Written By Crystal Tang, Singapore
I sat at the piano, wondering where all my years of musical training had disappeared to. I knew that I was capable of doing better than this. What had happened to me? Then again, why was I so affected by a couple of mistakes? Why was I bothered by the fact that I had failed to play perfectly? Tears had welled up in my eyes as I struggled through the rehearsal under the swinging baton of the church choral director, feeling every comment (even those not directed my way) hit me with the force of a sledgehammer. Disappointed with myself, I murmured, “Lord, why?”
I left the rehearsal with a heavy heart, resisting the urge to burrow into the ground and hide from the world, wanting to just scream in frustration at my shortcomings. The compulsion to be Little Miss Perfect has shaped much of my life. It makes, yet breaks me. It brings me superficial success, but leaves me feeling empty inside. Little Miss Perfect, in marriage to a Mr Atelophobia (the fear of imperfections), form an unwelcome couple residing in my heart.
Do you face similar struggles? Has your life been dictated by the constant need to maintain appearances? Have you ever thought that Christians are required to be perfect because we would be offending our Creator if we ever fell short of perfection?
I have come to the realization that there is a difference between perfection in God and perfection by our own strength. Human attempts toward perfection are tainted by our physical, mental, and moral limitations, by our selfish desires, and by our desperate need for the acceptance and approval of others. What results is empty, superficial and inadequate, like the practices of the Pharisees in Jesus’ time. Try as we might, we can never find perfection on our own, only weariness, disappointment, and unhappiness.
On the other hand, perfection in God comes from accepting His freely offered grace. Jesus led a sinless life, died on the cross at Calvary, and rose victorious from the dead so that we are no longer held up to the standard of perfection. The perfect God accepts imperfect human beings like us not based on our achievements, but on the finished work of Christ. Now, as beloved children of God, we strive to be like Him. Just as He is perfect, we are to be perfect (Matthew 5:48). We are called to become more and more like Christ, depending on God who “works in [us] to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). We keep our eyes on Jesus more than on ourselves.
If like me, you are burdened by your imperfections and guilt from not being able to be “perfect”, know that rest can only be found in Jesus. Jesus calls each and every one of us to go to Him, we who are weary and burdened (Matthew 11:28–29).
Now will you let go of Little Miss Perfect too?