When we first get married, have a new baby, or move into a new house, we are showered with gifts. Those who love us want to help us begin a new chapter of our lives with beautiful and practical things. It’s exciting to see our homes come together in a way that reflects our personal tastes and style. There are few things more satisfying than those picture-perfect moments when it all comes together, and we certainly love sharing those perfect moments!
Because life has a funny way of distressing the beauty right out of the perfection!
Whether we like it or not, things don’t stay perfect. The set of dinner plates we were so excited about unpacking and placing carefully onto the lined shelves will eventually have a broken piece to toss (usually about a month after the pattern is discontinued) and we will be left with an incomplete set. The baby quilt that Grandma spent months creating will end up with spit up stains that we didn’t catch in time to pre-treat. And that new house? Well, if it’s anything like those we’ve lived in, it won’t be long before you have to make that first painful phone call for a major repair–hopefully not for a termite infestation or septic failure six months after closing.
What’s almost sad is that while we all have these imperfections in our lives, we do everything in our power to hide them. We don’t like for people to see that we’re clumsy, careless, maybe a little lazy, or that we suffer from plain old dumb luck. So we crop pictures to hide the mess; we Photoshop the blemishes out; we put our best face out there for our Instagram and Facebook audience to see. And when we invite people into our homes, we toss the broken stuff into a hidden cabinet and hide the mess behind closed doors or in a closet, because we can’t let on that we don’t have it all together!
We don’t dare let anyone know that the job we spent years studying for and that we worked and prayed so hard to get has now turned into a nightmare that we dread. We can’t let on that our marriage is anything less than fairy-tale wonderful and that we actually have disagreements over not just little things, but sometimes the really big stuff as well–like money and inlaws and sex. Heaven forbid we admit that postpartum depression has us daydreaming of taking that precious, screaming newborn who never sleeps and tossing him out the window, or that we are so exhausted by the drama of perfectly normal but insanely moody, hormonal teenagers that we sometimes wish we could jump out of the window ourselves!
I wonder if we’ve somehow bought into the lie that the life of a Christian should be the model of ease, beauty, and perfection? After all, if we do things the right way, we won’t have financial problems, our prayers will be stronger than any physical malady we encounter, our children will be beautiful little cherubs who are healthy, immeasurably intelligent, and sweeter than southern iced tea, our homes will be magazine-ready at all times, we will never struggle with depression, and our pie crusts will always be flaky and tender.
If you don’t think this idea has fully permeated Christian society, just consider for two seconds how harshly those within the brotherhood are judged when imperfections in their lives are exposed. We almost always have a scripture to back up why things went wrong. We hold up Biblical models of greatness to show just how things should be done. We have unspoken, unwritten standards for pretty much every aspect of life, and it is these standards that cause perfectly normal Christians to feel like utter failures. It’s time we step away from the model of perfection and realize that maybe our internalizing of the language of Matthew 5:48 does us a disservice by giving us the expectation that we “must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We know that the word “perfect” that Jesus used meant for us to be complete–lacking nothing–which we cannot do outside of Christ. We cannot be whole, complete, righteous on our own; we need His perfect sacrifice to intervene for us, and it is ONLY through Him that we can be complete. However, I’d like to suggest to you that when we humans hear the words “be perfect,” it resonates with us in ways we may not be cognizant of.
We understand and acknowledge that we are made perfect (complete) by Christ. But we’re human, and it’s very difficult for us to not want to separate our well-ingrained human view of what perfection looks like to the world. Maybe it stems from worthy desires to bring glory to God through a life well lived, or maybe we even want to live in such a way that others flock to Jesus because of how wonderful our lives are.
Is that Biblical? Is it healthy?
My goal, my aim for this blog, is to celebrate a life that is imperfect by the standards of this world, but yet fully complete and beautiful in the eyes of God. I would love to provide encouragement to those of us who do find beauty in the imperfections. I want for us to learn together to thrive in a world that is constantly chipping away at our joy and our contentment. I pray that I may be used by God despite all of the cracks in my armor.