The Things We Love: Perfection vs. Peace

Who doesn’t love perfection? I think we all dream of having the perfect job, the perfect spouse, the perfect home, perfect children, or a perfect life. Our pursuit of perfection motivates us to better ourselves. Which sounds like a good thing, but perfection has a dark side. As a recovering perfectionist, it’s not all it is cracked up to be.

The problem with constantly striving for perfection is that you never feel satisfied. Nothing is ever good enough, including yourself. Desiring to be perfect, when you are by nature imperfect, leads to a life of self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. This is aggravated by the perception that those around you actually have a perfect life. It’s an easy conclusion to draw when we only see the surface of most people we meet, especially if social media is involved. So you try harder, work longer, and try to improve yourself. But the harder I tried, the more I felt like a failure. In fact it only drives you to do more to suppress those feelings of inadequacy.

Perfection is the most unattainable goal of all. No matter how good you are, there is always someone better. No matter how much you have, someone else will have more. No matter how attractive you are, there is someone more beautiful. Focusing on others’ perceived strengths only distorts your own self-perception until all you can see are your inadequacies. Perfection is ever-changing and unknowable. Would we even know perfection if we achieved it? Would we ever feel satisfied? The truth is we could reach perfection and have all the world has to offer but still not be satisfied. Satisfaction is a gift from God.

I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

Ecclesiastes 3:12-13

God alone is perfect. In human beings, perfection leads to pride, and pride leads to arrogance, and arrogance leads to enmity toward God. Our imperfections are what unites us with God. Acknowledging our imperfection leads to humility, humility leads to submission, and submission leads us to peace. So Paul reminds us that we should be rejoicing in our imperfections and weakness.

But [God] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

God is the potter and we are the clay. He is shaping us and we were not meant to fit the mold of the world. When we accept that we find peace within ourselves and with God. Although we are weak, fragile, and imperfect we are filled with a treasure beyond measure.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 

2 Corinthians 4:7-9

The Holy Spirit lives within us and our imperfect bodies are God’s temple. What that means is we are never alone. No matter what we face, Jesus lives within us so we are not overcome. He turns us into overcomers, and that brings me peace.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

John 14:27

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