When we’re young, we’re taught to give our best. We’re taught to challenge and better ourselves. We’re taught that the Lord is our strength, that through Him, all things are possible. It is implied that we can conquer anything. And the pressure to go forth and conquer is high. But what happens when we fail? Well, we try harder next time.
If I can’t make the grade, I need to try harder.
If I can’t control my temper, I need to try harder.
If I can’t win the game, I need to try harder.
There’s always next time, a second chance to get it right. This “try harder” mentality can drive you mad. It can drive you to pursue perfection in all things. Sometimes, at all costs.
To strive for perfection can’t be wrong, right? Matthew 5:48 says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Perfection is biblical; to be perfect is a command.
In eighth grade, I kept a priority list posted in my room. To complete the list at the end of each day became necessity. If I failed to cross off even one item, I felt I had failed that day. In high school, I learned to let items roll over to the next day. In college, they’d roll over to the next month. The pile-up of pending items stressed me out more than the to-do list ever did.
Then, on those days that I did complete my tasks, emptiness ensued.
Friends, there is always more to be done. But you knew that already. That big weekend to get things done is now behind you. Unexpected events ate up your Monday. Even if you’ve completed today’s tasks, there will be more to do tomorrow. Still, I can’t help but strive for perfection each day. I can’t help but feel like a failure if I don’t conquer it all. But what I really must conquer is my need for perfection.
It hit me (again) last week that my idea of perfection is all wrong. I measure perfection according to my own standards each day. Truth be told, perfection in Christ is completely different. Jesus, though busy from sun-up to sun-down, did not keep to-do lists. He kept His life simple in that He sought to be perfect, just as His heavenly Father is perfect.
I believe that to be made perfect in Christ is to be made like Him. If we are made to be like Christ, imperfections will muss our perfect day. To-do lists will go by the wayside and we will lose control of situations we never really had control over in the first place. In these moments, a greater perfection is to be attained (only through Christ’s strength). When things go haywire, will we, too, go haywire and try harder and harder to get it perfect next time? Or will we seek God and seek to be like Him in those messy situations?
God will never measure our success and perfection the way we do. To Him, perfection is Christ, and those who are called according to His purpose are already being made perfect in His name, each imperfect day.
Prayer: Lord, forgive me for always needing this lesson. Please help me to strive less for what I value and to instead seek to live for You, and You alone, each day.
Photo Credit: Michael Reavis Photography, Ponderosa Pine