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I give up. I can’t do it. No matter how hard I try, I can’t be perfect. I can’t imagine why I ever thought I could, since I know scriptures like Romans 7:18,”For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing, for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.”
But still I have struggled much too long for perfection–in ministry, marriage, mothering, housekeeping, hospitality, looks, and relationships-believing that with enough effort, I could reach an impossible goal. Whenever I’ve detected my defects, I’ve poured buckets of self-reproach on my poor head, drenching myself with guilt. This is not a fun way to live, and it’s not God’s way. It’s true that 1 John 2:1 says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not,” but then (hooray!) the verse continues, “and if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Knowing that there would be people like me, the Lord says, “Don’t sin. But since of course you will, here’s a Savior.”
What a relief! I can do my best without expecting to always be The Best. I can calmly confess my faults to the Lord and to others (as though they didn’t know them already). I can easily acknowledge blemishes and admit the flaws of that woman in the mirror. I look forward to having some good laughs at myself.
The people in my little world are going to be relieved. Not just because I’ve finally come to my senses, but because now I’ll no longer expect them to be perfect, either. Criticism is such an easy job that once a critic finishes with herself, she has plenty of time to move right on to everybody else in the house, in the neighborhood, in the church. But when she stops taking herself so seriously, she becomes much more generous with the imperfections of others.
Oh, someday I’ll be perfect, on that day when He presents me “faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy” (Jude 1:24). You won’t recognize me then, because I’m finally going to be as flawless as I long to be–exactly like Him! Until then, I’m going to be content as my not-so-perfect but always-trying-to-please-Him self: “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12).
Do you have a backache from carrying around your own burden of perfection? I’m not surprised. It’s a ministry wife malady. Dump it! It’s much too heavy a load to carry, and the Lord isn’t the One Who laid it on you. Let awareness of your own sin send you scurrying to the cross, not sinking into the Slough of Despond. The faithful and just One is waiting there for you, and He will be glad to see you coming.