“Indeed, we all make many mistakes. For if we could control our tongues, we would be perfect and could also control ourselves in every other way.“ – James 3:2.
Olivia was a girl who struggled with perfectionism in every stage of life. When she was young, she strove to be a good, respectful child. As she grew older, she wanted strong, vibrant friendships. She wanted to have the best grades in high school and college and be a member of the best sorority. She wanted to be supermom; a right-on-schedule mom who only picked up her baby when it was time – time for a meal, time for a nap, or playtime. Her baby would sleep through the night at two weeks in her own really cool nursery that was the envy of all the moms in the neighborhood. She was an entrepreneur that started her own company that now employed 12 people. And to top it off she was the perfect socialite.
Olivia is fictitious because a real person would be confused, worn out, and frustrated because creating an image of perfection is a never-ending, exhausting activity. If Olivia was a real person she would figure out that she is not perfect and allow God to make her the best version of herself.
As Christians, an impossible level of perfection that is unachievable should not be what we strive for. It can be easy to get caught up in all the little things and a desire to be perfect. However, that is not what is important. God knows we will sin. Rather what is important is our hearts and our desires to honor and love Christ.
The Bible makes it pretty clear that the only person who has ever lived a sinless life is Jesus Christ. 1 John says, “Everyone who sins is breaking God’s law, for all sin is contrary to the law of God. And you know that Jesus came to take away our sins, and there is no sin in him” (1 John 3:4-5).
We have all messed up and fallen short in our lives. However, that does not mean we are stuck in a never-ending cycle of sin and shame. Wherever you are right now with pressures in your life, God is whispering to us that we are released from the pressure to be perfect. You don’t have to “have it all together” and honestly, no one does anyway no matter how hard they work at it.
2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” This verse is telling us that God’s grace is sufficient for us. And not only that, Paul takes it a step further. God’s power is made perfect in our weakness. God’s power is unending and more than we can comprehend. God gives us strength in the midst of our chaos and weakness to overcome whatever life throws at us.
Our culture has its own ideas of what success and perfection look like. As a follower of Christ, success looks like one thing: obeying God and following His will for your life – nothing else. It’s not about following rules or becoming our own idea of perfection. It’s about loving God and loving others.
- Where do you struggle most with perfectionism? What do you need to let go of so you can move forward?