I find within myself this burning, consuming need to be perfect…
to be seen as perfect by others…
to practically be perfect for myself…
to live up to the standard of perfection set by God.
But somewhere in between changing over the laundry and chasing a crawling baby around the living room and trying to ignore the tight hand of anxiety closing around my chest, it hit me…
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I will never be perfect.
Not next year.
Not on the other side of this trial.
Not when I’m sixty.
Not even on the day I die.
And I don’t know if that thought is jarring to you. It is to me.
Because I know the theology of it all. And I would tell you that I never for one minute would think that I will be perfect this side of heaven, but then I catch myself tied up in anxious knots over my own failures to be perfect.
There’s always something nagging at me telling me that if I could just learn to do this or be more consistent at that or learn not to react those ways then I would be okay.
But the truth is, I will never be okay…ever.
Because my definition of okay is perfect. And I will never be perfect.
I can’t be. I’m a broken, sinful person in a fallen world who is slowly, painfully, beautifully being remade by the God of miracles.
And His greatest miracle of all is that He can take a broken human like me and make me perfect. Because He will make me perfect, but that work won’t be completed till heaven.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
I won’t be complete and perfect before that day, I know that, but I also know that He is working His good work in me every day that I am alive on this earth.
So when I pray…
“Never let me doubt You or lose faith”
”Keep me from failing ever again”
”Don’t let me make this mistake anymore”
”Let me always seek You first”…
When I pray these things, I know that because I am human and sinful, these prayers cannot be answered. It is inevitable that I will fail and sin and lose faith again. And not just again, but again and again and again.
But by God’s abundance mercy, I can instead pray, ”Lord keep me from failing and falling, but thank you that when I do fail and doubt and stumble, You still love me and have already forgiven me and will be right there to catch me.”
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He will not love me less when I struggle because He already knows that I will.
Instead, He will use those struggles to build my faith and to draw me closer to Him. And in one of His grandest miracles of all, He has promised that He can turn even my sinful failings into good opportunities for growth in me and for His glory to shine through me.
Although I know I’ll never be perfect this side of heaven, I do know that He is working in me to make me perfect once I reach heaven. And when I do sin and doubt and fall, He can use even those wrongs for His glory and my good.
I will never achieve perfect.
The anxiety driving me to do and be more and get better will never be satisfied through accomplishment. But it can be satisfied in the arms of a Savior who promises to work in and through me and my failings, and who promises that someday, not in this life but in the next, He will make me perfectly like Him.
What a miraculous gift for my anxious soul.