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Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Grace Is The Antidote for Perfectionism


Happy New Year!

In my last post, I began talking about perfectionism because at this New Year, we tend to want to make resolutions and think we can make the next year perfect. So if you haven't read the previous post, do so and and then check this out. 


Fireworks Stock PhotoAt that time, I had been attending a Christian woman’s group and the chairperson called me asking, “Kathy, we’d like you to consider joining our committee. We have a need for a nursery chairman. Would you pray about it?”

I agreed that I would. I turned back to the dishes I was washing and suddenly the irony of her request hit me. They wanted to invite me—someone who became so angry at Darcy—to be involved in the nursery! Of all the positions that she could have asked me about, God had guided her to inquire about the nursery. I was amazed. I didn’t deserve to serve in that role. Suddenly God whispered, “And you don’t deserve to be My daughter, either, but you are because Jesus’ robe of righteousness is wrapped around you. I already see you perfect because of Him.”

Perfect? Lord, I’m perfect? I don’t have to become good enough for you to love me completely?” Tears of gratitude and joy ran down my cheeks and plopped into the sudsy water. In that moment I realized that Matthew 5:48 was intended to make me see my need of Jesus and not perform perfectly. “Lord, thank you for showing me your grace.”

Years later, that message was confirmed to me as I visited our local regional park. I brought the six quarters needed to deposit into the machine that controlled the mechanical arm blocking the way to the entrance of the park. I deposited the six quarters and anticipated that the mechanical arm would rise—only to realize the arm was no longer there. It had been removed! Nothing had prevented me from entering the park.

"I just wasted my six quarters," I exclaimed. "I could have gone in free!"

We perfectionists do the same thing, don’t we? We deposit our quarters of good works in an effort to earn God's love. It’s as if we say:

"God, here is my ‘quarter’ of loving that person I hate. Do you love me now?"

"Here, God, is my ‘quarter’ of having my devotional time today. Do you love me now?"

We perform, hoping to gain God’s approval. Yet nothing stands in the way of God’s love and us. Jesus died on the cross in our place and has shattered the only obstacle—sin. The price has been paid. Instead of feeling pressured to put in the quarters of perfectionism, we can move forward into God's love because of His grace. Yes, we’ll want to love others and have our devotional time with our loving Heavenly Father—but because we want to obey Him, not earn His love. 

(photo courtesy of satit srihin at www.freedigitalphotos.net)

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