Last night I was helping my 8 year-old daughter do her homework. One of her assignments was to log-on to an educational website and take a “practice” spelling quiz. About two-thirds of the way through the quiz things got a bit out of control.
“Daddy, how do you spell the word peculiar?”
To which I responded, “I can’t tell you because that would be cheating.”
“Daddy, I didn’t get a chance to go over that word and I’m going to get it wrong!”
I replied, “Just sound it out and do the best you can; after all, it’s just a practice quiz.”
It was at that point that she began to melt down. She was extremely distressed over the fact that she might miss one of the words on her quiz. I tried calming her down and reminding her that it was “just a practice quiz”, but that only served to make matters worse. To my little girl, anything less than a perfect score was both unacceptable and devastating.
My daughter is a bit of a perfectionist. I have to admit, she gets it honest; I struggle with the same thing. That’s one of the reasons I started writing this new blog. When I was writing my other blog, www.momentsandmusic.com, I would spend hours trying to make every single word perfect, and I made sure it communicated precisely what I was trying to say. I would get several different people to proof-read each entry before I posted it; quite frankly, I think I drove them a bit nuts. No matter how hard I tried, no matter how many times I read my work, I would still find things I wanted to “tweak”. It got out of control, and because I didn’t’ have the time to make it perfect, I stopped writing for a while.
It finally hit me last week that the point is not perfection; it is merely to write what God puts on my heart and make it as excellent as I can, within the time constraints I am under. So, as you’re reading each entry in The Salt Lamp, you may find grammatical errors; I am well aware of that fact. Please know that it gets under my skin like an itchy rash that won’t go away! But right now, I’m trying to let God teach me a lesson about my obsessive need for perfection. Therefore, some flaws will remain.
There is a difference between perfection and excellence. Perfection is something we can never attain because of our humanity. Excellence is operating at our very best and maximizing the resources we have at our disposal. There’s nothing wrong with striving for excellence. I believe that we should give God our best; it’s a motto I live by as well as one I instill in my children. However, it’s so easy go get hung up on “perfection” that we miss the main point of it all, and so often, our need for perfection paralyzes us.
We know from Scripture that God is perfect and He sets a standard of perfection for us. But the problem is, we’re not perfect in our own strength and humanity; it’s a standard that is unattainable. And because He knew that very fact, He sent His son, Jesus, as a sacrifice to satisfy the standard of perfection He put in place for us. For that I am extremely grateful; it allows me to get through each and every day without going insane.
You may not struggle with these things I’ve written about, but the truth is, you have other struggles. So don’t throw stones! But, if you do spend a lot of time beating yourself up for not being perfect and if you allow your need for perfection to paralyze you, it’s time to free yourself and accept the grace God has extended to us through His PERFECT Son, Jesus.