When Perfection Fails

Have you ever scratched at a scar that you presumed was healed only to have it bleeding again? It reminds me of just the other night when I was walking along minding my business. I saw a few people that I use to know but because our acquaintanceship has been raft with ups and downs, make-ups to break-ups if you will, I decided not to intrude where I was not invited. To be honest, I was a little afraid. The rejection that once wounded me should have been healed by now but would wisdom really have me put myself in the line of fire in a moment when I was feeling so vulnerable (alone in an unfamiliar place)?

“I am not saying ____ to them”

The crass thought floated across my mind before I could sensor it. My flesh was on high alert. My natural mind and high voltage emotions remembered what it felt like to be rejected and branded and rejected again. My emotions bucked against any attempts to remember the healing and grace that God has poured out since then or the restoration, if not of relationships, then at least of wholeness. In that moment, perfection failed.

Where was the woman who has been made whole by the redeeming power of God? Where was the on who was bent on being long suffering because her Savior’s love has suffered long for her own case?

She was hiding in the back drop. Weighed down and wearied from the past six hours of caring for demanding, little hands and hearts. It was a busy day. My energy was low and my children were operating on all cylinders. Couple that with the ongoing inability to steal away even just for a few minutes to refresh – and I had the recipe for a perfect storm.

When perfection fails, grace shows up. The fear that gave way to the fleshly response was dissolved by an extended hand of fellowship. After a short moment of polite conversation, we went our separate ways. I wish I had been the bigger person in that moment but I was not. What I could not do, grace did on my behalf through another person.

Perfection fails me regularly.

“Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect. ”

(Jesus  as recorded in Matthew 5:48)

The question that drives my life is this. What would it look like if God decided to demonstrate His love to the world by sending a thirty-something year old wife and mother who looks like me to impact her family, her corner of the world and her circle for the sake of the Gospel?

Or to phrase it another way, what would it look like to have the life of Christ lived fully in and through me in my same marriage, with my same children, with my same friends and in my same church?

Because, for too long I had lived with the notion that I could live a more Christ-focused life if I had a different kind of marriage or if my kids were better behaved or if my community was more supportive or if I had different traits, characteristics or personality than the one God has given me.

And it is not true.

I am not required to become a different person in my own life in order to meet God’s standards. By and through the Holy Spirit, little old me can do much to proclaim the glory of God even if my circumstances never change. I do not need God to deal me a different set of cards – I need Him to perfect His work in me so that I can reflect Heaven to those I meet on this earth.

I have not mastered it. But  when perfection fails me, grace steps in.

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