How many times have you made a B and thought, “That is just not good enough,” or, “I should have done better than this. I am better than this. What is wrong with me?” Or, maybe you say the wrong answer aloud in class because you got dates or names mixed up, and instead of cutting yourself some slack, you think “Seriously? Why are you being so stupid?”
When did we become so obsessed with perfection? Why do we no longer allow ourselves to mess up or to learn from our mistakes? At some point, life became a quest to get every little thing right. I see it in my life. I find notes I’ve written to myself in my notebooks that say things like, “What were you thinking? Don’t be stupid!” What kind of self-talk is that? The lessons I’m instilling in myself with that kind of language and mentality are lessons of inferiority. If I am not doing everything completely right, then I’m less than those that do get the answers right.
I see this thought process carry over to all aspects of life, and not just in my life. There is a struggle: if I cannot be everything for everybody, how could anyone like me? There is the problem of having to say no to someone, the idea that your worth is caught up in the things that you do for people and the grades that you make. But, there is some comfort in knowing that other people struggle with this too.
I am lucky. I was able to attend a conference themed Perfectly Imperfect the summer after I graduated from high school. One of the major ideas that the keynoters, Revs. Shelli Latham and Casey Thompson, spoke on was the idea that we were created as imperfect people by a perfect God.
You were not created to be perfect. I was not created to be perfect. Even the person you admire more than anything was not created to be perfect. We are imperfect people, and that is okay. We were created as people who will make mistakes, and mistakes are not the end of the world. Mistakes are something to learn from; they are how you grow.
Imagine a life in which, instead of beating yourself up about your mistakes, you step back and realize that the world did not end because of it. You realize that what makes you the person that you are is not that you are all things to all people. What makes you the unique, imperfect child of God that you are is the fact that you’re going to mess up, and you’re going to mess up big. But it is through those mess ups that you figure out what you want, or what you do not want, out of life.
You are perfectly imperfect. You were created in the image of a God who adores you not because you are perfect and do everything right all the time. God does not love you because of your GPA, or the number of clubs you are in or the number of friends in the favorite list on your phone. God loves you because God made you. God loves you despite your imperfections, and God uses those imperfections to shape you.
You will never be perfect, and that is a beautiful gift. You should never hold yourself to the standard of perfection. It is not healthy, and it is not attainable. Instead of holding yourself to this impossible standard, take a minute and remind yourself that you were created by a God that does not make mistakes. You are perfectly imperfect just as you are, and that is good.