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.
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?
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?
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."