“I don’t watch TV and don’t feel like I waste my time. So why don’t I always have time for God? What can I cut out of my day to spend more time with Him?”
I asked my husband this question last weekend during a heart to heart about putting God back at the center of our lives. Buc admitted he needed to cut down on media use, but I couldn’t put my finger on any “time-wasters” in my day; everything I did seemed useful, even needful.
“I know what your problem is.” Buc answered. “You’re a perfectionist. You might do all good things, but it takes you three times as long as most people. So you do everything well, but you don’t get much done.”
Ugh. He’s told me this before. And I guess I haven’t truly listened. But I’m finally starting to, because God has stepped in to send the message home. Over the last few weeks (during which I haven’t posted because I didn’t have time to write a “good enough” post) God has been teaching me that his idea of perfection is not the same as mine.
My idea of perfection looks something like this:
- I should have morning worship every day
- I should be a good and responsive mother to Sam (whatever that means while he is without language and can’t tell me what he wants/needs)
- I should exercise vigorously every day
- I should get to eat at least one meal with my husband (two would be better)
- Those meals should be mostly healthy
- I should get 8 hours of sleep every night
- I should be writing every day
- I should be blogging regularly
- I should be involved at church
- I should be preparing personalized Christmas gifts on Shutterfly (or similar sites) for my family
- I should keep in touch with all my friends on a regular basis
- I should keep my house clean–or, at the very least, should be able to get the dishes done at the end of every day
- I should have clean hair every day
My daily reality is far from my daily “wish list.” And understandably; it’s an impossible list. Over and over in the past weeks God has been talking to me about my impossible standards, trying to redirect them to his standard. He says his “yoke is easy” and his “burden is light” (Matt. 11:28-30). That sounds better than the crushing yoke I’ve created for myself.
So what is God’s definition of perfection? I’m working on piecing together an imperfect definition, based on some verses he has directed me to lately:
“It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (Ps. 18:32, NIV)
“…count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.” (James 1:2-4, NKJV)
“…from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the (wo)man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” (2 Tim. 3:15-17, KJV)
From these verses, I know there is nothing I can do to be “perfect”; it is only through God and his Word that I can aspire to “perfection.” And what is godly perfection? From James I am starting to understand that I can’t measure my “perfection” by my outward appearance; it has to do with my heart and my state of mind. Also, James tells me the road to becoming “perfect” is messy, paved with trials; and Timothy tells me that it may take some “reproof” and “correction” before I get there.
As I ponder and pray over these lessons from God and his Word, I am becoming more okay with days that don’t live up to my expectations. Good rest and good hygiene and healthy meals and quality time with my husband and robust writing production and everything else on my list would be really nice, but we live in an imperfect world–so these things won’t happen every day. So I have to become okay with that; I have to learn to embrace “imperfection” according to how I define imperfection (my shallow, outward definition), and embrace the “process of perfection” God has designed.
My house might be a mess, my hair might be a bit greasy, and it may be a month or more between blog posts…but that’s okay…as long as my connection with God is still intact.
In my imperfect world, maybe all I can do is a five-minute Bible study, or fifty distracted prayers throughout the day while chasing down a runway baby. Maybe I get blessed with an hour of “free” time in which to crack open my Bible commentaries. Maybe I only get to read a few scriptures on my index cards before motherhood calls.
The important thing is to not let the possibility of an “imperfect” Bible study or prayer session keep me from having that Bible study or prayer session. God has told me this recently. He told me, “Lindsey, ALL scripture is profitable for you…so even if you only get five minutes, take them.” And through a new favorite author, Lysa Terkeurst, he has also told me, “Your job is obedience; my job is results” (from Unglued: Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions).
Okay, God. I will embrace imperfection, as long as you keep helping me (and I know you will). As long you keep “perfecting” me according to your will, I will keep loosening my grip on my own imperfect ideas of perfection.
Messy house, greasy hair, and hasty blog post, here I come! This is my day, and that’s okay.