read this blog entry yesterday, the pitfall of perfectionism, on tullian tchividjian’s blog (who by the way is billy graham’s grandson. he spent a number of years as a prodigal surfing and avoiding anything to do with Christianity).
the last part of the post really resonated with me... it was written about some Christians who were struggling with the ideal of perfectionism. what they HAD to do as Christians. what they SHOULD do as Christians. or what the HAD NOT done. i can totally identify as one who struggles with what i SHOULD be doing. what i COULD be doing. what is the RIGHT thing to do. how do i do this life all the MOSTEST CORRECTEST way at all times?
But what would Jesus have told them? We don’t have to guess: “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).
Perfectionism (or performancism) is a horrible disease. It comes from the pit of hell, smelling like rotting flesh. Someone convinced these folks that they were called to measure up to an unattainable standard. They couldn’t do it and each in his or her own way simply quit trying.
Nobody told them that Jesus was perfect for them, and because of that they didn’t have to be perfect for themselves. They didn’t understand that if Jesus makes you free, you will be free indeed.
Christian, please remember that Jesus plus nothing equals everything. That,
Because Jesus was strong for you, you’re free to be weak;
Because Jesus won for you, you’re free to lose;
Because Jesus was Someone, you’re free to be no one;
Because Jesus was extraordinary, you’re free to be ordinary;
Because Jesus succeeded for you, you’re free to fail.
Preaching the gospel is the only thing that helps us take our eyes off ourselves and how we’re doing and fix our eyes on Christ, the author and perfecter of our faith. Jesus fulfilled all of God’s perfect conditions so that our relationship to God could be perfectly unconditional.
i tend to be constantly evaluating how i am doing. how i am measuring up. which of course puts the focus back on me. i am always searching for books to tell me the BEST way, the RIGHT way, the EXPEDIENT way to get it all done and do it well. and i read those books. and underline. and measure myself. constantly by my successes. or failures.
and yet, Jesus tells me i am free to fail. i don’t like to fail. i like to succeed. my life has been totally oriented toward success. as a wife. as a mother. as a woman. as a Christian. nobody celebrates failure. nobody like a loser. except Jesus. He likes losers. downright LOVES them. is CRAZY about losers. especially those who lose their life for His sake. He really likes that. there are SIX verses in the Bible that say exactly that. SIX verses. that say the same thing about losers...
Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it.
For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it.
Whoever tries to keep their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life will preserve it.
Anyone who loves their life will lose it, while anyone who hates their life in this world will keep it for eternal life.
i have felt like a loser lately. a loser that God loves. which is good.
i have felt bruised and battled. in fact one of the BEST things about the Holy Spirit is that He causes verses like this pop into my mind constantly as He reminds me of the Truth. this verse kind of describes me perfectly right now. and kind of comforts me when i am feeling at my most bruised and battled...
isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed He will not break,
and a smoldering wick He will not snuff out.
“bruised” is crushed, broken, torn into pieces, discouraged. it is in the passive voice which means that the reed has been broken or crushed NOT by its own doing, but something else crushing it (thank you google for showing me a page about understanding active vs. passive voice in the hebrew language). a “reed” can actually mean “a measuring device”. i am a discouraged measuring device these days. i have been weighed, measured, and found wanting. coming up short in several categories. i am a “bruised reed” in the total hebrew sense.
“smoldering” is smoking. not as in “smokin’ hot” (which does describe me sometimes) but in this case is a heaviness, dim, dull, faint, and restrained. which is also a “smoldering” that describes me right now. but He will not let me be totally broken. He will not snuff out a smoldering wick.
“wick” in hebrew is from the root word that means “folly, weakness, stupidity”. He will not break a reed that is bruised passively by someone else. nor will He destroy a smoldering wick that is a wick because of my own folly, weakness, or stupidity. a “smoldering wick” like me will not be destroyed either.
i love how God covers it all. the discouragement brought on us because we live in a fallen world. AND He covers the heaviness that comes from our own weaknesses.
so whether someone else has made me feel like a loser... or whether i myself am doing things that make me a loser (and both happen in the same 5 minutes these days), God’s promises that whenever i lose, He can win. whatever my heaviness, He is Light. He will carry my burden. He will carry me. MY best isn’t good enough. it never was.
His Best was on the cross. for my worst. His loss, my gain. His breaking, my healing. my imperfection, His Perfection. i am free to fail. because He won. and is winning. and will win.