I am a perfectionist at heart. I hate making mistakes and stress and fuss over minute details, driving myself and everone around me crazy! Which is, well, crazy, because no one is perfect; everyone makes mistakes.
Now my head knows this but my heart persists in the battle. It’s part of my makeup, I guess you would say. Or is it a heart idol?
Don’t let me fool you however. If you walked in my house , you would say, “Perfectionist?”. The problem with perfectionism is you either drive yourself to distraction or you give up because it’s impossible. Guess which one I am? The second.
Often what goes hand in hand with perfectionism is procrastination because the need to try to get it perfect overwhelms. Another result of perfectionism can be indecision because it has to be the perfect choice.
An example of this is when my children were young. My mother went shopping with me to buy them each a Wrinkles dog for Christmas. There were different coloured dogs, different clothes on each dog and different bones in their pockets. An indecisive person’s nightmare! I stood there holding up each dog and comparing it to the others, trying to decide which one would suit which child. My mother finally got exasperated and left me there and went to do other shopping.
A long time after she returned and there I still was…mulling. My mother couldn’t believe her eyes! So she finally gave me a push and said she was leaving, so I had better decide! I mean, I have three boys!! They probably didn’t even notice let alone care about colour or clothes! But I was frozen in the heart idol of perfectionism.
This is why Phillipians 3:12-14 strikes a resonating chord in my sinful heart. It speaks to the struggle for the desire to be perfect, yet knowing we are not…yet.
It encourages me to forget past mistakes, past sins, past bad decisions and to strive and strain forward for the victory prize. Eternal life with our Lord, God!
There has only ever been one perfect human being and that was the Lord Jesus Christ. We can never attain perfection this side of heaven or Christ wouldn’t have had to die on the cross for us.
At this time of year it is good to remember He came as a little baby, tiny, perfectly formed but perfect in spirit as well. He came in humility and dwelt among us, the sinful and imperfect, to show us an example of perfection. We can’t attain it in full in our flesh but we can strive towards it knowing He is with us encouraging us on and helping us. The miraculous thing is, through faith in Christ, we will attain it when we die and go to live eternally with Him in heaven.
There is our hope, our prize: eternal life in the presence of our Lord! The greatest prize, the greatest gift we could ever imagine or hope for.
So the next time you make a mistake or an imperfect decision, don’t beat yourself up and give up, strain towards the goal. Keep on keeping on! Remember our God knows you are only dust and knows you are imperfect but He loves you like you are perfect! He loves you this way because when we choose Christ and follow Him, God sees us like his Son, our Lord and Saviour Jesus who was the perfect sacrifice on our behalf.