“How can I encourage her in that direction when there are so many Christians who do bad things? Christians who are hypocrites?”
My response was to remind her that nobody is or ever has been perfect, except Jesus. While I believe this to be truth, my words still seemed to ring hollow. What she wanted to hear was that Christianity makes one perfect, makes the world in which we live perfect -- and therefore safe -- for her beloved child.
I heard a yearning for perfection in her words and in her heart.
The “nobody’s perfect” theme is one we tell ourselves every day, especially when we’re parenting children. As moms, we’re told we need to embrace the messiness of life. The imperfection. The errors. The chaos. Especially if we want to raise children who are okay making mistakes, trying new things and taking risks.
Recently, I read an enlightening article by Sandy Blackard, author, parenting expert and founder of Language of Listening, entitled “How to help a perfectionist child.” Blackard takes a new spin on the subject of "perfect."
I know it may sound backwards, but from a perfectionist child’s point of view, being told it is OK to mess up, show emotion and not care what her friends think, is telling her she is wrong to be herself, even if that is not your intention. Acceptance is the missing element in shifting perfectionism from an anxiety-ridden malady to a gift of excellence. Once she knows it’s OK to be the way she is (no matter what that is), she can naturally start to relax about it.
Isn’t it true that we do long for perfection? And yet we’re faced every day with the fact that nothing and no one is perfect. In fact, we live in a broken world. People can be stunningly cruel, whether with words or by the sword. There is stridency, criminality, heartlessness and darkness surrounding us. Even Christians (since they are, in fact, human beings!) are sinful, doing and saying the wrong things, responding in less-than-perfect ways, sometimes in the worst ways possible. This conflict between longing for perfection and facing the realities of imperfection leads to a kind of suffering in our souls.
Scripture says this:
For we know that even the things of nature, like animals and plants, suffer in sickness and death as they await this great event. And even we Christians, although we have the Holy Spirit within us as a foretaste of future glory, also groan to be released from pain and suffering. We, too, wait anxiously for that day when God will give us our full rights as his children, including the new bodies he has promised us—bodies that will never be sick again and will never die. Romans 8:22-25
We long for perfect. For the perfect response. For the perfect action. For the perfect love.
And it was delivered to us right in the midst of our imperfect, broken and messy world on Christmas Day in the form of Emmanuel, “God with us.” He was (and is!) perfect. His every response while he walked on the earth was perfect. He never sinned. He never made the wrong choice, although He was provoked, ridiculed, betrayed and tempted. I believe He planted this yearning for perfection in our hearts because it’s a yearning for HIM. It’s a yearning for Heaven, where He has prepared a place – a perfect place -- for each one of us who accepts His gift.
As we enter a new year, notice the next time you feel that deep yearning for perfection in your nation, your neighborhood, your home, your parenting or marriage. Try honoring it instead of telling yourself that you’re wrong to experience it.
Recognize it as an awareness of our need for Christ.
It’s true the yearning will not be met here on earth, but we are promised that a day is coming when we will experience perfection – fully and totally, in the presence of God Almighty.
Maybe someone you know needs to hear this today. At NBS2GO, we are grateful for the freedom and opportunity to share Jesus with others in our homes, neighborhoods and during the business of living our daily lives.
Find more Fresh Stories here!
Erica Rountree is a freelance writer and the communications director at Action Ministries Inc. She lives and works in Marietta, Georgia, where she’s a member of a neighborhood Bible study and mama to two girls who constantly outsmart her and drive her to drink sweet tea.