To The Woman Struggling with Perfection
[ per-fek-shuh n ]
the state or quality of being or becoming perfect.
the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art.
a perfect embodiment or example of something.
a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.
the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait.
the act or fact of perfecting.
Hey My Friend,
Are you struggling with perfection? I am. It leaves you paralyzed, doesn't it? We are trying to be the perfect mother, wife, friend, employee, church-member, and human, and we fall short again and again. It is hard to live with a drive that says you must be perfect. I am right there with you. Maybe we can figure this out together and conquer the wounding message that says perfection is the goal. Let’s talk about it . . .
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
Where did we get this drive for perfection? Maybe it's a wounding childhood message we heard and embraced. A message that said, "If you're not perfect, then you're not good." Maybe it's a cultural thing. After all, we are bombarded with perfect looking images day in and day out. Each day, across our eye-gates, come perfectly curated lives that leave us feeling less than ideal.
BUT CAN I BE HONEST FOR A MINUTE?
Part of me likes the drive for perfection. I do well in my work and generally, excel. My home is neat and tidy, and I homeschool with ease because my thoughts are relatively organized. What is something that you are good at? Take a minute and encourage yourself. Perfection isn't all bad. I'm applauding you, My Friend!
THERE HAS TO BE BALANCE.
However, it becomes detrimental when our strive for perfection replaces everything else. It hurts and hinders God's plan for our lives when we fail to start something or take a step of faith because we are afraid it won't be perfect right off the bat. And worst of all, perfection paralyzes us when it takes our eyes off of HIM who is perfect and puts it on our own strength and ability.
So how do we conquer this? How can we cross the hurdle of perfection into grace freely given? I want to share with you a personal Bible study I did a few months ago, and maybe that will provide us with some answers.
MY LOW POINT & WAKE UP CALL.
I was sitting in Starbucks in what was a very dark season of my life. I was battling depression and anxiety and was feeling flawed and incomplete. Nothing I was doing was "fixing" the poor mental health I was fighting at the time. Sitting in that Starbucks, I closed Google and all the well-meaning advice and opened my Bible. What did God have to say about perfection, and how could I finally conquer this drive that was taking me down a very dark and final path?
This was the study that gave me the answers.
The Old Testament & Noah
When doing a word study, it's important to note the first time the word is used. In the Old Testament, you find the first use of the word perfect in Genesis 6:9.
"This is the genealogy of Noah. Noah was a just man, PERFECT in his generations. Noah walked with God."
The word perfect in the Hebrew is tâmîym. It means:
Complete, whole, sound, entire.
In accord with truth and fact.
Noah was just and righteous. He was complete, wholesome, full of health, and integrity. He agreed with the truths and facts that came from God. He was perfect. Can you imagine if those words were written about you?
(Insert your name) is full of health and integrity. She agrees with the truths and facts that come from God. She is righteous. She is perfect. Can you imagine if the Bible was still being written today and those words, with your name, was written on its pages? Kind of awe-inspiring, isn't it?
HOW DID NOAH ACHIEVE PERFECTION?
What did Noah do to receive the accolades that grace the pages of God's Word? Was it because he built that Ark? No. The Ark hasn't been mentioned yet. Is it because he had great kids that followed the Lord? No. His family isn't mentioned until the following verse. Is it because he had a great marriage? Nope. Noah's wife isn't mentioned in these first verses of introduction to his life.
Noah was perfect because He walked with God.
It wasn't in his own strength that Noah was perfect. It wasn't his abilities. Noah walked with God. In a wicked and evil culture, he continued to walk with God. Through ridicule, abandonment, and vile gossip, he continued to walk with God.
Noah couldn't have built the Ark in his strength, knowledge, or know-how. God gave him the plan, dimensions, and instructions, and Noah followed that plan. When the way wasn't clear, he kept moving forward. If it wasn't perfect in his own eyes, he trusted that in God's eyes, the design was perfection.
BUT HE HAD TO BE GIFTED TO BUILD THE ARK, RIGHT?
Sure, he had gifts and talents, but God gave those gifts to Noah. He didn't earn them. He didn't have to work for them. All Noah had to do was obey and walk with God. That obedience equaled to perfection. Centuries later, you and I are here today because one man was perfect; one man walked with God.
WHAT CAN NOAH’S LIFE TEACH US?
