As women, we look for perfection. We work for perfection. We want perfect relationships, which need perfect spouses or partners. We spend tons of money working toward perfection in beauty and health through gym memberships, skin care products, figure flattering wardrobe and shoes, shoes, shoes. We lose sleep over trying to make our children’s lives perfect and we spend hours perfecting our very homes.
For many of us, the search for perfection doesn’t stop at those shallow or vain pursuits. It continues into our spiritual lives. As Christians, we want to be perfect... or at least appear that way. Our attempts toward perfection in this area often are displayed in the way we dress, the way we spend our time, the way we talk, and the way we act. We know that the Lord calls us to be holy, sanctified... perfect, but very often our attention on perfection is spent too much on those external indicators. In some way, it’s easier to work on the areas in our lives that people can see. There is great motivation because we want to be respected and regarded as holy. No rock music, No smoking, No drinking, No, No, No.
But in truth, real sanctity, purity and holiness is found internally. Perfection should be sought in those dark shadowy parts of the heart that we neglect, that we bury.
That’s where purity is going to be found. That’s where perfection is going to be found. Those areas that no one can see, that we disguise with spiritual ornamentation, are the areas where the real work needs to be done. But how do we work on those areas that are not easily seen?
Sometimes by failing at the external things, it brings about a cleansing of those hidden areas in our heart. It is in those hidden areas where we conceal pride, hatred, self loathing, lust, and dishonesty. These nasty qualities of our personality are way more destructive than the clothes we wear or the music in which we listen. Those nasty little traits need eradicated from our hearts, and failure has a beautiful, yet painful, way of doing that.
Failure, especially public failure, penetrates to the core of our being and leaves a mark there. Often, that painful mark sheds light into that darkened corner and allows us to truly see how messy we are. Also, failure usually brings humility, and humility is a necessary attribute in our journey towards perfection. I have failed so horribly as a parent that it made it on to the evening news (that’s another story for another time). My darkened corner that contained a good amount of pride was swept clean that day. When we can no longer pretend that we have it all together, we can finally get real with ourselves and face the deep issues that are keeping us back from holiness.
Maybe it’s our child’s mistakes that reveals our short comings as parents. Maybe it’s an outburst of anger that reveals the hatred rooted deep inside. Or maybe it’s the realization that the gossip is really just deep seeded envy. Failure is the gift of light that shows us our internal struggles.
For certain, we must strive to be well presented on the outside; however, the focus should be on the internal perfection, weeding out those things in our heart that are dark and ugly. When those internal imperfections are changed, the external imperfections change with them.
So, let us not focus too much on what we THINK is perfection on the outside, the way we dress, the things we do, how our children behave, because those things will eventually be transformed. We must allow our failures to do the work they are intended to do. Those failures should be allowed to deal with the pride, hatred, lust, and envy. Those are the things that are deep inside our hearts and those are the things that will REALLY cause our spiritual death.
The next time you feel like a failure, embrace that humility, search your heart, and allow the healing to begin. Your perfection will happen from the inside out, not the other way around.