the paralyzing pursuit of perfection :)

Paul wrote to the Philipians,

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (3:12)

Paul communicated that he “pressed on”, even though he knew he wasn’t perfect.  There’s freedom in that phrase if you look hard enough – we’ll circle back and see it together!

Knowing that I love to entertain, my parents gave me both of my grandmothers’ formal china – and both sets are beautiful!  I love dishes, I love a well-appointed table, I love serving and blessing my friends…. Recently, I invited our church staff wives and board members’ wives over for a “tea” and I had so much fun serving on my formal china!

Let me take a pause here and tell the truth, before any of you get the idea that I’m some amazing housekeeper or hostess: I’m not at all. My kitchen is SO VERY ill-equipped, I’m not a good cook, I just wish I was!  What I like is having people over!   Anyone who has been to my house knows this is true – it’s just not perfect!  Just this past weekend, a friend brought over a crockpot of grits (de-lish!).  She asked me if I could put out the butter – guess what? I didn’t even have any butter in my fridge! Who doesn’t have a staple like butter? Me – me and my ill-equipped kitchen.  I don’t have a full set of measuring cups either – I’m winging it over here! What I do have is pretty dishes and a desire to be a blessing! Now that I’ve “told on myself” and there is no pretense between us, we can move forward!

Some years ago, I thought about the times I’ve been invited to someone else’s house. I wasn’t looking for dust or matching silverware or chips on the dishes – I was just glad to be there. I’m excited about the conversation and the comfort, and I’m thankful for the invitation – I’m glad to be with my friend!  Those thoughts led to this one: “just like me, most people aren’t looking for perfection, they are looking for relationship.” What I do have is a desire to be a blessing and create a comfortable space for my guests.  What I do have is a desire to enjoy their company and share my home. No perfection over here – but I sure like relationship!  Realizing that most people feel the same gave me freedom from the paralyzing pursuit of perfection.

I have friends who feel as if they can’t have a guest in their home – they think it isn’t clean enough, it isn’t nice enough, it isn’t fill-in-your-own-blank enough.  Sadly, this feeling of not-being-enough or not-attaining-perfection doesn’t stop in one area of our lives.  We can talk ourselves into “not enough” in any area: maybe we aren’t not good enough parents or maybe we are not good enough writers or maybe we aren’t good enough prayer warriors or maybe we aren’t good enough singers or maybe we aren’t good enough fill-in-your-own-blank-here.

Once we convince ourselves that we aren’t enough, the next step in that downward spiral is shame or embarrassment. We create walls between us and the people around us. We hide because we are afraid someone else might realize our lack.  From there, we step into comparison – and trust me, we can always find someone who IS enough and someone who CAN do successfully all the things we can’t do.  Finally, we convince ourselves that we don’t have anything worthy to give, and we stop giving altogether.

I have another thought: I think that we cannot put up walls between ourselves and people without also putting up walls between ourselves and the Lord.  If we are hiding and not using the gifts that God gave to us to bless others, isn’t it in some way disobedient?  I’m ready to circle back here if you are –

Paul wrote to the Philipians,

“Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (3:12)

Paul knew and readily admitted that he wasn’t perfect. However, his very next words were “I press on”.  In spite of shortcomings, in spite of insecurities, in spite of imperfection, he pressed on toward the high calling of God in Christ. His is an example to follow – especially for a type-A-personality like mine!  I need that freedom from the paralyzing pursuit of perfection!

Let’s say it together, and commit to it: My house isn’t perfect – but I’ll still share the blessings I have and enjoy friends. My prayer life may not be perfect, but I’ll keep speaking to the Lord even when I can’t find the right words. I may not be the best singer, but I’ll continue making a joyful noise. I may have made a mistake today, but I won’t let that mistake stop my progress.  I’ll continue to press on, using my gifts in the best way I can today, trying to be a blessing in my imperfections. I’ll trust the Lord to fill-in-my-blanks and help me grow.

Being able to let go of the pursuit of perfection and just press on. You’ll find (in spite of your shortcomings) that your offering is a grace and gift to someone in your life. Freedom from the paralyzing pursuit of perfection? That’s a treasure ❤

Praying that you are able to press on today!

Jennifer 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s