What comes to mind when you hear the word, “perfect”?
My first immediate thought is a perfect score, 100% on a test, quiz, or paper. It’s such a good feeling to find your teacher’s colorful pen declaring your paper an A+ for the world to see, am I right?
And then there’s more – a perfect season for your sports team. The perfect date ( which is April 25, of course – not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket. Thank you, Miss Congeniality.) A perfect pair of jeans. Aren’t we all looking for perfect?
So I’m finding out about myself that I actually idolize perfection. In fact, I can kind of worship it. I often feel like everyone else is perfect, and I’m the only one falling short. (Extreme, I know, but real. I can overlook almost anyone’s flaws except my own.) And I feel like I’ve failed completely if I can’t do it right the first time. Sometimes I don’t go after something at all if I know I will fail.
My oldest already seems to have this trouble, too. If he gets a cupcake but it’s missing some frosting, he wants a new one. If someone knocks his careful line of monster trucks off course, it’s grounds for a meltdown. It seems like our obsession starts young.
What’s with the focus on perfection?
What’s wrong with a little rough-around-the-edges, small flaws, not getting it all right all the time? Why do I not expect shortcomings and failure of myself and others?
I think it does have to do with our society. We want picture (or Pinterest) perfect, and we’ll put oh-so-much pressure on ourselves to make it happen.
On one hand, it’s not a bad thing to want to enjoy and create beauty. I think that’s a direct characteristic we inherit from being made in God’s likeness. But where I take it to the wrong extreme is deciding that perfect is the only beautiful, and messy and imperfect are not.
What does God have to say about perfection?
Hebrews 10:14 NIV says,”For by one sacrifice, he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” This verse connects so much to my heart. It’s how God sees me now after Jesus’s sacrifice – perfect, flawless, pure – but also how he’s growing me despite my sinful nature and our fallen world – being made holy. It changes my whole perspective to think that God sees me as perfect.
See also: Deuteronomy 32:4, which says (NIV), “He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just.”
2 Corinthians 4:7 NIV says, “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not us.” This is such a key scripture (this and 1 Corinthians 1 NIV, where it talks about how “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise,” etc) to remind me that I’m not meant to be everything. I’m not meant to have it all and do it all. God balances us out, keeping us humble, and working through us so we can glorify him.
That’s not to leave out…
Matthew 5:48 NIV says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
1 John 4;18 NIV says, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
I can’t really go into these scriptures, because I still struggle with their meaning. It just goes to show that you and I are always growing in our understanding of God and his word. All I can do is trust in God’s goodness, know that the Bible doesn’t contradict itself, and continue to study his Word. (Also if you have insight, send me an email!)
Lately the messages I’m getting from God (not in words directly from him, mind you, but words from others or lessons from situations) is that no one is perfect. And everyone makes mistakes. It’s hard for me to accept this, the way my mind is trained to think. But the more I remind myself of it and embrace it, the more I let go of perfect. And I breathe a little easier, knowing I can create and try and love and give and enjoy without the fear of failing or falling short.
So how do you see perfection? What scriptures help you to keep a level head about it, to see it the way God does?
Scriptures are quoted from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.