Epiphany for an Imperfect Perfectionist

10:02 AMHeather

Hello.  My name is Heather, and I'm a recovering perfectionist.  If you've followed me for long here, you are quite aware of this.  If you are a friend outside this bloggy world, you are even more aware of this.  As much as I hate to admit it, I thought I had really begun to perfect my recovery.  I mean, I let people come over whether I've deep cleaned or not.  I let multiple baskets of clean laundry sit for DAYS in plain sight without folding them.  And, I've even come to embrace that a meat and one side dish will indeed suffice for a dinner offering.  Or, even the occasional cereal for dinner.  That doesn't make me a bad cook...it makes me a fun mom, right?!

But, last week, I bumped into a Scripture with fresh revelation that sought to undo my perfect recovery.  

Therefore, since we are surrounded by
such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw 
off everything that hinders and the sin that
so easily entangles, and let us run with
perserverance the race marked out
for us.  Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfector of our faith.
Hebrews 12:1-2

Suddenly, that morning, a phrase jumped out that I'd only glossed over in the past.  Jesus...the perfector of our faith.  It rolled around and around in my mind.  I chewed on it all day long, hoping to wrap my mind and my brain around it in its entirety.  Here's my epiphany--for this hopelessy imperfect perfectionist.
Jesus does the work.  Jesus is the one.  Not me.  And, what does he perfect?  My actions?  My ability to perform?  My ability to accomplish tasks?  My ability to be superwoman?  My figure?  My looks?  My intellect?  My words?  My wardrobe?  My bank account?  My house?  My diet?

None of the above.  What Jesus wants to perfect is my faith. Plain and simple.  My faith.  Not up to me.  It's up to him.  Wowzers.  The release of that.  This plain and simple truth.  NO where in the Bible does it tell me I am supposed to be perfect.  

Now, this verse has tripped me up before...and I think in the past, I've allowed it to fuel or justify my perfectionist approach to my faith.

Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48

On this surface, this seems to be telling us to do the impossible. It seems to counter the first verse I shared.  It's an unattainable goal.  Just the thing to taunt any perfectionist. But, let's pause to look at it in context. That verse is commanding us to LOVE as the father loves.  Not to be perfect in ALL we do every minute of the day. You see, perfect love, according to the chapter in its entirety, is a love for even your enemies.  An indiscriminate love--being offered for those you love, for those you don't like, for those who are righteous, for those who are not, for those you agree with, for those you don't.  A love fueled by a faith in our Savior--who perfects that faith day in and day out throughout our journey on earth.  
Allow me to share with you where else my meditations of this last week have taken me.  Here's the definition of perfect, according to dictionary.com:

per·fect

[adj., n. pur-fikt; v. per-fekt] Show IPA
adjective
1.
conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type: a perfect sphere; a perfect gentleman.
2.
excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement: There is no perfect legal code. The proportions of this temple are almost perfect.
3.
exactly fitting the need in a certain situation or for a certain purpose: a perfect actor to play Mr. Micawber; a perfect saw for cutting out keyholes.
4.
entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings: a perfect apple; the perfect crime.
5. accurate, exact, or correct in every detail: a perfect copy
 
Here's the thing.  On this side of heaven, we will not be made whole, or complete, or be able to conform completely to Christ.  We will not be without flaws because of our flesh nature.  It's the reality this imperfect perfectionist must accept--and that is where I will find freedom!  I can let this truth be written on my heart in permanent ink so that I can cease my striving.  I will not be made whole until I walk heaven's streets.  

But, I can surrender, moment by moment, to the One who perfects my faith.  I can hand him my mess, my anxiety, my stress, my failures...and let him perfect my faith.  I can stand on the promise of Mark 9:24... "I do believe!  Help my unbelief!" Think about that.  He even will give us the belief to fuel our faith that HE will perfect.  
Glimpse of GRACE:  Yep, I am not perfect.  I am an imperfect parent, an imperfect wife, an imperfect friend, an imperfect follower of Christ.  I can dwell there, in my imperfections and illusions of some grand idealism to be perfect in my faith.  Nothing but being haunted by a sense of failure.  But, JESUS is the one who can and WILL perfect my faith when I hand myself over for the transformation.  

Do you want to know what Scripture says IS perfect?(cause we know it's not me)....

--His works are perfect (Deuteronomy 32:4)
--His way is perfect (2 Samuel 22:31, Psalm 18:30)
--His knowledge is perfect (Job 36:4, 37:16)
--His law is perfect (Psalm 19:7)
--His faithfulness is perfect (Isaiah 25:1)
--His peace is perfect (Isaiah 26:3)
--His will is perfect (Romans 12:2)
--His power is perfect (2 Corinthians 12:9)
--His suffering made our salvation perfect (Hebrews 2:10)
--HE is perfect (Hebrews 5:9)
--His gifts are perfect (James 1:17)
--His love is perfect (1 John 4:18) 

Here's the liberating truth of it all--these musings about perfection.  Here's the epiphany.  I can quit my striving and rest in Him to perfect my faith.  God does not have some huge gold star chart with a large empty space next to my name for all the times I don't measure up.  Instead, He calls me to come just as I am.  And hand it all to him--perfectionism and all.  And just let him do the work to perfect my faith.  That's it.  Plain and simple.  The God of perfect love, perfect knowledge, perfect works, perfect will, perfect power, perfect salvation, perfect ways--He loves and accepts me PERFECTLY, just as I am.  So, cease your striving.  Release your imperfect perfectionism with me.  There, we can know his perfect peace.  Doesn't that just sound--well, perfectly perfect?!

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