on being perfect :: final thoughts

{part one & part two here; just some thoughts after hearing an impactful speech}

I have no words that will release you into never struggling again with perfectionism.

This post may even disappoint and bring on more questions than answers.

I can however, point towards a few directions that caused a change of mentality and attitude :: that radically rocked this walk with a holy God.

Early in our marriage, we came across a book just released whose title pulled the reader in.  My husband read chapters and quickly attempted to peak my interest as well.  I was not hooked.  In the Grip of Grace? Really?  Through my mind came the usual and often heard responses to that word grace ::

“Oh, grace is wimpy isn’t it?  It’s for those who are trying to get away with sin, who want God to cover-up their mistakes with quick forgiveness.  He’s a holy God!  He has standards!  Grace is only a way out….”

What a serious lack of understanding.

almondblossom

In the first few pages of this book (yes, I did finally concede to reading) the author tells the story of several brothers who have failed their father by running away.  Each one’s response to their wrongdoing is described as only Max Lucado can do.

One gives up and becomes like the people around him, believing a way back to the father is impossible.  Another is so angry at this brother and chooses to carefully watch & record the wrong being done (therefore ignoring his own misdeeds).  And one son does return when the messenger comes with an announcement that the father is awaiting them all.

But is was the fourth son that caused me to stop flipping pages and read this story multiple times.  One son…he couldn’t accept a way back to the father when the messenger arrived.  Simply return after what he had done?

Just go with this messenger?

Instead, this son chooses to try and work his way back into favor.  Instead of accepting the ride home, he tries to build a new way back home.  It was impossible, the journey too long.  And yet, he works and works and works…

Unable to accept that the way home was to ride the messenger’s back, this son slaves away with little success that he cannot see will never work; he is so proud of the accomplishment that is destined to fail.  He was unable to accept a father who was granting him favor, a way to himself, that the son had not earned.

He couldn’t accept grace.

almondblossom2

I could relate to this son and the striving; the cringing inside when I failed and the attempt to ‘not ever do that again’, whatever THAT was.  The attempt of perfectionism block’s ones view.

First, there is the pride issue and the belief that ‘all is well when I do well—and I really haven’t done much wrong’, which is false at best.  Then, when there is inevitable failure or mistakes, perfectionism breeds a condemning attitude : ‘What was I thinking?  How could I have been so…(fill in the blank)?’  So efforts are doubled up, reinforcements put in place :: legalism established or restored.

What a vicious cycle that kills the spirit!  Oh, we need grace.

What is this grace all about?

I offer simple thoughts, not great theology.  Grace is what makes up the difference.  It is the undeserved favor of God that will ‘fill in the blanks’ when we come up short.  And we always will.  We are responsible to do our part, but God already knows that our very best, even if it could be perfect all of the time, will always fall short to what is needed.  This could be a depressing thought, except for His grace (Eph 2: 8-9).

Because grace makes up the difference. God already provided a way for those of us who tend to lean towards the striving, the gaining of success by our efforts alone, the thinking we may actually have it all together.  Grace keeps me from being caught up in who I am supposed to be and accepting of who I am—and who God is through me (I Cor 15:10).

As mothers, wives, as women on this journey…we need grace.  Not only for ourselves, but also for those who follow.

Lord, grant us understanding.

***************

If you or anyone else battles with this concept of grace as I did, I highly recommend ~

The book of Romans :: by far the best explanation of this often misunderstood concept of grace.  Read it front to back, over & over, asking the Lord to illuminate the truths within the words.  He will.

The Grip of Grace by Max Lucado :: an extension of understanding Romans in simple, everyday language.  Excellent!

***************

the whole series:

part one:  a reformed perfectionist

part two:  perfectionism is insecurity.  insecurity is fear.

final thoughts:  in the grip of grace

photo credit

Want to share your thoughts? Click here to send me an email.