We serve a God of such mercy and grace. He loves us so very much. Today, He is asking you to walk with Him. He is asking you to be obedient. He is asking you for a relationship. (Exodus 25:8)
My Friend, God wants to accomplish His perfect vision through your imperfect life. To be a woman walking with God, cultivating a relationship with Him, and being obedient to His call . . . That leads to perfection!
THE New Testament & JESUS
The first mention of "perfection" in the New Testament is found in Matthew 5:48.
"Therefore, you shall be PERFECT, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."
The word in Greek is teleios, and it means:
Full-grown and mature.
WAIT. I’M CONFUSED!
This verse has always stumped me. How? How are we going to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect? Scripture itself says that we all have fallen short of God's glory. (Romans 3:23) We are continually missing the mark. So how can I be perfect as my Father is perfect? My question brought me to prayer and study of the Bible, and this is what the Lord showed me.
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU.
In a culture of me, me, me, I, I, I, I hate to break your bubble. It’s not about you. Your perfection is not about who you are, what you do, or what you’ve accomplished. Your lack of perfection is not about who you are, what you haven’t done, or what you didn’t accomplish.
It is possible to be perfect as our Father is perfect because of Jesus, and we find our perfection in the completeness of who He is.
Paul clarifies this point in Philippians 3:12-14. This is what the New Living Translation says . . .
"I don't mean to say that I have already achieved these things or that I have already reached perfection. But I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ Jesus first possessed me. No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us."
THE THREE STAGES OF PERFECTION IN CHRIST.
Using Paul's words to the Philippians, we can break down perfection into three stages.
I am . . . You are . . . Accepted in the Beloved. (Ephesians 1:6) We are perfect because we have faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ. We can be perfect in character because we are eternally unified with the perfect man, Jesus Christ. We press on to possess perfection for which Christ first possessed us. Isn't that powerful?
Perfect Progress Toward Maturity.
We may never be flawless, but we can aspire to be as much like Jesus as we possibly can. By seeking and meditating on the Scriptures, we learn to be like Him, and in that, we are pursuing the very perfection of God. As Paul says, “I press on to possess that perfection for which Christ first possessed me.”
This progress, unlike our relationship, can change. Our journey to perfection in Christ can be thwarted when we fail to meditate and spend time in His Word and prayer. However, as Paul says, if we press on, we will be growing toward perfection.
It is essential for me to remember, and maybe you, Dear Friend, that our works do not lead to perfection. Oh, this is so hard for me to grasp. My perfectly neat (or not neat) house is not a sign of perfection. Neither is my perfect (or not perfect) work and ministry. My marriage is not a level of achievable perfection.
The good deeds do not perfect us; instead, as God perfects us, we do good deeds for Him out of our love and acceptance in Him and our love for others - not our desire to be seen as 'perfect' or 'good.'
“But we are citizens of heaven, where the Lord Jesus Christ lives. And we are eagerly waiting for him to return as our Savior. He will take our weak mortal bodies and change them into glorious bodies like his own, using the same power with which he will bring everything under his control." - Philippians 3:20-21
This is complete perfection. Again, it is not out of our works, but out of His grace and love for us, that we have eternal life. (source)
My Dear Friend, I admit it; I have been seeking the world's standard of perfection. Not only that, I have been trying to do it in my own strength. And where has that gotten me? Depressed, anxiety-filled, stressed, and physically sick.
I never realized as I was chasing this unicorn called 'perfection,' that I was missing the point. To be perfect is to press on to be like Him. Period. It isn't something that will happen overnight. It isn't something that I can check off a to-do list. The progress to perfection comes when we are actively seeking in the Beloved, learning to be like Him, and listening for the heart of God.
When our perfection is measured by the impossible standards of a parent, a boss, the culture, a Pastor, Instagram, or our own mind/thoughts, we are going to fail every - single - time.
CAN WE MAKE A PACT?
So how about we make a pact today, My Friend. Will you join me in letting down the walls of perfection that are hindering us from becoming like Him? Will you walk with me as we learn to embrace the fact that we are already perfect because of our relationship with The Lord? Will you commit to spending time in the Word with me so that we can learn more about who our God is and how we can be more like Him?
YOUR TURN. I am standing with an open hand ready to shake on this pact. Will you join me? Let me know in the comments below and let's talk about this beast of worldly perfection and how we can finally put it to rest!