When I was growing up I developed this deep need to be perfect – to do everything perfectly and say everything perfectly. Being a people-pleaser, I never wanted others to be upset with me, so I just tried to be perfect all the time so as not to rock the boat.
As I grew in my walk with the Lord, I realized that this just isn’t the way to live! For starters, it’s IMPOSSIBLE to be perfect. I’ve definitely learned this MANY times (like just the other day when I was trying not to snack late at night with my hubby who was enjoying a midnight snack of fried chicken, corn casserole, and baked beans and won’t-gain-a-pound-for-it and I was standing there sipping water. I finally caved and ate 1/2 a bag of cereal. Then I felt pretty bad about that decision! :-)).
But this expectation of perfection has crept into my Mommy-ing. For example, we were at church about two months ago and Noah threw a little fit during community group because he wanted to be running around instead of confined to his stroller. Later that night when Ryan came home and was telling Noah what a good boy he was I caught myself thinking, “Yes, he’s such a good boy, except for when he throws fits in front of all our friends.”
For the next couple of hours I had to hold back this feeling that it was hard to forgive Noah for making me feel embarrassed in front of friends.
Then there was the time Ryan and I were singing in a wedding for our friends and I had arranged for a good friend to hold Noah while we sang. As soon as I passed him off and Ryan and I were headed for the front of the church, we heard Noah’s blood-curdling screams penetrating the background of our friends’ quiet, evening ceremony. They didn’t stop for the entire time we performed. When we got home that night and Noah was peacefully sleeping in his crib, I called my friend and told her all about the embarrassing evening and how Noah’s cries would forever be in our friends’ wedding video. My friend laughed and said, “Julie, he’s a baby. Babies cry. It’s what they do. Noah is such a good boy.” And I found myself thinking, “Yes, he’s such a good boy, except for when he screams his head off at my friends’ wedding.”
Again, I had this gnawing feeling that it was difficult to forgive Noah for making such a scene at the wedding.
Then there was two days ago. As many of you know, I am really excited about this whole blogging thing and I’ve been working a little bit every day to post something fun for Mommies. I got the idea for the Back to School Treasure Hunt (posted in Back to School Traditions) and had been working on a draft for it for several days. I was putting the finishing touches on it when Noah came toddling into the computer room, reached up and grabbed the computer mouse and deleted the entire post. ONE SECOND after the post was deleted the Autosave program saved my new blank draft. I was devastated. I tried everything I could think of to recover the draft I had been working on but to no avail. It was gone. I felt frustrated that Noah had deleted all my hard work. Later when we were leaving to go somewhere and Noah was holding his daddy’s hand and walking down the front walk of our home and I was locking the door, Ryan said, “Noah, you’re such a good boy.” And in my head I thought, “Yes, he’s such a good boy, except for when he accidentally deleted my blog post!”
Before the thought had finished in my head, the Lord convicted me.
First of all, I was brought to the forehead slapping realization that a. Noah is a BABY who does Baby-like things such as cry and curiously pull computer mice off of desks. and b. I am simply upset because his actions were hurting my aspirations of making everyone think that I am perfect – how controlling of me! It’s like I want Noah to be my little puppet instead of have him grow into the man God intends him to be! and c. As Noah gets older and his flawed nature does come out, am I always going to harbor this “You’re a good boy except for when” attitude toward him? Will I love him conditionally – based on his behavior or performance?
Phew! This is some serious convicting! I could probably write a 1,209,567,389 page blog about this particular topic!
But I’ll keep it simple. Bottom Line – JESUS does not treat us with an attitude of “You’re wonderful, Julie, except for when…” His attitude is more like, “You’re wonderful, Julie. You’re so wonderful that I endured the pain of the cross so that your imperfections could be washed away and you could enjoy heaven one day with me as well as reap the benefits of following me here on earth. I love you unconditionally. You’re beautiful – absolutely perfect because of what I’ve done in your life.”
Look at these verses from Psalm 103…
“8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love…
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”
Isn’t it magical that our Father will forgive our imperfections and not find any difficulty in forgetting them? His love for us is certainly not based on our behavior – and BOY, AM I GLAD ABOUT THAT!
Having a perfectionist attitude is dangerous because we can develop a false assurance that we are a good person. We’re so good at acting perfect all the time that we miss the deeply-rooted sin struggles in our heart. I’ve spent many years of my life completely oblivious to some of the strongholds in my life (ie. pride, insecurity, trying to please man instead of God, jealousy, etc., etc.!). As Christians, and as Christian parents, we must be familiar with our imperfections so that we rely on the One who can perfect them! This is such beautiful modeling for our children – they NEED to see our weaknesses and have theirs pointed out (especially when they are young) so that they will grow in their dependence on the Lord.
Lately I have really been asking God to remove this desire for perfection – this craving for the approval of man – so that I don’t project that expectation on my precious little boy. When he does make mistakes, I am going to be quick to forgive and point him to Christ. And when I make mistakes – and I KNOW there will be PLENTY more – I’m going to seek Noah’s forgiveness when appropriate and the Lord’s forgiveness always because we CAN’T be perfect on our own. Perfection only comes from being covered by JESUS.
No exceptions there!