begin His perfecting work in me. When I embrace God’s true perfection, leaving the exhausting, destructive weight of my own perfection, I can take refuge in Him.
Amazingly, giving up my own view of perfectionism has improved not only my relationship with God, but also with others.
I’m more authentic with my friends, leading to greater closeness.
I’m more grace-filled with my kids, leading to more trust and better communication.
I’m not a live-Christmas-tree-fanatic anymore, so now Hubby and I curl up at Christmas in the glow of a plastic, pre-lit tree. It’s just perfect. We’re sniffle-free and happy.
I’m committed to choosing people over perfection. If you’ll commit to the same thing, I promise you’ll find something better than your view of "perfect."
Lord, please forgive me for pursuing my own perfection instead of finding refuge in Yours. As You faithfully forgive me, please draw me close to You. Restore my other relationships and help me to choose people over perfection. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 119:96, "To all perfection I see a limit, but your commands are boundless." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 12:9, "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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me." (NIV)
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
If you struggle with perfection, what relationships have you damaged by holding tight to your belief about perfection?
What would letting go of those beliefs cost you? What would you gain?