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The pitfalls of perfection

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Jesus was perfect and the Bible clearly supports that fact. Along with being 100 percent man, He was also 100 percent God. There was no sin, thus making Him the perfect sacrifice for our sin. He is the only perfect man to have ever walk this earth.

I say all of that to tell you that perfectionism is unattainable and frankly impossible for everyone else. JESUS came because God knew we couldn’t live up to the law or be sinless on our own. We needed a Savior and we needed grace. Is this grace a license to sin and do whatever we want? No! But it most certainly relieves us of the burden of being perfect. God understands we can’t do it and doesn’t expect it. What He does want is for us to get in His Word and allow it to transform our lives from the inside out.

When my husband answered the call to preach, I was filled with a million pre conceived notions of what a preacher’s family ought to look like. None of this image came from the Bible, but instead a bar I had set for myself by what I had seen in others. I wanted to always say the perfect thing, quit being so stinkin shy, have perfect kids, and have a perfect husband. It wasn’t long before I felt very inadequate and insecure about everything. I nagged and pushed everybody to fit some crazy standard. You’ll notice none of that includes me sitting and reading my Bible, growing in grace. Nope. I was more concerned about appearing to be a cute little preacher’s home than actually doing the work to please the Lord. Our home was a mess, I couldn’t handle my kids, I cried in defeat often, my husband and I shared little intimacy, and I never felt good enough. It had nothing to do with honoring God, but everything to do with pleasing self and man. Yuck. That’s where perfectionism gets messy. (Note: my husband did not encourage this. In fact, I stressed him out more than anything. He was raised a preacher’s kid and knows a thing or two about this, but I’m still learning.)

I had to come to a place where I recognized my weaknesses for what they are. I had to go to the Lord and ask for forgiveness and for help to improve in the areas I struggle. I decided that I would begin striving for excellence in my weak points, rather than being bogged down by trying to be perfect. I stepped back from all of the crazy and decided to be quiet, just letting the Lord work in me and our home. I quit flipping out over playing a clunker on the piano or not having every hair in place, although I hate the feeling of both. And I decided the heart of our home was what He desired to see cleaned up. I can say this has been life changing in the way I love my husband, my children, and the ministry in which I serve. I’m not perfect and I’m done trying to be.

I want to grow, learn, and mature in the way God would have me to … but that goes much further than looking the part, while my Bible sits neglected. I must set reasonable goals for myself and go forward in grace.

Do you struggle with perfectionism in your life? It’ll tear you up and render you disappointed and lifeless in the end. Seek JESUS first, set goals, and strive to do your best. Understand that there are days you’ll mess up and where the whole world will know it. Give yourself grace. Do better next time. Be more concerned with your heart and less with what people see. If God is working on the inside, it’ll certainly show on the outside.

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Understanding a ‘Lil Bit of Grace

image.jpgJust because you’re saved doesn’t mean you understand grace.

Surely every born again believer enjoys grace, but understanding its depth is different. I can’t say I have it mastered, but learning about how God is gracious to me has changed my walk with Him. It’s changed the way I serve and the way I see others.

There was a time where there was enough grace for the lost sinner, but little to none for the saint. I was very judgemental and impatient with people who struggled in their walk. I had no compassion or concern for the heart of the issue they might have been facing, but instead I just rolled my eyes and thought I was more spiritual. “Get over it.”

I used to be very self loathing and critical of myself because I had very high standards that I couldn’t ever seem to meet. They weren’t standards set by God – but by my desire to look and act like someone I admired. Perhaps I thought they had it figured out so I just tried to emulate their behavior. It was so superficial and I was not at all close to God, as I was filled with pride. I had no grace for myself, because just one tiny slip would leave me hating myself for days. I thought my flaws and imperfections, in spite of having a desire for God to help me, were a great hindrance and that my family would never do anything for God. Instead of asking for God’s help and resting in His power as I could try to grow, I just hated myself for not being good enough.

Then life happened and rattled me to my core, knocking me to my knees. I hated being there, so vulnerable and not knowing which way was up or down. I tried hard to push forward in spite of being broken, but the Lord put me in a place where I needed to look to Him. I had to get back to basics: remembering how He saved me, how He gave me grace in spite of many failures. I felt silly for being a preacher’s wife and having to look at such simple truths, but somewhere along the way, I had forgotten them. I had gotten caught up in the do’s and don’ts – how God might chop your legs off if you mess up (that’s a real one I feared)- and forgot about compassion and grace.

I realized people go through things and it’s not our job to point the finger and criticize. If they are in sin, then yes, rebuke with the Bible. Be honest. It’s important to remember God will chastise His children if they are in sin. However, people also need to be shown compassion. They need to know that God will meet them wherever they are in life. I’m not just talking about the druggie down the road. I’m talking about the Christian who’s been hurt one too many times and needs a brother to help them along as they learn to stand again. Or the Christian who struggles with sin and needs a ton of prayer and encouragement.

I realized that while accepting my flaws and sins I struggle with as things that need to change, I can’t sit and hate myself. God knows I’m a sinner, He knows I struggle. He didn’t ask for me to be perfect . He desires that I look to Him for help, get in His Word, and move forward. In spite of all that can go wrong, He forgives me and continues to help each day. I might get angry with things sometimes, I may not understand. He keeps helping me to move forward.

These are just a couple of portions of the unending grace that I and so many others have known in our lives. I thank God that He isn’t an angry God in Heaven waiting to strike us dead the moment we sin, but that He desires to see us do well and draw us closer to Him. We correct our kids when they are wrong, but we also pull them close and whisper, “I love you.” We still encourage them to grow and learn to do better. We don’t just toss them aside, completely impatient with the fact they didn’t get it right again. Learning this has been life changing for me. Am I happy about the manner in which I learned it? Not really. The past two years have been tough. However, it needed to happen. I needed to learn how God loves me and how He loves His people so I could love.