Breaking Up with Perfection

2018_04_26.jpg
 

You're sitting in the coffee shop waiting for him to arrive. You've planned out your speech and decided that you will remain strong. After all, it's been a long time coming. 

He's rude, arrogant and never sees the best in you. He picks at your flaws without ever seeing a flaw in himself. He sets standards that are impossible to meet but leave you feeling like somehow you were supposed to measure up. He promises happiness while leaving you feeling empty, tired and condemned. His name is "Perfection" and it's time you break up with him. 

Most of us wouldn't say that we struggle with this concept of "perfection." We wear messy buns, take no-make-up selfies and champion the "this is me" raw and real posts on instagram. But are we truly free from perfection's clutching grip or is this just another fad that we hope will give us a sense of identity and belonging? 

For years I struggled with this overbearing weight not because I thought that I could ever achieve perfection myself, but because I sensed that there was this standard that everyone else was somehow meeting that I wasn't. I believed I was living below where I was supposed to and that God expected better of me. It's hard to have a loving and free relationship with someone you believe is constantly disappointed in you. 

But what if I told you that is wasn't God who held you to this impossibly high standard? What if I told you that "perfection" wasn't a badge that was ever meant for you to wear? What if you were given permission to not only be free from the choking grip of perfection, but also empowered to live a larger life than you ever could on your own? 

Jesus didn't come to give us a higher hurdle to jump over than the people of the old testament. He came to set our hearts free, hearts that have become buried and burdened by the lies of the enemy. He came to strip away the barrier that "perfection" had created separating us from Him, so that we could have a loving, intimate and care-free relationship with our Father. 

Eternal lie means to know and experience you as the only true God, and to know and experience Jesus Christ, as the Son whom you have sent.
— John 17:3 TPT

The enemy wants you looking at yourself, your works, your mistakes and your less-than-perfect moments. Because left alone, we will always fall short. But we were never meant to walk alone. Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening. They were guided by Him, upheld by Him and established by Him. He was completely their's and they were completely His. They weren't condemned because their gaze was fixed on the One who had breathed His very own life into their lungs. 

Their eyes weren't on themselves... until they fell. 

Have you ever noticed when Adam and Eve started feeling ashamed and condemned? 

But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.
— Genesis 3:9-10 ESV

Notice Adam doesn't say he was afraid because he had sinned. I'm not even sure he truly knew what that meant. But he was afraid because he was naked. How can you tell if you're naked? You look at yourself. 

Wait.. weren't Adam Eve technically naked this whole time? Yes, yes they were. But they were too busy looking up to their Maker to look down on themselves. 

I'm sure you've heard the saying "your life will follow your focus." But if this is true, then why aren't we shifting our focus onto the One who will bring freedom and peace to our hearts? If the answer is staring us in the face, why aren't we being transformed? If the enemy can't hide the truth, then he'll mask it as "too good to be true." 

The word "Gospel" actually means the nearly-too-good-to-be-true news. It's a story so brilliant, so loving, so captivating and so inviting that it can't possibly be true - or at least it wouldn't be possible for me. But notice the word "nearly" above. What the enemy would have you pass off as impossible, God would use to break off all shame and condemnation from your life. The only question that remains is will you embrace His truth over your life? 

For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.
— Luke 19:10 NKJV

Notice this verse says Jesus came to save that which was lost. He didn't just come to bring you up to Heaven with Him one day. He came to restore ALL that was lost. Remember how Adam and Eve walked with God in the cool of the evening, free from guilt, shame and condemnation? This is what He came to restore. And this is the life that is waiting for you to live right now, not just someday in eternity. 

If you take anything away from this then take this. You are deeply loved, unwaveringly accepted and securely held in the arms of the One who made you, and loves every detail. 

There was nothing you could have done to earn His love and that is why there is absolutely nothing you could ever do to un-earn it. It says in Hebrews 11:6 that faith pleases God and our Father is thrilled when His children don't look to themselves and the glaring imperfections we face, but rather to Him and His goodness by faith. 

