Perfectionism is a cruel mistress and for years, I struggled with it.
I used to do some woodworking as a hobby and would frequently get frustrated by some flaw in the finished product. I’d watch TV shows about woodworking and often find solutions to make the wood line up more perfectly with undetectable, flawless joints and seams –all made possible, of course, by the latest, greatest power tool. The host of the show had a shop with tools in it that had to have cost more than the house I was living in at the time.
Then, my wife and I built a house. Yes, I hired some contractors to do some of the work, but I did much of it myself. At one point, I was putting up some trim and was frustrated at some imperfection in the finished product. As I stood there trying to figure out how to fix it, my wonderful wife asked what was wrong and I pointed out the flaw. She looked at it and said, “Sweetheart, you are the only person in the world who would ever notice that.”
And, just like that, she opened a door to freedom I had never known before. When I gave myself permission to be a little imperfect, life got much, much easier.
In fact, if you look around you, there seems to be a growing interest in things that are rustic and homey. Rusted metal and weathered wood are now cool.
In the middle of all this, there’s a verse Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 11:30:
“If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.” (NLT)
When I first read that verse years ago, part of me thought Paul was nuts. It made no sense. If we look at it in context, Paul is writing to the Corinthians about how he came to them in weakness and made himself a fool for them. He goes on for a whole chapter about this and then, as we get into Chapter 12, Paul relates that even though God had exalted him with an experience of glory beyond comprehension, he still had his famous “thorn in the flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud.” (Verse 7.)
And that’s where the light bulb went on in my head. Pride –the first and original sin. God opposes the proud.
Then we come to the next stumbling stone, verses 8-10 of 2 Corinthians, Chapter 12:
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
God’s power works best in me when I am humble. And, if it takes insults, hardships, persecutions, troubles, and a couple pieces of trim that don’t line up just perfectly to remind me that I fall way, way short of the glory of God and His holiness, that’s a good thing.
The astounding part is that even though I’m not a master woodworker with a million dollars in tools, God Himself has chosen me and all my imperfections to be part of His eternal plan, not because He needs me to accomplish that plan, but because He wants me.
He’s chosen you, too. So, if the enemy of your soul is whispering in your ear that you’re not smart enough, not wise enough, not good enough to be part of what God is doing, tell him to go stand behind Jesus where he belongs (Matthew 16:23) and don’t let cruel perfectionism prevent you from saying, “Yes!” to what God has planned for your life. (Ephesians 2:10)
2 Corinthians 4:7
We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. (NLT)