It’s a tall order when we try to be perfect. All of us say the same thing in one way or another, “ I am not trying to be perfect, but there are things that are important to me.” I agree that its important to have standards and expectations for ourselves, but are we really grasping the essence of what it means to realize we are not perfect?
I started to think about this and the one thing that stood out to me is that I accept the areas where I don’t do well. I know that it will take time to develop those areas so I have learned to be easy on myself. An example would be exercising and eating healthy. My desire is to be healthy and it’s frustrating when I mess up, but I don’t lose sleep over it. I have struggled with my weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle according to the standards that I set for myself for years. I wont give up the fight, but again….not gonna lose sleep over it. Now on the other hand, I do consider myself strong in judging a person’s character. I know occasionally I may be a little off but generally experience coupled together with my spirit, usually gives me a good pulse on people. When I am blindsided by someone, sometimes I think the pain of not seeing the hurt coming, hurts more than the actual hurt. I beat myself up wondering, “how could I be so foolish.” I think many of us can share in this experience across a broad range of situations. We lament thinking, “How did I not see this coming?” Well that is an example of the imperfection within ourselves that we do not embrace. We are not all knowing.
There will be times when we miss the mark, and sometimes regardless of how much we try to ensure success, things still may not go our way. With our best efforts and with all our experience and spiritual awareness, we may not see “it” (the error in judgment, accident etc.) coming. Even more difficult to accept, sometimes others saw “it” and we did not believe them so now we feel like we have the proverbial, “egg on our face.” We then proceed in life safeguarding everything related to that failed area, to be sure that we don’t miss the mark again; we seek to achieve “perfection” in that area. Now, although it’s important to learn lessons from past events, we must understand that even our lessons learned are not impervious to imperfection.
Life still happens and life doesn’t consult with us before it happens. The areas of our lives that we feel are naturally strong, or that we developed to be strong are still susceptible to error. Here is the thing that we must remember: We have God. Jesus died on the cross, because with our best efforts, we would still make mistakes. His death on the cross was not to tell us to stop trying, but rather to let us know that He is our eternal safety net. He is always there to catch us if we let Him. He holds no grudges and regardless of how many times we fall he is there to help us up again.
The need for perfection – even in one segmented area of our life -can be the very thing that keeps us stagnant, paralyzed in fear, and negatively impact our judgment. The need for everything to be perfect can negatively fuel pride, increase stress, increase self-condemnation, decrease gratefulness, and most importantly, shut our ears, eyes, and hearts from operating according to God’s purpose. As parents – and I’m guilty of this- wanting our kids to be perfect is blurred together with our kids perfection also being a reflection of our parenting. Fundamentally, we want to be perfect parents so we can have perfect kids. I have been working on how to balance having healthy expectations for my son when it comes to his schoolwork…well actually every area of his life – emotional, health etc- if I’m honest. I look at his progress as a reflection of my parenting. I want him to do his best but I realized that I focus more on where he is falling short than where he is excelling because I thought this would help him improve. In addition to constantly pointing out his “areas where he needs improvement” there is also a voice saying “Aniqua, these are the areas you are failing as a parent.” Its gotten so bad, I have been beating myself up even if his room is messy, I’m like, “yup, its my fault”. All these frustrations and feelings of falling short, don’t help, but rather illicit more stress, anxiety and self condemnation within myself and within my son. Now both of us are struggling feeling like we can never reach perfection. Writing this blog is revealing this to me as I am typing. Whats truly important is that my son is learning and growing and coming into his own everyday; that I am blessed to be here with him engaging in his life and growth; that he understands everything in life wont be perfect, but we always have opportunity to improve; and that I love and accept him regardless of what he does. What’s important is that I realize that I need God to be a good parent and that God is watching over my son also.
So, it’s important that we embrace the understanding that we are imperfect yet we serve a perfect God. Our imperfection is just proof of our humanness. There is no single area in our life that we should tackle without God. We should never be deceived to think that even if we are called Dr. in a field, we are exempt from error; but rather, we should trust in our God who helps us and never leaves us regardless of how imperfect we are. Also remember, in some cases it’s the imperfection that brings about the blessings; It’s the pain that births the purpose; It’s the humility of understanding that we are imperfect that yields our reliance on God in all things; God loves us with our imperfections; when we detest our imperfections then we are not fully loving ourselves.
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (NIV)
4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
2 Corinthians 12:10 (NKJV)
10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong
Romans 8:1 (NKJV)
There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit.
Proverbs 24:16 (NKJV)
For a righteous man may fall seven times And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.