Purpose or Perfection

October 13, 2014

image via @isleofview, text by Lara Casey

I’m starting today’s post by sharing a poem written by a friend of mine. Where it says my name (Charity), feel free to insert yours to make it more personal!

Earlier today I sat down for tea and decided to invite Perfection to join me:

Me: Hello, Perfection.

Perfection: Hello, Charity.

Me: How are you today?

Perfection: Perfect, as always.

Me: Oh, that must be nice.

Perfection: Yeah, it’s pretty awesome actually.

Me: I’d like to be perfect too, and I’m wondering how you do it.

Perfection laughed and replied:

It’s SO easy. I don’t DO anything.

Me: You don’t do anything?

Perfection: Yes, I don’t do anything, create anything, or say anything. You see, I am FULL of great ideas- I mean FANTASTIC ideas. And they all play out in my head quite nicely. But that’s where I keep them- in my head.

Me: Why?

Perfection: Because this protects me. If they came to life, they would surely not be perfect, and then I’d open myself up to all sorts of nasty things.

Me: Like what?

Perfection: Like criticism, self- doubt, anxiety, comparison, failure…I don’t want to deal with those feelings.

Me: But isn’t it frustrating having so many great ideas that you never see come to life?

Perfection: Of course it is! But feeling protected and perfect is much more comfortable than feeling insecure and vulnerable. And my priority is to always feel comfortable.

Me: Perfection, you are much more clever than I gave you credit for! I’m hoping you can give me a good answer to a question I’m totally stumped on.

Perfection: Oh, I’m sure I could! What’s your question?

Me: My question is: How do I create something great AND feel safe doing it?

Perfection paused for a moment, looked at me, and gently smiled:

I’m sorry, Charity. You can’t. You can either be friends with ME or with your Dreams.

That was the last time I invited Perfection to tea.–Written by Nicole Guarascio

 Perfection is a tricky thing. It cloaks itself as something wonderful to achieve, a goal to attain, and yet, like we see in the poem above, it traps us in inactivity due to our fears of imperfection. Fear is a killer. But perfectionism has killed more dreams than fear ever will.

“What great thing would you attempt if you knew you could not fail?” – Robert Schuller

Have you heard the quote above? It brings to mind all the ideas, thoughts, and plans that might have been acted on if someone just knew the future and were able to see that they couldn’t fail, regardless of what it looked like in the beginning. I sometimes wish I had a magnifying glass to let me take a closer look at the future and see what it would really be like. Sadly, we don’t have that. We don’t have any way of knowing that our efforts won’t fail. That they won’t actually work. Or that they will. (Of course, we could redefine the word failure, but that’s another topic for another time.)

Paul said it this way: “Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude, and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” – Philippians 3:12-16.

We’ve all read the Scripture to the point where it says “I press toward the mark…” but how about the reference to perfection that Paul mentions? We know Paul was a scholar, a very educated person and extremely well-versed, we see this in his letters that make up the majority of the New Testament. But why do you think he included this perfection reference in there? Perhaps because humans haven’t changed since the days the Bible was written? Regardless of what century we live in, people have always sought perfection. And discovered it’s unattainability. If we were perfect we wouldn’t need God. And we wouldn’t need the purpose He places upon each of us. The photo above scratches out Perfect to replace it with Purpose. Isn’t that much greater? I may not be able to be perfect, but with God’s mercy I can fulfill my purpose. Day by day. Minute by minute. Achieving purpose by power through prayer on my knees.

Perfection itself can be defined as “a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.” The highest degree of excellence. The highest. There will always be somone greater than you, namely God. How can we attain His level of perfection? We can’t. And we can’t be afraid to not do anything  simply because we can’t attain that. We must move forward, realizing that God has a purpose for us, and He does not expect perfection. (We were made in His image, but due to sin, we are unable to be perfect as He is. Since He created us, I think He’s pretty well aware of how imperfect we truly are.) Let’s look at fear for a second. One of my favorite definitions of Fear is the following: “a distressing emotion aroused by impending danger, evil, pain, etc. whether the threat is real or imagined.” I laughed out loud when I read this definition. “Whether the threat is real or imagined.” How many times do we get stuck in fear of an imagined fear? It’s not even real. I think I could tell myself that a couple times a day when I get apprehensive of something that could happen but hasn’t even happened yet.

How about we cast perfection aside and focus on our purpose? I propose we say that done is better than perfect. I believe that we should put 100% of our effort and skill into our projects but don’t hold ourselves to unattainable standards due to doubt or fear. Start applying works to our faith in God and His perfect guidance in our lives. What is He calling you to? Is it a blog? Getting more involved at your local church? Writing? Reaching out at school or at work? Bible Studies? Loving your family more?

I end with one last scripture. I John 4:18 (ESV) “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear.” There is no greater love than Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary for us. It is a perfect love. A love that gave everything. It seems that when we say “God, you’re not enough to help me achieve this purpose” we are not only allowing our desire for perfection (our fear of imperfection) to hold us back, but we are also rejecting His perfect love. He is offering His love and grace to us and gently urging us to fulfill our purpose to the best of our abilities. He has a purpose for each of us, and His qualifications are not perfection.

So, I leave you with a question:

“What purpose could you fulfill if you rejected perfection and decided God was greater than your fears?”