I’ve always said, “I’m not a perfectionist; I’m a pragmatist.”
My goal is usually to get things done. I’m willing to let some things go as long as I have a viable product by the deadline.
That’s what I say.
Mostly, it’s true. Pragmatism trumps perfectionism for me in a million ways every single day.
But I stood there in a bustling classroom on Open House Night and realized that maybe perfectionism has been lurking its ugly head in my heart after all.
Turns out, you don’t have to be a perfectionist about everything to struggle with perfectionism in some things.
My stuff doesn’t need to be perfect, but I need to be perfect.
(And maybe I want my kids to be perfect, too.)
I chatted with my daughter’s teacher and loved her. She has this elegant air of grace and gentle wisdom.
But I’m nervous around teachers. They are like superheroes to this teacher’s pet of a neurotic straight-A student like me. So, I found myself just saying things without thinking.
She said she enjoyed teaching my girl.
I said something about my daughter enjoying the year so far, but how sometimes if she gets a B on a paper that’s still a little hard.
She said in the quietest of ways, “Really, I don’t see that about her at all. She seems to be so well-adjusted and not overwhelmed by things like that.”
My daughter is the well-adjusted one.
It’s me with the problem. It took a near-stranger to see right through me and call out the ugly I’m still holding onto like a security blanket.
She didn’t realize it, of course. Yet, one simple conversation like that keeps nudging at my heart.
It turn out I have areas of my life where I accept imperfection and areas where I expect to meet impossible standards that set me up for failure and leave me desperate for grace.
Messy closets…..I can let that go.
Messing up with my kids, with my husband, with a friend…..unacceptable.
Do not lose your patience.
Do not forget to sign the school agenda or the reading log or the quiz or the behavior sheet for any child.
Do not neglect or overlook anyone or anything.
Always say the right thing.
Always be there for everyone with wisdom and grace.
Yet, here’s the truth of the Gospel: Perfectionism keeps us from Christ. Jesus came for the imperfect.
Perfectionism feeds into that prideful self-righteousness that says I can be right without Jesus. I can be good enough. I don’t really need a Savior. Only sinners and mess-ups need rescue.
And while I say it: “I need Jesus,” what I really mean is: “I need Jesus in a thoroughly acceptable and comfortable good-Christian girl kind of way.”
That rich young ruler found Jesus walking along the road and knelt before Him. He made a show of humility: dropping his knee before a dust-covered-carpenter-turned-wandering-rabbi.
The man asked: “Good Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Mark 10:17 NASB).
And when Christ listed off the commandments, the man said, “I have kept all these things from my youth up.” (Mark 10:20 NASB).
He’d spent his entire young life striving within himself to do and do and do the right thing, never breaking the rules, never faltering.
Yet, he still missed out on Jesus. He couldn’t give everything up to follow after Christ.
And that’s what Jesus wants, not perfect self-righteous rule-followers who focus so hard on taking the right steps that they never walk forward.
He just wants our heart.
It’s fitting really.
Too often we stress over Christmas, the busyness, the rush, the show. We need to fulfill every tradition. Create beauty. Teach our children about Jesus and about giving.
Pinterest tells me I need to make Christmas ‘magic’ for my children.
Yet, too often we make Christmas about do and do and do.
What if this year we Abandon Perfection and simply make Christmas about giving Jesus our heart?
I want Jesus. I want His presence. And that means coming now, before I’m perfect. Coming as we are.
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9 ESV).
To read more about this 12-month journey of pursuing the presence of Christ, you can follow the links below! Won’t you join me this month as I ‘Abandon Perfection?
- Finding Room to Breathe: A 12-month pursuit of the presence of Christ
- January: Be Still and Know
- February: Pray Simply
- March: Unplug
- April: Enjoy Beauty
- May: Create Beauty
- June: Invest in Friendship
- July: Retreat and Refresh
- August: Learn to Say, “No”
- September: Learn When to Say, “Yes”
- October: Find the Sacred in the Ordinary
- November: Practice Sabbath-Keeping
- December: Abandon Perfection
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. Her book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, is available now! To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.
Copyright © 2014 Heather King