Perfectionism - it means that you try to be perfect, do everything perfectly and strive to maintain the perfect life. When I see this on paper, I see the craziness of such an approach. Perfectionism is a ticket to endless struggle, anxiety, stress and rare moments of peace.
So why attempt it? I think that we see the beauty of perfection. If someone plays a piano piece perfectly at a recital, we take note. If an Olympic athlete achieves a perfect score in an event, we clap wildly. When a sunset produces a stunningly “perfect” sky, we marvel. Perfection is rare and attractive.
Yet, it is impossible for us to attain a state of continual life long perfection as we live in this world. We are by nature, fallen. “To err is human.” We make mistakes in math and relationships. We could have done that presentation better. We would parent differently next time. We might choose different words after a miscommunication with a friend.
So is it possible to make peace with imperfection? The solution is not to give up and let everything go. We know that putting in our best effort feels a lot better than laziness or complacency. So we must learn to make peace with the “partial” while looking forward to the “perfect.”
1 Corinthians 13:9-12 speaks about this.
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up my childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully.”
So we see the reality of life now compared to the coming perfection.
Partial - We know in part and prophesy in in part. Perfect – The partial will pass away.
Partial – We see in a mirror dimly. Perfect – Then we shall see face to face.
Partial – We know in part. Perfect – Then we shall know fully.
So how do we live with the partial (or imperfection) in ourselves, our work, our relationships and our lives? First, we must look to Jesus, “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” Jesus actually did live the perfect life. Yet, he suffered and struggled with the same things we face. “For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2:18). So we turn to Him for help. He sustains us through our struggles and perfects our faith.
We also turn to Him for hope. God has put everything in subjection to Christ. He now reigns as supreme Lord over the universe. We don’t yet see His reign in its fullness. But it will come. When that happens, all wrongs will be made right; justice will be served; the wounds of our lives will be healed and we will enter a new life free from the presence of sin, death or the devil. Then we will be perfect. Until then, look to Jesus for help and hope.
“Lord Jesus, thank you for coming and experiencing life as a human. Help us to trust You for a sympathetic response to our struggles. Help us to live with hope because you are sovereign over the world and our lives.”