I'm a recovering perfectionist. A friend of mine would call it approval addiction. I know its roots, where the hunger originates. The greatest symtom of this dis-ease is an obsession with trying to be perfect, obsessing over doing perfect, preoccupation with producing perfect . There is no room in this "ism" for growing in grace. There is just a ravenous need to get everything right.
God has a serious sense of humor. Because His antidote to the inordinate quest for perfection is failure. How deeply I've had to learn these lessons. The gift in every failure I've opened is that I learn once again God loves me. Not my credentials, not my finesse, not my accomplishments, just me. His kid. Among so many other beloved brothers and sisters. I remember a sweet sentiment I heard years ago: our picture would be on His fridgerator.
I'm pondering this. Seriously. I feel a tug in my soul to walk an unfamiliar path. I feel like God is asking me to travel a new road, with new challenges, and new tests; I feel so unprepared. Golly Gee! The perfectionist in me is rising up, straining against the recognition that I'm His kid, that He loves me, that He doesn't expect me to know everything, that He just wants me to give myself to the new adventure. And the old fears keep me paralyzed, holstered, immobilized. The temptation is to not even start because I cannot start as an expert. I must begin as a novice, an amatuer, one who pursues something because of love. All I have to bring to the table is love. There is no expertise. There isn't really even a clue as to how to begin.
But God keeps calling.
Keeps reaffirming the call.
Keeps confirming the new path.
What am I to do with my unkempt self in the face of Divine Longing that Yearns for me to move forward? I have to take a step. Unsure. Wobbly. Uncertain.
I've just recently finished Beth Moore's study of James. It's been life changing for me. And I love in particular the Divine picture of perfection James paints. Here is what he has to say about the whole thing:
Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4, NASB)The scripture uses the image of perfection, but it is not unblemished. In fact, it is the blemishes, the scars of trying and failing and getting back up again, that manifests this perfection. The Greek term is teleios, meaning mature (consummated) from going through the necessary stages to reach the end-goal, i.e. developed into a consummating completion by fulfilling the necessary process (see http://concordances.org/greek/5046.htm). So James urges us on in our journey, calling us to be joyful in the trials and testing. Because the thing God is really asking of us and seeking from us is endurance. We just have to keep showing up everyday and trying the new thing. And failing. And falling. And getting up again. And getting up again. And getting up . . . .
And it is this constant oneing of ourselves to the path that produces the thing we yearn for the most--perfection. Completion. A maturation that is lacking in nothing. We can trust the journey to give us everything we need to be everything we long for. There is no magic pill. There is no spiritual ab sculpter. There are no shortcuts. There is just the path ahead, a Savior who beckons, and the daily determination to get up again and get going. And truly that is ALL we need. Anything else is just a lie of the devil who is just so jealous of us he'll do anything to keep us from putting one foot in front of the other, including trying to convince us we don't have what it takes.
The truth we have to hold onto is that we have everything we need. Because we are His kids. And in His eyes, we are already perfect for the path He's called us to.