Monday, April 7, 2014

the case against perfection

"But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy."
-1 Peter 2:9-10

Yesterday, in a moment of spontaneous over-sharing, our whole family sat at the dining room table and hashed out our weaknesses. One by one, all of my children told on themselves, then Mr. Fantastic went, then it was my turn.

We each spoke about some area of our character that is less than stellar. Then we laughed at how imperfect we all are. The mood at that table was light, funny, and cathartic in every possible way.

I adore my family. And I know three things for sure about relationships:

1. Shame can't grow in the light.  
2. You can't change what you keep trying to hide.  
3. Once the worst of you has been acknowledged and the important people love you anyways, you get to the good stuff in life.

Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 12 that we should boast in our weaknesses, but even still, we prefer others think we are better than we actually are. (Enter Photoshop, cosmetic surgery, and all modern advertising.)

Jesus said she who is forgiven much, loves much. Yet we strive for perfection and berate ourselves for falling short. We don't want forgiveness as much as we want to live beyond all need for forgiveness.

What's so amazing about grace if we wish we didn't have to rely on it so desperately?

Does trying to be a "perfect" parent and a "perfect" spouse mean we end up less loving? Does grace become less incredible in our lives if we grudgingly accept our need of it? Maybe. Yes, maybe indeed.

I suppose we need to face our weaknesses occasionally so we can remember that we don't really deserve God's favor much at all.

I don't know where you sit right now. I don't know what trait you wish you could change about yourself. I don't know what error you long to erase from your past. I don't know who you have offended, what scares you most about yourself, or how close you are to rock-bottom.

But I know you were made to live in the light. I know that the choice to be transparent with safe people is the key to ending the cycle of shame in life. I know that a moment at a table, comparing notes with humble souls will prove that you aren't the only messed up person in the world.

And I know that you will never be the same again.

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