Okay, so great article, right? Sad, but true. And the solution is partially helpful.
Growing up in Dallas, Texas, in the 1980’s I experienced what surely has to be some of the worst pretension in history. I moved there in the 7th grade from Oregon and showed up for school in my A Smile jeans and a polo shirt. I thought I was cool, only to find girls there wearing long, full, pleated skirts, heels, and carrying Louis Vuitton bags. At 12 years old. Are you kidding me?
Living in Texas for 16 years certainly influenced me as a person. While living there I always felt I had to have the perfect house, with perfectly well-dressed children, throwing perfect dinner parties, etc. I still have a hard time going to the grocery store without any make-up on.
But it’s not really a Texas thing. Well, maybe a little. But the issue of perfectionism runs through all part of the world, in it’s own ways, in every culture.
And being real can be very powerful antidote.
When I was a young mom I was blessed with a new best friend. We did everything together. She was kind of a mess. And she didn’t care. SHE LET ME COME OVER WHEN HER HOUSE WAS MESSY! (This was in Dallas, Texas, ya’ll. Amazing.) She didn’t act like she had it all together when she didn’t. That was an epiphany for me. Because I still loved her. I didn’t think any less of her. And I realized that I didn’t have to be perfect for people to like me either. They might even like me more. What a revelation.
Another “ah-ha” moment I had in being real was with a friend in high school. She and I knew each other from youth group, but went to different schools. Because of this, I think we felt we could open up to each other and not worry about our image. One night we sat on her trampoline and talked about everything into the wee hours of the night. I don’t even remember what we talked about. But I do recall the feeling of being honest yet still accepted, and the beauty of hearing another person express feelings that I thought only I had.
But where I think the BE REAL solution is not enough, is that it doesn’t address WHY we feel this desire to be perfect. If it’s all about being real, then let’s just sit around and pick our noses in front of each other. No! Gross! Not that real.
I believe we have a strong, inner desire to be perfect because we were created for perfection. Before sin, everything was perfect. Adam and Eve had perfect bodies and lived in a perfect garden and had a perfect marriage. We were created in God’s image (Genesis 1:26). And God is perfect.
But sin entered the world, and now we all suffer from it. Some people embrace sin, and choose a life of hate, theft, addiction, greed, etc. Others of us see sin, and don’t like it. We want to be good. But if we don’t deal with sin in the way God has provided, often times I think we turn to some small part of our life and try to control it to satisfy our desire for perfection. It can be our image or reputation. Our body. Our home. Our children. Our career. Or all of the above and more.
And it’s not that excelling in something is bad. We were created for excellence. The problem comes when perfection in some area or areas of our life becomes our god. And turning from the true God puts us in the same group as those who embrace sin.
So here’s the bad news and the good news. We are never going to perfect. We don’t have it all together and we never will. We screw up daily both on a large scale (hating, abusing, murdering) and on a small scale (overeating, not using our time well). Don’t you like how I categorize sin? Those are my thoughts, not necessarily God’s.
Anyway, we will forever make mistakes and be imperfect. And the really bad news is that the punishment for sin is death. God is Holy. He cannot be in the presence of any sin, no matter how “small.” All that you and I know that is good (life, light, love, beauty) is from God. So what to do, what to do!
Of course, that’s the good news. God already did DO. He satisfied His need for justice in the death and sacrifice of His Son, Himself. It is finished. When Jesus rose from the grave he conquered sin and death. If you have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, that His sacrifice has paid for your sins, you are saved.
And when God sees you, He sees perfection.
You don’t believe it, do you?
Even if you have already been saved.
But it’s true.
You have been cleansed, washed, forgiven.
You don’t have to strive.
You are His precious child.
It does not matter what you have done.
If you trust in Him for your salvation, you are clean. You are perfect. When He looks at you, He sees the righteousness of His Son.
2 Corinthians 5:21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God.”
If you are a Christian, YOU HAVE BECOME THE RIGHTEOUSNESS OF GOD!
Not by anything that you did.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that now one can boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
And you weren’t saved for nothing. You were saved for something. See the verses just following:
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10.
God loves perfection. He is perfection. He loves beauty and order. Just look at the world he made. At least the parts we haven’t messed up yet.
He calls us to put off sin, to run the race with endurance. He wants us to abide in Him. Study John 15 to understand how to live a life of walking with Jesus. But it’s not striving to earn anything. He’s already blessed us, if we are Christians, with His righteousness.
Life should be a process of becoming less of me and more of Him, by His grace and in His strength. And we don’t do this in isolation, but community. We need to share honestly our struggles and imperfections as we walk with Him. We do need to be real. We need to bear with one another. We need to extend grace, time and time again, to ourselves and to each other.
But somehow, through it all, He looks at me, even now, and sees the righteousness of His Son.