As a recovering perfectionist, I can attest: Perfectionism is a bad thing.
It’s overwhelming, paralyzing, and ultimately unhelpful. Requiring perfection of yourself is a miserable way to live, because you will never attain it. Yet we all––in some areas, at least––desire excellence. To me, the line between pursuing excellence and getting caught in perfectionism can be thin.
But it strikes me afresh tonight that the perfect God who created this entire universe and has all power to do anything He likes at any time, is a God of grace.
I don’t understand it.
He is worthy of perfection, of perfect followers.
He, in fact, requires perfection from those who would seek to associate themselves with Him. Yet He fulfills that requirement with Jesus’ blood. Jesus’ blood covers us, and our merit isn’t taken into account.
This both offends my pride and concerns me. If neither personal perfection nor even personal excellence is required for me to enter the Kingdom, what will keep my life from degenerating into something mediocre? I know I am naturally lazy, and I fear wasting away my life on myself. On entertainment. On distractions.
In one word: His grace.
His grace is what saves me, and it’s also what is at work within me,
changing me and making me better. His grace is what draws me, again and again, back to where I should be. I wander, I fall, I fail. But His grace always catches me.
I should amend my earlier statement. He does take our heart and our actions into account. Not in the sense of weighing whether we are good enough to enter His gates. (If that were the case, we would all fall short.) But in the sense of testing. You show a tree is a lemon or olive or pear tree by its fruit. We show we are His children by our actions.
Those who have truly received His grace know a love thoroughly powerful and utterly life-changing. They cannot help but change.
So when I am discontent with myself, I return once again to the source.
I take my eyes off of my failures, my mistakes, and my short-comings. I let go of them. I lift my eyes to the One who gives grace, and I ask what He would like me to do next. The past is already behind me. It’s time to continue forward.
But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on, toward the goal, to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 3:13-14