The word I keep coming back to is “perfection.” It has so many different voices, different faces, different connotations. But the one thing that will always and forever remain the same about this word is the fact that as humans, we will never ever…ever reach perfection.
Therein lies the problem: we can’t reach what we want. And let’s be honest, deep down all of us want to be perfect…or at least taste a glimpse of what perfection could be. But you see…the problem with perfection is that it leaves no room for humanity. It leaves no room for mistakes. It leaves no room for “I’m sorry.” It leaves no room for forgiveness. It leaves no room for growth.
And what, friends, is wrong with growth?
When did it become so cool to act like we have everything together?
When did it become okay to get defensive and pretend like we’ve done nothing wrong?
When did it become acceptable to constantly point out flaws in others?
I don’t know.
Over the past few weeks there has been something in the water. I don’t know what I and the people around me have been drinking, but there seems to be something fishy going around. We’ve set the bar for ourselves with a trophy waiting for us once we get there, but it’s almost like we’re expecting the trophy to be handed to us. We’re not willing to work for it. We’re afraid to mess up. We’re afraid to ask for help. We’re afraid to seem weak.
So what do we do? We button up our jackets, straighten our ties, curl our hair, shine our shoes and go through the motions because we think that getting what we want is solely about our actions. But in reality, half of the battle is fought with our attitudes.
Whatever trophy we’re trying to get won’t be gotten by putting on a pretty face and going through the motions. We have to look at the trophy with the mindset of believing that we will one day have it in our hands. We have to believe that, even when it gets hard, saying or doing the wrong thing won’t deter us from getting what we want. We have to have the mindset of realizing that life isn’t easy, but life is good.
When I was a little girl, I really wanted to play the game Sorry. For those of you that don’t know, there is a label on the box that says, “For ages 3+” At the age of two, my dad told me that I had to wait to play until I was 3. Boy, when I turned 3 was I a happy camper! I could not WAIT to play Sorry. However, being the compassionate, little 3 year old that I was, I felt bad when I would play and would win. (I found it strange because I didn’t really know what I was doing at that age. now that I think about it, my dad probably let me win. But nonetheless, I felt bad.) So, because I felt bad, I would either “let my dad have my turn,” or try to lose on purpose so that he could have a chance at winning. This trickled into other areas of my life as I got older–especially when it came to sports. My dad would constantly tell me, “Jayna, if you’re gonna play, play to win. There has to be a winner and it might as well be you.” At the age of 8 when I first started playing soccer, it was a good reminder to try my best and not feel bad if my team won and the other team didn’t. At the age of 16, it was a good reminder to put my best foot forward when I started my first job. At the age of 20, it is a good reminder to have a positive attitude.
If I don’t think I’m going to do well, I’m not going to do well. If I don’t think a situation is going to go well, it’s not going to go well. It’s all about perspective. There is wisdom in the way you look at things, but there is also hope. Hope is a dangerously beautiful thing that I think we too often neglect. Wisdom and hope leave room for mistakes. They leave room for growth. They leave room for forgiveness. They leave room for humanity.
When the bar is set and the trophy is in sight, I can look on with hope of one day reaching that goal. With wisdom I can asses how best to achieve what I want. And when I make a mistake, when I fall short, I can breath. Why? Because I can’t be perfect. The bar that I’ve set for myself should not be one of perfection–I don’t want to set myself up for failure. My hope is not built on what I can do, but rather what Jesus has done for me.
So there has to be a shift. Because when you’re trying to be perfect, you’re often blinded to the fact that you’re not actually perfect. When you seriously convince yourself that you’re doing something well and choose not to care or listen to the opinions of others, you ignore truth. You ignore the fact that you’re flawed. You ignore the fact that you can be wrong. You ignore your fear.
We’ve gotta stop that. In the wise words of my boss, “We’ve got to give ourselves a break. We’ve got to own our actions, take a step back, and realize that it’s okay to mess up.”
There is something so beautiful and so amazing about letting life happen. Yes, life is hard. Yes, life sucks sometimes. But it goes on. We grow. We change, and we become stronger because of it.
I don’t want to sound cliche, I don’t want to come across as naive, but y’all…this needs to be heard:
WE ARE NOT MEANT TO BE PERFECT AND THAT IS 100% OKAY.
SO WHY DO WE KEEP TRYING TO BE SOMETHING THAT WE LITERALLY CAN NEVER BE?
Aiming for perfection is exhausting. It’s more draining to cover up my mistakes and convince others that I haven’t messed up than it is to admit that I’m wrong and say,”I’m sorry.” And y’all, I’m just as guilty of trying to perfect as the next person, but I’m dang tired of standing in the courtroom waiting for the judge to bang his gavel so I can receive my sentence.
[Lord, You are good. You and You alone are perfect. God, can you teach me what it’s like to be more like You and see how you share your perfection with us through Your amazing grace? May there be a drastic change, one that I don’t even believe is possible.]