Let’s be real for a minute – I’ve been excited about 2018 for a looong time; it’s a big year for me academically, spiritually, emotionally, relationally… But more than that, I think I’ve always convinced myself that the beginning of the year is a start over, a renewing moment, where basically everything changes for the better, and I’m suddenly perfect.
I tell myself that every year. Every. Single. Year.
Let’s be honest though, it’s ridiculous how often I try to make that idea work for me, because once the holiday season passes, life gets back to the same old pattern I’m used to, and, oops, there I go, not being perfect like I told myself I would be. And life not being perfect, like I told myself it would be.
I can’t control the ever-changing, unyielding whims of the world. There’s no rhyme or reasons to the things I experience on a daily basis. Fights, friends, fear, peace, joy… at any moment, these things plant themselves in the deepest parts of our souls or are brutally uprooted from our fragile frames. We don’t have control. And, wow, that sucks. Because the paradox we live in is that there could be a wedding one night and a funeral for the bride’s father the next morning. And we try to control things?
This New Year’s resolution of perfection I bestow on my unable self each and every year is exhausting in each and every manner because, here’s the thing, when I eat a cupcake, when I let foul words escape my mouth at the hints of tragedy that have sprinkled themselves throughout these last couple weeks, when I get anxious, I get angry. Angry at myself for not being able to maintain my own standards. Angry at everyone around for making it impossible for me to be in total control. Angry at God because why didn’t He just change the situation?!
Let’s be honest though because more importantly than the anger is the actual reason why I get angry. I get angry because my intense shame when failure meanders into my life is easiest to cover up when I’m mad.
And, let’s be honest, I don’t really know any other way to deal with the intensity of uncertainty and the fear I feel at being out of control. So, at least in anger, I can control my interactions with those around me. At least I’ve maintained the façade of control I like to display to other people. My many masks of perfection, of goodness, of strength…
But I am not a list of perfect characteristics. I am so much more than that. You are so much more than that.
God forces us to redefine ourselves when we begin holding ourselves to a list of standards that require perfection to keep. Pining for the achievement of perfection is destructive and He knows that, so pain is allowed to come our way when the pain will bring deliverance that needs to be presented to a heart lost in name tags and labels.
Hello my name is… almost good enough.
Almost. But I’m not. Because I haven’t met the jaw-dropping standards I’ve set for myself.
Okay, stop. Can we address the fact that you would never hold other people to the level you hold yourself to? You would never look another person dead in the eye and say, “You’re not good enough” or “You need to be perfect”. (Okay, well, maybe you would, but you shouldn’t.)
Often when I find myself saying these things in the mirror, I think of how God would respond.
“Don’t talk to my daughter like that.”
And yet I do it anyways.
Here’s the scary part – I don’t ever recall perfection being a requirement for “good enough”. I made that up for myself entirely. People have been making up these standards for themselves for a long, long time.
However, Jesus didn’t die for perfect people. If He did, well, that would just be the worst.
Thankfully, He is making us good enough… “making” being the key word in that sentence. We are being perfected, but, I can tell you from an unfortunate amount of experiences with the imperfectness in me, that we most definitely are not there yet.
Hello my name is… getting there.
But even with this knowledge, it is as if we still think we need to be perfect right now. As if the nail-scarred, whipped-backed, thorn-crowned body of Jesus didn’t do enough already. Do you really think He didn’t do enough? I don’t think you think that because I know I don’t think that when I’m trying to make myself better on my own, and yet I still cover myself in the shame of standard and falling short.
We’re so wrapped up in performances that when we can’t meet our own expectations (or maybe that of a parent or overbearing friend) we rip ourselves apart! Would you stand to see anyone else degraded by what so easily rolls off your tongue when you mess up?
Hello my name is… afraid.
We’ve placed so much value on achievement, on being good enough in the eyes of the world, that we’ve forgotten what it looks like to live Kingdom lives. We take being called a “masterpiece” too lightly.
Hello my name is… masterpiece.
Masterpiece. Masterpiece. Masterpiece.
You are a masterpiece. I am a masterpiece. The most beautiful work of art imaginable – we are that. There’s nothing false in God’s statements about us. Masterpiece.
Your value, dearest daughter, dearest son, is nonnegotiable. You don’t determine it. He does—He did when He died with the weight of every conceivable sin, every life, every thought, every fear, breaking His heart.
He doesn’t call you worthless. I can promise you that, Masterpiece.