The building nature of perfection

 

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From the title this may sound like a positive description of perfection.

It’s not.

This thought hit me last night while reading a book on leadership. I was finally able to put words on the feelings I had developed towards perfection over the years. My problem with perfection: it builds.

Now when I say perfection in reference to myself I know very clearly that I am not perfect (and thank God I am not). But what I am referring to is perfection motivating my actions as well as the face of perfection that I strove to put on for many years of my life. This is definitely a problem I am still working through.

But back to the problem itself: the building nature of perfection. 

When one commits to this idea of perfection it seems like a noble idea. I mean Jesus was perfect according to the stories, right? It starts off making one good decision that looks good to any observers. Great. Then another good decision. You start to build a reputation as someone who has their life together. With each “good” decision it slowly begins to grow.

Not perfection.

Pressure.

Pressure builds as you come to realize the standard you have held yourself to (perfection) has now become the standard others hold you to because you have worked so hard to only put forth that “perfect” face.

The pressure only builds as you continue to act only in such as a way that furthers this misconception of your perfection.

The problem is you know how imperfect you really are but the pressure doesn’t allow you to show it. Hiding it becomes a habit, an addiction. And the pressure builds.

Slowly, you start to distance yourself from others for fear they will see through the sham. You begin to increase the breadth of your relationships in an effort to purposely avoid the depth that threatens to undermine all of the work you have put into being observed as perfect. A certain kind of loneliness ensues but must also be pushed to the side and hidden.

The pressure of perfection builds.

I can remember times in high school and even college where everything in me wanted to just mess up. To finally, publicly, shatter this thin veil of perfection I continuously hid behind. But my addiction to perfection would not allow it.

Perfection isolates. Perfection fears. Perfection lies because it knows the dishonesty of it’s own claims.

I believe this is one reason we hold so strongly to the theology of the perfection of Jesus. It allows us to put the pressure of perfection onto something outside of ourselves. It allows us to be okay with the imperfection of humanity. Ideally, it opens us up to a community of people who we can show our imperfections to and still be accepted and loved. When lived out, this is one of the most beautiful aspects of Christianity.

Yet, I do not believe that Jesus intended to show us how perfect he was and how imperfect we are, even if that belief is conducive to building community. Rather, I believe Jesus came to show us the perfection of imperfection.

The beauty of a mistake.

The glory of sorrow.

The divinity in humanity.

The life found in death.

Yes, perfection builds when we choose to see perfection as that which has no blemish. But that is not perfection, that is hell.

Perfection is found in the vulnerability of relationship, the wisdom of failure, and the joy of embracing that which is perfect in it’s imperfection.

This perfection also builds.

But instead of pressure, it builds love.

 

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