When I was little, I remember my mom always telling me, “All I ask is that you do your best. And that you actually do your best.” Those words could be both a comfort and a motivation. The thing that I knew was that, sure, maybe I could fool the people around me into thinking that I was doing my best, but I knew whether it was or not. As a result, if I knew that it wasn’t my best, I really wouldn’t be happy with it.
Fast forward to now, when I’m an almost 20-year-old. I was home this past weekend visiting with my family, and my was telling my mom a story about something I was doing and trying to get just right, and her response was that I was a perfectionist. Was she wrong? No. I am. I will do things over and over and over again until they are just right. I think this is why some homework assignments take longer for me than for others, and my personal writing projects are read by very few. I need things to be the best that they can be in order for me to be truly proud of them.
I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing. My desire for things to be done well has provided me with a good work ethic and a desire to be proud of things that have my name on them. I have been rewarded with good grades and great work opportunities. However, it’s impossible to be perfect.
That is where I start to struggle. This is the point in which I get frustrated. These are the nights that I lose sleep. I can’t be perfect – none of us can. That’s the downfall of being human. And that’s why we can’t do it all on our own.
Yes, I struggle with admitting that I can’t be this superhero who does everything really well and on-time and without flaws. I cannot claim to never sleeping through an alarm or forgetting to turn in a homework assignment. And I definitely can’t claim to having everything organized and having my life together all the time. To the perfectionist in me, this is really hard, because I want people to know that I can do it all. I want to be able to do it all.
But I can’t. I can’t do it all. The problem is that perfection is not achievable because we’re human. And all that pressure that I put on myself, and that many put on themselves, is unrealistic.
Thankfully, I am surrounded by forgiving and understanding people who know that perfection is unobtainable. And most importantly, we serve a God who has never once expected us to be perfect.
Isaiah 40:28-31 says, “Have you not known? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young man shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
I think we need to be careful. We need to be cautious of whose strength we are relying on. I can be a perfectionist forever, and try endlessly to make everything come together perfectly, but it will not happen in my strength alone. And in the end, we cannot control the day anyway! God is the one who makes every decision, directs every step, and holds the entire universe in his hands. Who am I to try and mold my life on my own?
I am learning to rest in the truth that my power is very, very small compared to the incredible power of my Lord. I am learning to let this information comfort me, and not make me feel weak. Because the truth is, we are weak, and we are imperfect, and we will fail. But we rest in the hands of a God who is not weak, and not imperfect, and will never fail.