giving up perfect


What would you give Jesus if he were actually coming in a week?

When Jesus comes, what he wants from you is probably not frankincense, gold or myrrh (he has some already) or the safe, Sunday-School sanctioned gift, “your heart.” Nor does he come angry, demanding you make something of your miserable, wasted life.

You probably know what he wants. It is something small, but precious to you, something that you know is not in your best interest to hang on to.

Maybe it is an excuse you’ve been making. Or maybe it is a self-destructive behavior, like taking drugs or – equally harmful – forgetting to let your soul go run and play sometimes. Maybe you are holding on to fear or expectations or blame or maybe it has to do with your perfectionism.

Actually, it is probably your perfectionism. I know very few people who don’t have a little bit of that to give up and it is the one thing we can’t afford to keep if we are going to taste any bit of joy in this life.

Here is the big secret, the one I always forget: you don’t have to have it all figured out. None of the rest of us do. If we say otherwise, we are just lying or temporarily misinformed.

So what do we do? We show up together, like we’re at one big Perfectionists Anonymous meeting. We admit we have a problem with needing to get it all right all of the time and that we ask too much of ourselves, and of the people around us, and of this broken world we live in.

We hand over the job of having it all together, having it all figured out RightNowToday. We look around and decide that it’s OK for us to be human and for everyone else to be human too, even though humanness is a huge inconvenience sometimes.

If you give Jesus your perfectionism, he gives you his Perfect, a transaction that theologians call Grace. It is sort of the only thing we’ve got going for us.

(The toothpaste pictured has been sitting on our counter like that for the past week because we are, apparently, magazine-quality messy people. At least we are good at something.)


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