Just take a look at Jesus. Did he go around condemning people for not measuring up to His standard? Did he put down the hurting, condemn the broken and lecture the weak? The only people he came out against was the religious crowd and it was because they were the ones attacking his people with rules and shame, the very same people he came to save. 

Jesus is the exact representation of our Father's heart (Hebrews 1:3) and is therefore our roadmap to Him. Just like the woman caught in the act of adultery, He intentionally dismisses her accusers, wipes away all condemnation from her life, and then empowers her to live a life above the sin that had once ensnared her heart (John 8:1-11). And He came to do the same thing for you. 

If you'll let him, he will wipe away all your fear, insecurity and shame, letting them fall away through the piercings in his hands. And once again, like it was always meant to be from the beginning, you can walk together hand in hand in the cool of the evening. 

Don't allow fear, guilt or condemnation to keep you from your Father. He's already put these enemies under your feet. Like old gum stuck on your shoe, don't pick it up and allow it's ugliness back into your life. 

So here it goes. He's walking in the door. He takes a seat and stares blankly into your eyes. What will you say? 

"Listen, it's not you, it's me. I've found someone new. He loves me and we're going to spend the rest of our lives together." 

You must catch the troubling foxes, those sly little foxes that hinder our relationship. For they raid our budding vineyard of love to ruin what I’ve planted within you. Will you catch them and remove them for me? We will do it together.
— Song of Solomon 2:15 TPT

Dealing with Self-Doubt

There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy (God). He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

The battle against self-doubt is something that every human comes up against at some point in our lives. We all deal with negative thoughts and emotions about ourselves and if most of us were honest, we're much harder on ourselves than anyone else would dare to be. But the reality of living outside of this dismal cycle seems a luxury that others may seem to have but never us. Why is it so hard to just give ourselves a break? 

I believe one reason is that the battle is in your mind. I know this concept sounds simple and unhelpful, but if we truly understood this, we wouldn't so easily succumb to every thought, emotion and lie that tried to weasel it's way into our minds. 

I've heard the saying before, "You can't stop a bird from flying over your head, but you can stop it from building a nest in your hair." Negative thoughts and emotions will come, but it's what we do with those thoughts that matters. Will we think about it, and think about it some more? Maybe it's true? It certainly makes sense looking at my track record.. Maybe I'm thinking it for a reason? 

OF COURSE YOU ARE! The enemy of your soul has no power over you except for what you give over to him in your mind. And he would love nothing more than for you to meditate on those thoughts and emotions for just a little bit longer. The longer you linger there, the harder it seems to shake it off. 

For the word of God is living and active and full of power [making it operative, energizing, and effective]. It is sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating as far as the division of the soul and spirit [the completeness of a person], and of both joints and marrow [the deepest parts of our nature], exposing and judging the very thoughts and intentions of the heart.
— Hebrews 4:12 (AMP)

What we have to do is to learn to separate those negative thoughts and emotions from who we truly are, from our identity. The Word of God is what tells us who we are at our core. When we spend time in the Word, it cuts off anything that we're believing that isn't truth. It "trims the fat" and separates the lies. When you can start recognizing the thought or emotion as a lie, you can now choose to let it go and replace it with truth. Your not owning it anymore; it doesn't belong to you. 

In one of C. S. Lewis' greatest works The Screwtape Letters, a collection of letters are written to a young demon named Wormwood, all signed the same, "Love your affectionate Uncle, Screwtape."  In it, Lewis brilliantly depicts the perspective of evil, and exposes the tactics of the enemy. 

It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.
— C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

The attacks on your life and in your mind come from the one who sees everything that you could become, and fears you. He will do whatever it takes to keep your mind from realizing what lies within you. When we understand this, negative thoughts and emotions become such trivial things compared to the greater story. After all, you don't attack something that doesn't threaten you. We can truly look at ourselves and say, "Wow, someone must be scared of what I will become."