It’s Not About Perfection

So what is it like living in your world? Does everyone have to agree, be perfect, do the right thing, never show flaws, believe in lockstep, look good? Do you have to perform, never make a mistake, be seen to be above reproach, hide your true feelings, swallow your tongue, avert your eyes, pretend?

In a world that craves integrity and thirsts for authenticity we struggle to embrace the full spectrum of what that means and looks like. Perhaps one of the reasons is that while we applaud these attributes we seldom provide a safe environment where imperfection, mistakes, and failure, are not met with judgement, horror, or disqualification. Instead, many of us put up a façade, deny vehemently the threat of exposure, fight back with ‘fake news’, or blame and accuse to deflect attention and responsibility. It is stressful and impossible – yet we continue the farce at every level of society – in politics, at work, in church, among friends, even at home.

Over time, just as cream rises to the top, so does truth.

The easy targets to illustrate these truth are politicians of course. But they are not alone. After all, we voted. Why is it that virtually every popular leader voted into office with ecstatic acclaim seldom basks in the popular glow of affirmation for long?

What would it be like to be seen, warts and all – and accepted. No Botox, no jet black hair coloring on a geriatric face, no need to impress or fit in to what we think others want from us. That’s precisely the community Jesus desired to encourage and nurture to life. He provided space for his followers to stumble and fail. He made room for questions and sometimes patiently waited until they were teachable. That is the greatest good news about Christianity – seeing every person as unique, imperfect, deeply valued and loved. Discipline and rules are guidelines and yardsticks for growth and behavior; but love and encouragement are the ingredients to promote growth from the inside out. Believing in someone when they struggle to believe in themselves. Jesus responded to people in the messy birds nest of life. Breathing into their lives hope like someone blowing on ashes to reignite flames. The people whisperer; “It’s ok, I’m here, we can do this.”

We abandon flawed people way too easily.

That does not imply that we don’t each have to take responsibility for our actions, and navigate the consequences. Tough love is a healthy portion of the pie. Judging and pointing out wrong is really easy to do. It’s moving on from there constructively that demands more from us. It means that when we are willing to ‘own our stuff’ there will be many equally willing to gather around and help us do better next time – while remaining among the community where we have struggled. Not being cast out. And we will do the same for others. Everyone gets a turn, eventually. Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. John 13:34 Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:31

There was a recent interview on CNN with a man who stated that he could easily have been a school shooter but for… The interview never makes excuses for terrible deeds, but it underscores how often the perpetrator might be one who feels unseen.

The best way I have learned how to help another to be truthful and authentic is to lead the way. If I’m not willing to allow you to hear and see my weaknesses and strengths, why would you feel safe or inclined to reveal your ‘less than perfect self’ with me? Sometimes authenticity is a risk that backfires. Not everyone responds well or fairly, many will not reciprocate – pride is powerful. Christians should be models of this approach to living and relationships because Jesus was the best. We still have a long way to go.

The thing is, we don’t have to even be authentic perfectly. But the least we can do is try. Let’s try to be authentic and honest, handling truth with humility and huge respect. Perhaps consider allowing more people to share in our life journey when we did not show up as a better version of ourselves. In doing so someone else may find hope. The revelation of failure or mistakes is not the end of the world. It should be a moment of relief as finally the opportunity for change and restoration is before us.

I only write this of course because I have so much experience of these matters myself. 🙂

And then, what about all the things we keep trying to change and we trip up again, and again, and again? We’re in good company. Paul, one of the great Christian intellects of the early church authentically shared the same struggle. Be encouraged – for yourself, and others. Grace all around, as much as it takes.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Why God – Lyrics – Austin French

Why God
Do people have to die?
A daughter or a son
Sudden and so young
Long before their time?

Why God
Do people fall apart?
A promise and a ring
Becomes a broken thing
A road that got too hard?

I don’t understand
But I understand

Why God, I need You
It’s, why God, I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It’s, why God, I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find, You are right by my side

Why God
Do we feel so alone?
Every single day
Fighting through the pain
Hoping there is hope?

I don’t understand
But I understand

Why God, I need You
It’s, why God, I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It’s why God, I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find, You are right by my side, ooh…

Give me a faith stronger than I have
I need to know when it hurts this bad
That You hold my heart when it breaks
And I’m not alone in this place

That’s why God, I need You
Why God, I run to Your arms
Over and over again
It’s, why God, I cling to Your love
And hold on for dear life
And I find, You are right by my side
Always right by my side
Even here in the why… God

Songwriters: James Rueger / Jeffrey Thomas Pardo / Austin French / Mia Leanne Cherie Fieldes

Why God lyrics © Be Essential Songs

John Cox

Christian Author

2 comments

  • Thank you John, you have a way of putting in to words what many of us, or at least me can see, where this is leading to the need of complete reliance in the hand of our God. What do I hear? ” Peace be with You” says my and Your Lord

Leave a Reply