Perfection. It is a cultural expectation and a standard by which we live our lives. It often is the desired final destination of life’s great pursuit. We want it so badly that we chase after it constantly. We crave it so intensely that we become consumed by it. Perfection becomes an obsession.
We cannot escape the idea of perfection. It is everywhere. It surrounds us daily. It exists in the shows we watch on television, the magazines we read, and the social media platforms we participate in. We are told that we aren’t pretty enough, thin enough, strong enough or smart enough. We are too old, too bald, or too sick. Our relationships, our jobs, our homes, our cars, our cities and towns, and our children are less than we deserve. Articles tell us how to find the perfect spouse, the perfect career and how to take the perfect selfie. The consistent onslaught of “things aren’t perfect and you can be/do better” messages feeds our deepest insecurities and encourages us to believe we must be something different from who we are, invest money to make the “needed” improvements, and change our behaviors and beliefs. Don’t believe me? Spend some time on Facebook. I can’t read through my feed without seeing the “buy this product to look more beautiful, lose weight, thicken your hair” post. This is not shot at those individuals making a living by promoting their companies and selling these items. I respect that. It’s just a picture of what the reality is. We live in a world where every product assumes you’re flawed and every product promises to get you closer to perfection.
Perfection is an unrealistic expectation. It is an unachievable destination. It is an impossible standard. And most of the time it isn’t even our standard. It belongs to someone else. We strive to achieve a “perfect” that has been created and defined by another person. We spend so much time working and doing in an endless quest to get it all “perfect,” and we end up missing out on what life is really about. We fail to enjoy the journey. We are unsuccessful is seeing our beauty. We lack the ability to be present and embrace each moment. We are blind to progress made. We don’t celebrate our accomplishments and the battles won. The reality is that striving for perfection often leaves us unhappy and unfulfilled because no accomplishment is ever enough. We are never enough.
I am employed by organization that is working to end the sexual exploitation of children. It is a massive problem in today’s world so we will not accomplish our goal tomorrow. But we are making progress. 620 precious lives were rescued in 2017. Men and women who trafficked them were arrested. Bars and brothels were shut down. It’s real progress. If we cannot pause to see and celebrate these accomplishments we will simply feel like failures. And that is not right.
I am not a perfect father, husband or son. Quite frankly, I would label myself “not good” on many and most days. I make endless mistakes. I fail regularly. I do and say the wrong things. And you know what, it is okay. I’ve come to the realization that I can’t be perfect. I can, however, work to be better daily. I need to want to grow. I have to make progress. And some days I do see progress.
I can say the same thing for my relationship with Jesus. It is definitely not perfect. I put Him in a box. I don’t pray often enough or big enough. Sometimes I miss church, watch television programs that are inappropriate, and say words I shouldn’t say. You know what? He loves me anyway. He doesn’t expect me to be perfect. He wants me to be better, become stronger, gain in wisdom and grow. And grow I will continue to do.
I don’t know what you are going through right now or how you are feeling. I just want you to know it is okay to stop expecting perfection. Your life isn’t and won’t be perfect. It will actually be quite messy. And that is okay. Embrace who are you. Enjoy where you are. Start celebrating progress. I believe you’ll find more happiness if you do.