There is a spectacular misbelief that God expects us to be perfect. We are human. He knows we are not going to be perfect. All He asks is that we make it our goal to grow in our faith. Although I know this in my head, it's really hard to get it to sink down into my heart, the seat of my desires. I want to be perfect, and so I strive toward that goal, but pushing hard and trying to be perfect always cause me to fail in some way.
Without God's grace flowing through me, I am weak in my human strength. When I stop trying to get everything perfect and allow God to work through me, that's a different story. Then, "I am strong, truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God's strength." (2 Cor. 12:10c AMP)
The Perfectionism Conundrum
The other day, I was jogging laps in the water. I was reeling from my latest blatant attempt to be perfect and beating myself up because of it. Often, I feel if I don't do things perfectly, they are not worth doing. This leads me to procrastinate and do nothing.
I wanted to know the root so I could get rid of it once and for all. I had dug around in that perfectionism pile many times and done a lot of forgiveness, renouncing lies and hearing God's truths, and yet I could still identify perfectionism in my life.
I felt God asked me, "When is the first time you felt you needed to get everything right.?' Then I remembered my grandma would give me $1 for every E I got and an extra $5 if I got all E's. In second grade, I so wanted that reward to buy my first two-wheel bike, and I needed all the money to get it.
I worked hard all semester to get all E's. I was on pins and needles until we got our report cards the last day of school. I was unsure of a couple of categories, but I was hoping and praying I had done everything excellently.
To my great surprise my teacher thought so too and gave me all E's. I was so excited. I had worked hard. I had won my reward. I got the perfect score. My perfection was highly rewarded.
This was the root of not accepting less than perfect with anything I did. I needed to be perfect in order to get the perfect reward. I would accept nothing less.
To get rid of the root, I knew I should forgive my grandma, even though it seemed ridiculous to me to forgive her for setting up the hard work ethic her rewards gave me. I knew, though, it was the only way for me to get breakthrough.
I forgave her for expecting me to be perfect and then, rewarding my perfection. I renounced the lie that the Holy Spirit expects me to be perfect. Then, I asked God, What is Your truth?
This is always my favorite part, but this time' His answer surprised me. He didn't tell me He loved me as I am, although I know He does. He didn't say, I'll always be with you," though I know He will. He said, "If you were perfect, you wouldn't need Me, because you would be God."
Am I God?
I repeated that over and over in mind. I pondered it. I carried it around before I dealt with it. God was going deep into that mess of perfectionism. There have been times when I felt I knew better than God. I thought I had the "perfect" answer and if He would just do what I wanted Him to, everything would be fine.
Did I really think I was better than God? In His answer to me, God hit at the core of my issue. If I trust God, I won't try to run His show. His show really is my life. I need to let Him lead me in all things. I need to submit to God completely.
The truth is only God is perfect because only God is holy. He asks us to be imitators of Him. Copy Him and follow His example (see Eph. 5:1).
Jesus said to those gathered for the Sermon on the Mount, "Therefore be perfect, even as your Father who is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48, MEV). This is impossible without God.
The Amplified Version defines the word "perfect" in this passage as "growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life" (Matt. 5:48b, AMP).
None of us is perfect on our own. We have all failed in some way. Paul explains it further. "Not that I have already obtained it, this goal of being Christlike, or have already been made perfect, but I actively press on so that I may take hold of that perfection for which Christ Jesus took hold of me and made me His own" (Phil 3:12).
Then, he succinctly states that following Jesus completely should be the goal of every Christian: "Brothers and sisters, I do not consider that I have made it my own yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the heavenly prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus" (Phil 3:13-14).
God was showing me that I am weakest when I am trying to get everything right and attempting to figure out my problems and everyone else's in my own strength. Only when I lay down self-effort and rely on His strength will I be able to conquer every difficulty.
"I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I'm trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger. And I find that the strength of Christ's explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty" (Phil 4:12-13 TPT).
Let's stop beating ourselves up for our imperfections, hand them all to Jesus and learn to live walking hand in hand with His Holy Spirit power and strength infused into the very core of our being.
It's then that we are strong, truly able, truly powerful, truly drawing from God's strength and can accomplish whatever He has called us to do.
Teresa Shields Parker is the author of seven books, all available on Amazon. Her latest book, Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God, is available now, and Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds is the No. 1 Christian weight-loss memoir. She is also a writing and weight-loss coach, blogger, speaker, wife and mother. Visit her online at TeresaShieldsParker.com to find her books, coaching programs and free gifts.
This article originally appeared at teresashieldsparker.com.
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