"Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal,
be of one mind, live in peace.
And the God of love and peace
will be with you"
2 Corinthians 13:11
We often hear the words, 'Hey, that's great; perfect; right on the money' Or maybe we get a grade on a test where we feel we aced it and got a perfect score. But what is perfect?
My dad was an extremely talented person. He created wonderful artwork. He wrote interesting stories. In many things he was way ahead of his time. But he always bemoaned, maybe even emphasizing, his failures over the years. Instead of rejoicing in his creativity he tended to emphasize how much of an ego trip he was on and that his ego was his worst enemy. So if you were ever to have asked him about perfection in his life he would have said, 'Not me, far from it.'
My uncle Ralph was another one. In many ways a practical joker, he was a very quiet person who hid his talent under a bushel basket. He collected jokes and humorous thoughts and kept wishing he could collect them together to produce an anthology of humor. He never got around to doing it and he would admit his shortcomings. But he was talented in photography, was skilled at his work in color management in producing decals, and was skillful in financial matters. Were you to ask him about perfection he would look you straight in the eye and ask, 'Who, me? Never happen!'.
And there's those who have a talent for writing but never finish even a letter because they have to keep going back to edit what they wrote. Their writing never measures up to what they want and so they strive to make a perfect writing effort out of what they perceive as substandard and quit when it never measures up.
I love to write but I never seem to fall in the trap of perfection. I sit down, start writing and what comes out comes out. I look for obvious mistakes, I use my computer spellcheck mode and let it go. What happens happens - it's just an expression of how I felt about the subject and that's the way it is. I just like to express feelings - I know it's not perfect - but it is just fun to do.
Years ago we attended a church where membership, to some degree, depended on profession of perfection. However, if one looked around at others in the church we would see ordinary people like ourselves who had moments when they missed the mark. Moments of frustration - perhaps anger - doubt - ordinary every day frailties we all share. I would never have made the grade in that church because I have not achieved perfection.
But in the ordination ceremony for being a pastor in my denomination, there is a question we must answer as honestly as possible. It is not "Have you achieved perfection?" Instead, the question I have had to answer was, "Are you striving for perfection?" I was, without hesitation able to say, "I've got a long way to go - and I will probably never achieve it in my lifetime - But I'm trying to live a Christlike life the best I can. The scripture passage above is a really great guide and summation of life as Christ would have it. And I have peace in my soul.
Remind me each day that I have a long way
to go and to recognize that
perfection is extremely elusive.
Fill me with joy when I try.