There is no denying that we live in a society that values perfection.
If you look around, there are signs of it everywhere. Magazines advertise lotions and creams that smooth wrinkles and remove age spots. Are you loosing hair? No problem there are creams and shampoos waiting to help fill in the thinning patches. You are told of make-ups that will minimize flaws in our skin and, if that doesn’t work, there are always injections or plastic surgery. You can tuck your tummy, enlarge your breasts, lift your chin, transplant your hair, shape your buttocks, enlarge your pecks, vacuum your cellulite, and whiten your teeth…just to name a few of the options available to help us attain “perfection.” The American Society of Plastic Surgeons reported that there were over 12 million cosmetic procedures done in the United States during 2008. This represented a 63% increase from the number of procedures done in 2000.
In your search for perfection, you are constantly challenged to buy the right automobile, be endowed with the most gorgeous figure, reside in the most suitable neighborhood, wear stylish clothes, attend the popular clubs, send your children to the best schools, travel to the most popular destinations, decorate your home in this year’s most glamorous colors and serve the most gourmet of meals on tastefully decorated tablescapesmade from the most gorgeous of serving pieces. How can you possibly live up to that much perfection? Even the ads created to promote these things are subject to special effects and airbrushing. You can’t even believe the photographs or your own eyes anymore.
You are constantly bombarded with the message that “perfectionism” should be your ultimate goal. It is no wonder that you transfer this need for perfection into all aspects of your daily lives. You view yourself in the same high-standard, “need-to-be-perfect” way. Unless you are perfect you find it difficult to believe that you are of value. To satisfy your need to be loved (in spite of our insecurities) you often strive to do whatever you can, at almost any cost, to provide for the needs of those in your life. If you could just attain perfection, then others would have to love you. Right? Well…maybe not…
Are you being genuine?
By giving more and doing more for others you long to secure their love. But, you can never guarantee that someone will value you more if you give all of yourself to them or if you perfect yourself for them. In your attempts to be loved, you may find yourself attempting to manipulate those around you to love you more because of what you are doing for them, rather than because of who you are as a person. You want to become indispensable, vital, and important to the objects of your affection. You think that if you please them, you feel certain that they will return the positive affection you so hungrily desire and crave. You want to be everything to everyone…then everyone will love you. If it were only this easy! If you only had that kind of power and control over the love in your life.
It just doesn’t work that way. You don’t have power or control over other people and their attitudes, behaviors or feelings. The best you can hope for is to live honestly and true to yourself. By doing so, you can then be more content and comfortable in your own skin…you will love yourself more…allowing love to come to your genuine self rather than to some “perfectly” manufactured shell of a person. The more you love yourself, the more genuine love you will be able to give…unconditionally. Then in turn, the more genuine will be the love that is returned in your direction. You will begin to appreciate the fact that you have done the best that you could at any particular point in time…just as everyone else is doing and being the best they can be.
Living True to How God Has Defined You – Love
It sounds rather easy, doesn’t it? What would it be like if you were to live true to how God has created you and defined you…being comfortable with doing the best you can do today, and accepting that as enough for now? What a wonderful idea! But how do you get there?
One of the most important steps in accepting yourself as less than perfect and embracing where you are today is to practice living a life full of love – with compassion and grace. Since early in your childhood, you have been taught the importance of loving others. It is well accepted and known that you are to “love our neighbors as yourself.” Although that part isn’t always easy, our culture has attempted to incorporate this value and concept into our lives as a truth (even if we don’t always live it). God tells you to live this way – and you know that you need to strive to that end. You know and accept that love and compassion for others are what you should strive for…a concept you can easily embrace. The part that is oftentimes much more challenging is exercising a loving and compassionate heart toward yourself.
Jesus taught us to love our neighbors as ourselves. Not, love your neighbor more than you love yourself, nor to love your neighbor at all costs to yourself or your self-worth. You were taught that you should treat all people with patience, kindness, selflessness, respect, consideration, compassion and love…including yourself. All of God’s creatures are to be embraced for being wonderful, just the way they are right now. God’s unconditional love defines you and His grace, through the death and resurrection of Jesus, allows your repentant heart to be “good enough” in spite of your brokenness.
You Were Made In God’s Image
If you remember that you were made in God’s image and He knew your name before you were born, you may then begin to appreciate how His grace extends compassion to you. You see, God made you special. So special in fact, that He sent His son, Jesus to free you from your sins. You are God’s love and you are here on earth to honor and love Him. If you fail to honor the “temple” with which he has gifted you, aren’t you failing to honor Him? He has given you all you have and are. That includes your big nose, flat (or big) chest, wrinkles, sags, bags, and scars…emotional and physical. Those things don’t make you less than perfect…that makes you perfect in His image…just as you are. You see God doesn’t make mistakes – you are not a mistake.
To be perfect means you are just right…today, and that if you are good enough for God to treat with love and compassion – then who are you to not extend a similar grace unto yourself? To be perfect is really just allowing the human condition to exist, even in yourself, yet still loving yourself in an unconditional way…generously and compassionately with a humble and repentant heart. To love yourself as you love your neighbors…to strive to love all, including yourself, as God loves you…now, that’s perfection!!!!!
Know Who You Are
To help you develop a loving and compassionate pose when thinking of your self-identity, it is a good idea to be familiar with who you are and why you respond in the ways you do. (Become familiar with your ‘buttons.’) This knowledge helps with self-understanding. Self-understanding then can empower you to know when it is safe to open your heart to self-compassion. Knowing yourself means to know where you’ve been, accepting those parts of your life journey, and moving forward knowing that you are better off today than you were before – because of the lessons learned and God’s grace.
Most importantly, your quest for perfection should be a never ending journey of getting to know your creator. Spend time alone with God and His word. Hear what He has to say about His character and what He has to say about you. The Bible is an incredible love letter from God to you. When you learn about God’s love you cannot help but have your hurts and pains released and your heart filled with His love. Then, without even realizing it, your heart will overflow with love and it will bubble up and out into the world around you. Your life journey is a process of learning and growing. When you open the door to the knowledge of God’s love - joy beyond your wildest dreams will be experienced. Now, that is perfection!