Released From Perfection

To all perfection I see a limit,
but your commands are boundless.
Psalm 119:96

I’m thankful to be released from the false promise of perfection.

I am a recovering perfectionist. I have spent most of my life figuring out the absolute right way to do things so that I could get the best possible outcome.

And I have failed and disappointed myself time and time again.

I worked with the late Bill Bicknell who used to say, “The best is the enemy of the good.” (I think this quote is attributed to Voltaire) Bill taught this in the context of quality in public health practice. Essentially, when we strive for perfection, the cost of getting there is not worth the end.

This idea of striving for unattainable perfection came up again last week at a faculty workshop led by one of my colleagues at BU. She was sharing some new teaching methods she had used in her courses recently and gave the disclaimer that they haven’t all worked perfectly, she’s just been willing to try. Some of her experiments have failed but some have yielded pretty incredible results in the classroom.

I don’t have to depend on my own abilities or plans to yield a life of excellence but I do have to be willing to step out on a limb and accept that sometimes I will fail. The security lies in God’s sovereignty: His abilities and plans know no limits. He is not handicapped by doubt or forces out if His control. He IS in control.

We are not.

That reality terrifies us but really, we should speak this verse and breathe a huge sigh of relief. We don’t have to be perfect!

Our pride gets in the way here because we WANT to be perfect and we want so desperately to be able to control it. But until we stop striving for the impossible and obsessing over the details, we won’t get to taste the improbable yet incredible glory that God bestows on us when we learn to walk in His way.

Our version of perfection will never measure up to God’s greatness and the cost of trying to get there on our own is far too high.

Thank You, Jesus, that you died for all my gross imperfections and continue to cleanse me from my sins. I rejoice in the freedom of letting go of an idol that only serves my pride instead of the goodness we trick ourselves into believing we will produce by being “perfect”. You are perfect, Jesus, and I pray that our striving nature would strive to be like You and not a worldly version of perfect. Thank You for lifting this burden from me!

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One thought on “Released From Perfection

  1. Being released from perfection, for me, is terrifying and liberating at the same time. It is a wonderful thing that I don’t have to be perfect because God is, at the same time it is terrifying because I am admitting that I am not ultimately in control of things which is terrifying. Thank you for this.

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