Waking up, my mind begins to recall every detail from the day before. The off-hand comment made, the story I wish I hadn’t told, the glass of wine I shouldn’t have had. Just before I careen out of reach somewhere between the darkness of disappointment and the pride of perfection, I remember I’m merely human. Flawed, imperfect and still deeply loved. Forgiven. This side of eternity we’re bound to make mistakes and, if you’re like me, perhaps a whole lot of them.
Everybody’s got something. Something that binds. Something that no matter how much you try to stay away from, you keep finding yourself back in the same place. A broken place. A place filled with remorse, regret, anger or disappointment.
Believe me, I have my something too and I’m prone to falling into it. At different times in life my something has been very different things. Maybe that’s the case for you, too. Things like relationships, shopping, gossip, talking too much or overindulging in any number of things. And it seems the more I try to control it, the less control I have over it.
When an inevitable stumble comes I fall hard into it because perfectionism lives in me. As much as I am aware of it and try to fight it, it’s grip remains firm. Grace for others is easy. Grace for myself, not very much. But the simple truth is that sometimes we make mistakes. Sometimes we say things we wish we wouldn’t have, or we do something we wish we hadn’t. And as hard as it is to embrace our imperfections, it’s part of life. Learning, growing and, yes, making mistakes.
In the words of a wise friend: Our setbacks don’t define us. They’re just the dark spots that make the light shine brighter.
Perhaps it’s our failures that actually make us better. We can aim for perfection and in theory it might work. But reality paints a picture marred by arrogance, pride and judgment. Perfection is merely a deception. A mask. One night Beth Moore told me and an entire arena if you call yourself a perfectionist, you may as well just introduce yourself as a deceiver.
Perhaps more than any other something, the one thing that keeps trapping me is perfectionism itself. Could it be that the root of every other something is actually just one thing? You were not made to be perfect. Christ came and died because He knew you would never be – so He came to set you free. In advance. In spite of. Because of.
It is for freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, therefore, and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery. -Galations 5:1
You are not your mistake. You are not your failure, your disappointment, or your wish-I-would’ve-done-that better or different or not at all. Perhaps the fact that you stumble shouldn’t be so shocking as it is certain. Necessary. Formative for becoming the best version of yourself as you navigate experience, humanity, humility, pride, and your very small place in the world. Paying attention is vital to becoming, and it’s hard and messy and painful and beautiful all at the same time.
You are not your past, your addiction, your fear or your mistake. He came to set you free. Maybe it’s time you start living like you believed it.
We all fall short. We all stumble and, sometimes, we fall. Try to embrace your imperfection today. Try to look at your mistake for what it can teach you, instead of seeing how it defines you. It doesn’t. You are free. Choose it. Each day is an opportunity to start again; not controlling your something, but acknowledging, accepting, and surrendering it to Him.