Writer: Jadwong Innocent Oketcho
“… all have sinned and continually fall short of the glory of God,” Romans 3:23 AMP
I have for a long time believed in a lie. I believed that I had to be and needed to be perfect or have perfect performance, in all that I do; to be recognised, validated and loved. This lie was supported by the words of Apostle Paul in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6, with the emphasis being on the “blameless” part (talk about taking the Bible out of context and using it to serve me), which I have struggled with as a leader, let alone a young one in a Christian and Church setting. I believed that I needed to check all my boxes and have it all figured out if I was going to be used by God. This is absurd seeing as Paul reminds us in Romans 5:8, that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” God never called any of us to be perfect. When He created us He said, “Very good” (Genesis 1:31) not perfect. Because that position was already filled.
In Matthew 5:8, Jesus in His arguably most known preaching hints at being perfect. I love the New King James version, “Therefore you shall be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” The operative phrase being “shall be” and not “perfect”. This encourages me and reminds me that I am not perfect, but Jesus is. Our “lamb without blemish or spot” (1 Peter 1:19) who “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:2), “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), was “tempted in all ways that I am, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
Our desire to aim for perfection, even though unattainable, is an attempt to be “like God” if not God. I like to believe that the Serpent had some “truth” to what it said. Before the Fall, Adam and Eve were without shame with each other and did not know about their “imperfections” and “flaws”. After the Fall, “their eyes were opened, …knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5). They stopped looking at God, who was the source of all they needed, and like us, started looking to themselves, others and material things to feel the void. And this brought awareness of just how flawed we are.
Perfection makes relationships and connections hard to have. God reminds Paul, “You are made perfect in your weakness”. Grace only sticks to our imperfections. Perfect people are hard to love. Love, after all, is expressed in the meeting of a need. It is hard to connect with anyone that seems to have it ” all figured out” and living in the neck of woods where it is always sunshine and rainbows. Our imperfections are what make us relatable and what brings God near to us. So why do we believe in “faking it until we make it?” Why hide our flaws and scars if they make us who we uniquely are and give us a better chance at relationships through being vulnerable and having real intimacy.
We are all works in progress, “made perfect forever” by the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and “released from the law so that we serve in a new way of the Spirit.” Instead of thinking “I will not be enough until I am complete” or attain a set goal, we should be thinking, “I am more than enough and I can be even better than I am.” (Don’t be the next “insert name*, but be the first You), Striving to become more like Jesus should be the gold standard. Rather than project an imagined version of ourselves that is cropped and edited, why not embrace and share our perfectly imperfect selves with flaws curated with a purpose. Share your RAW self. There are no perfect people, so don’t be one. Imagine what our lives could be like if we got in touch with the parts of ourselves that we have come to resent and make room for in the basement.
Share your experiences with perfectionism? Let’s learn and grow together.