Written by Michelle Teo, Singapore
Perfection. It’s in a frozen smile and windswept hair. It’s in soft, brown hair or slim, toned legs. It’s when someone has everything together. We see perfection—but only when we are not looking closely enough.
I used to envy other girls for their beauty and popularity. I used to be jealous about how “perfect” they were, because I was sure they had no worries. Surely, I thought, their lives were just as perfect. Even if there was anything wrong in their lives, I believed it had to be something really small. Perhaps she had a bad hair day. Maybe she scored 98 instead of 100 in a test. Maybe the most charming boy in school didn’t fall for her, and she would now have to settle for one of the other 99 mediocre guys vying for her attention. Whatever it was, it was definitely nothing as big and bad as the rest of us had to go through.
Sometimes, this desire for “perfection” affects the way we view our own lives. Before we realize it, we want others to view us in the same light. We want others to think our lives are “perfect”. So we pull you into our arms and tell you little stories of our lives, whispering as though they were the truth. We brush the hair away from our faces and smile as we assure you that nothing is wrong.
We create the illusion of perfection when we see judging expressions for our mess, our chaos, and our bleeding hearts. We create it when we keep on talking about how holy we should be, how a sinner can never glorify Christ. We create it when we expect believers and non-believers alike to be holy—because God is—without thinking twice about their hurt and shame. We create it because we want to believe we are worthy and accepted and loved. We create it, build it, refine it, and solidify it, when that becomes all that’s expected of us.
But three years in university made me finally realize that the perfection I’m so obsessed about simply doesn’t exist. For the most part, it’s merely a front that no one can hold up forever. I saw “perfect” people fall; I saw them embarrass themselves in front of crowds. I saw them getting drunk and crying when morning came. I saw “perfect” students find no meaning in life, and the “perfect” couple fighting and looking to break up.
It can be the same even for believers. Sometimes, the crosses we wear on our necks fail to hold us back from making a snide remark, and we do something wrong before we can stop ourselves.
There is imperfection everywhere. We don’t have to demand perfection from others, neither do we have to demand it of ourselves. It is tiring, agonizing, and ultimately, disappointing. When we accept that we make mistakes, that no one is perfect in this huge world, that’s when we start living in reality. But if we’re always striving for “perfection”, we never will experience life the way it deserves to be experienced. There is no perfection, save for God.
Sure, we were meant to be perfect; this entire world was. When God created humans with free choice, He knew there was a chance we might stray from His perfection. Eve made a choice, and she ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Adam made a choice, and jumped right into sin with Eve. The moment Adam and Eve chose to live their own way, we walked away from perfection.
And this perfection can never be restored without Christ—so let’s stop making our own version of it.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Read “Bidding Farewell to Little Miss Perfect”