Perfect daughter, sister, friend. Perfect student, dancer and artist. Perfect body, face, clothes. Perfect christian, perfect life. Altogether perfect. That’s what I thought I needed. Perfection, the unattainable goal, the unspoken expectation.
Perfect so people will like you. Perfect so you can live with yourself. Perfect so God will love you. Perfect. Just be perfect.
The whispers turn into screams. The desire an expectation. Before you know it the striving has overtaken. Yet you fail at every turn.
Perfect so people will like you. Perfect so people will want to be your friend. Perfect so people will love and accept you. Perfect so guys will like you. Perfect so a team will want you. Perfect so you’ll be successful. Perfect. Just be perfect.
I saw perfection in people around me. That’s all that was shown, all I had could see. Perfect lives and legs. Perfect scores and successes. But, like most people, I could only see imperfections in myself. I saw that people tend to like people similar to themselves. So I subconsciously decided from a young age that people would only like me if I was perfect like them.
Perfect so you will like yourself. Perfect so you can sleep at night. Perfect so you can stand tall and not cower in shame. Perfect to avoid having to beat yourself up for your many failures. Perfect. Just be perfect.
I couldn’t wrap my head around the idea that one could love them self after and despite failure. I couldn’t possibly like myself if I wasn’t pretty and smart and talented and perfect in every way. My self-set expectations meant to lead me to perfection loomed higher and higher with each passing day. But the more I looked up at them, the faster I fell, the further I failed. I could never live up to myself.
Perfect so God will like you. Perfect so He will choose you and use you. Perfect so He will love you. Perfect. Just be perfect.
God is perfect. I’m supposed to be like Him. So shouldn’t I be perfect? Perfectly kind, gracious, joyful and strong. Perfectly patient and loving and put together. That’s what God wants, right? Anything less is a disgrace, a disappointment to Him.
These are thoughts you may have. Lies you may believe. Actually, let’s be real, they’re lies you do believe. But I have some Truth for you. Truth for me. For all of us.
You were not made to be perfect. You were made to glorify God and love Him forever. If you were perfect you would have no need for a perfect Savior. You are not expected to be perfect. God knows that your flesh is strong and you will fail. He knows and that’s why He bestows grace upon you, upon us all. Perfection is not a prerequisite for His love or attention. Our Father loves us in our imperfections. He uses us in them.
Last week, when wrestling with my own perfectionism and my fear and discouragement at my inability to be perfect, my therapist spoke some freeing Truth.
“God doesn’t send perfect people, because perfect people aren’t helpful people. Perfect people are scary people because others can’t relate, can’t understand. Perfect people cause others to stumble, to feel like they’re doing it wrong, they’re not enough. Do you want people to feel that way? No. Of course not. Imperfect is better. Unqualified and imperfect, but empowered and sent is better than perfect.”
Woah. Amen. Yes. Wow. All the praise hands to that TRUTH. Imperfect is better than perfect.
Look through the Bible. Does God ever use one perfect human? David. Adulterer and murderer. Jonah. Hid from God. Thought he was better than the Ninevites. Moses. Didn’t believe God could use him. Paul. Persecuted Christians. Esther. Faced fear and doubt. Peter. Proud. Denied Jesus three times. And the list could go on and on. But name one person in the Bible saved by grace and living for the Lord, that was not used. Name one person that was perfect. You can’t, because they are all imperfect. But they were all perfectly used, perfectly loved.
You see God chooses the broken, the failures, the flawed and scarred because those are the people, we are the people, who are needed. We don’t need more synthetic perfection in the world. We need more authentic Jesus-lovers. We don’t need more people who are going to cause others to feel like they’re not good enough. We need more people who will look past each others failures and into eyes and say, “You are magnificent.” More people who will live unashamedly in their imperfections, knowing that Christ made them perfect on the cross. That is what the world needs.
You and I think we want to be perfect. We think that perfection is best. But I’d rather be imperfect in the hands of a perfect God any day.
Loosen your grip on perfection. Lower your expectations. Let your mask fall. Let people in. You’ll find that they’re imperfect just like you.
So thank you for not being perfect. Thank you for failing and falling down. Thank you for making mistakes and messing up. Thank you for sinning and repenting and asking for forgiveness. Thank you for not being awesome at everything. Thank you for sharing your imperfections and letting others love you despite them. Thank you for having bad days and letting people see those days. Thank you for being imperfect.