October 25, 2010
The Real Meaning of Perfection
"So you are also complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every rule and authority." Colossians 2:10 (NLT)
I recently earned the unofficial title of mom-of-the-year. How? I made muffins. Not just plain ol' muffins, mind you. Chocolate chip and blueberry muffins in the cute, baby-muffin pan.
I had risen early, pre-heated the oven, and wiped the sweat from my brow, as I quietly set about my muffin-making task, just like a good Proverbs 31 woman would do. As the muffins began to appear plump and golden, the savory aroma permeated the house.
Then it happened.
My children came bolting down the stairs as if the house were on fire. One of them jumped up and down and screeched in delight, while the other one yelled, "Yeah, muffins!" They paced the kitchen until the coveted pastries were done; then gobbled them up. Everyone was happy. I was thanked, appreciated and hugged. Even though they acted as if I had never fed them breakfast before, it was still awesome. I coveted my new mom-of-the-year entitlement.
Shortly after, it was time to leave for school. I hurried everyone along, with instructions for teeth brushing, book bag gathering, and snack grabbing activities.
Then it happened.
My son exclaimed that his coat was missing, even though it had been in his hand ten minutes earlier. Apparently the coat fairy had snatched it and hid his coat in her invisible closet.
In the process of his frantic coat search, my son accidentally stepped on my daughter's toe. Not just any ol' toe, but the toe that had incurred a serious stumping injury the day before. Instant drama, tears, accusations of doing it on purpose, and flying Band-aids filled the air.
In the midst of the excitement, my other daughter discovered that the coat fairy had taken her coat too - and possibly her shoes. She was having trouble locating her things due to the onslaught of incoming text messages that kept distracting her search efforts. Thus, threats were made about losing phone privileges if it continued to interfere with life itself.
Now that my son was going to be tardy for school - again - because my daughters were not ready, again (primarily due to excessive hair-straightening obligations as opposed to muffin eating) - a heated discussion took place before we finally made it out the door.
My wonderful mom-of-the-year-Proverbs-31-woman award fell to the floor and shattered in a million tiny shreds of disappointment. Calmness, patience, mercy and joy flew out the window quicker than those Band-aids had flown around the kitchen.
Our happy, peaceful, muffin-eating, hug-giving, laugh-sharing moments seemed fuzzy memories. As we drove to school, the chaos slowly slipped away. Emotions calmed. Tears dried. Positive, loving discussions occurred and I gradually began to feel like maybe I wasn't that bad of a mother after all.
Driving home, I realized that I was holding myself up to unrealistic standards - my own standards for perfection and performance, not God's.
You see, my heart longed to be like that seemingly perfect Proverbs 31 mom. The kind of mom who is always patient, helpful, calm, understanding and reasonable in every circumstance. The kind of mom who never loses her temper. The kind of mom whose children arise every morning and call her blessed, with or without muffins.
It's easy to get hung up on the woman described in Proverbs 31. We begin to believe that God holds us to an unrealistic standard of goodness and perfection. But God sees perfection differently than we do.
Webster's defines the word ‘perfect' as "being complete; lacking in nothing." God knows we cannot be perfect physically, but He does desire that we become complete spiritually. Our spirit can be perfect through the blood of Christ, even when our flesh fails.
Our efforts to model the Proverbs 31 woman should be focused on the love that was behind her actions, not the actions themselves. This woman is simply one whose outward actions were a result of a heart being transformed into Christ-likeness. She was exemplary because God's intervention had influenced her life, not because her human efforts were perfect.
So I've decided that my love for my children, not what I cook them for breakfast, will be what determines my attitude and identity today. How about you?
Dear Lord, draw me close to You. Transform my heart, and motivate me to desire completion in You, as opposed to my own standards of perfection. In Jesus' Name, Amen.
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Consider who set the standards that you have been trying to live up to.
Does my inability to be perfect cause me to feel discouraged or hopeless?
Have I forgotten that my identity and value come only from Christ within me?
Psalm 18:32, "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." (NIV)
Psalm 119:96, "Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit." (NLT)
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