"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD." Isaiah 55:8
Yet it's easy to think we know best. We know what would be perfect for us. If God could only get on the same page that our dreams are written on, things would fall into place.
We don't ask for too much, just perfection, for crying out loud. We want the perfect school experience. We want the perfect best friend. We want the perfect significant other. We want the perfect littles. We want the white-picket-fence perfect house.
Why do you think Pinterest is so popular? It gives a glimpse, even if it is just a fleeting one, at what life could look like if it were perfect. If you had time to workout everyday, had the decorating skills to rival HGTV and cooking abilities to shock Gordon Ramsey. We strive for perfection in almost every aspect of our lives.
Yet the worst place that we demand perfection is with people. I have found this to be exceptionally true in my life lately.
I want a world without collision. In a play called "Master Harold and the Boys," by Athol Fugard, one of the characters compares human interaction to ballroom dancing.
“Those are big collisions, Hally. They make for a lot of bruises. People get hurt in all that bumping, and we're sick and tired of it now. It's been going on for too long. Are we never going to get it right?...Learn to dance life like champions instead of always being just a bunch of beginners at it?”
But that's the beauty of Christ's work in our lives. He enters as a savior to a broken world, but not to declare that the imperfections experienced by us are too much for God. Instead, He sees the mess we've made of things and creates beauty from the ashes.
Yet how easy is it to demand perfection of others while completely ignoring the struggles in your own life? To see other's burdens, and instead of helping to lift them, critique them and advise them.
Then I realize that the things that I'm calling them out for struggling with are the exact same things that eat into my life.
"I would never marry a guy with a horrible temper because I have a bad temper and I need someone to even me out."
"I would never go out with someone who struggles with envy because my struggle is envy and I need someone to tell me that what I have is good enough."
"I can't be friends with someone who struggles with __________ because I struggle with ______ and I need someone to call me out and be accountable with."
I'm desiring divine fulfillment through the channels of other children of God instead of through God Himself.
We shouldn't be constantly yearning for the perfect girlfriend, boyfriend, family member, best friend or confidant, with who we can finally be ourselves and they can fix everything for us. We shouldn't be looking for another person to 'balance us out.' That's not what friendship, accountability, or marriage is about.
What if we started interacting with people not for how they could 'make us whole' or 'fix our problems' but how we could find someone to struggle towards holiness together? Instead of looking for the perfect guy/gal, realizing that they aren't out there. There is no perfect match who everything will work out with. What if we desired to experience the same issues with someone and strive towards holiness with the same goals? To know each others struggles and not condemn, but encourage? To see the beauty in the immortal soul?
C.S. Lewis once said, "There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors. This does not mean that we are to be perpetually solemn. We must play. But our merriment must be of that kind (and it is, in fact, the merriest kind) which exists between people who have, from the outset, taken each other seriously - no flippancy, no superiority, no presumption.”
What about with our relationships? Romantic and friendships? How does an obsession for perfection change those interactions? Matt Fradd had a beautiful photo that he wrote on that summarizes this fantastically:
"The next date you will go on will be with a sinner, FYI. It’s interesting to me how a line like that—the one I just wrote—doesn't shock us. Nor do people feel ashamed when they say, “Hey, I’m a sinner.” But a sinner is one who sins, right? And I never hear people act so nonchalant about the particular sins they commit, “Hey, I’m a fornicator.” But back to your next date. Swap “sinner” with one of the following and notice the difference in your reaction. The next date you will go on will be a person who is a liar/selfish/arrogant/racist/a glutton/greedy/slothful/hateful . . . See what I mean? Sin sucks." Matt Fradd
Darn it Adam and Eve, sin is here and will be until Christ comes back. But that doesn't mean that all is lost. Heck, we're all in this boat together - we've all sinned and fallen short of the beauty that God orginally had planned for us. We're bumping into people like crazy down here. We're bumbling around and trying to dance through life perfectly, but we're too busy yelling at people for dancing wrong to hear God telling us what steps go perfectly in time to the music of His plan.
Should we strive just for the perfect? Surround ourselves with only perfect people and do only perfect things? You can try, but I'm pretty sure you'll end up discouraged, lonely and doing nothing. So what is the answer? Doesn't Christ Himself call us to be perfect? He says so in the Bible in Matthew 5:43-48 - "
So are we called to perfection? Not in the sense that we will never stumble, never fall, never collide (if we could, we wouldn't need the sacrament of confession).
God loves perfectly, with an Agape type love that has no conditions. He doesn't keep a score card, tallying up the times we were imperfect so that he can punish us at the end of our lives. Rather, He desires our good and our fullness, and loves accordingly.
Our love towards our neighbor (ie, everyone in the world) should mirror His perfect love. It won't be a perfect reflection because our sins get in the way. But to look at other people and will the good of the other as other? That's striving for loving perfection. We'll miss the mark. We'll fall down, get scraped up and have to dust ourselves off.
But there is beauty in the imperfection and holiness that can arise from the realization of our faults.
Thank Heaven for a God who can love the imperfect perfectly.