Perfection

I have long been a fan of the People of the Second Chance movement, especially of their encouraging blog posts and thought-provoking instagram photos. I found that when I was struggling with the realization of my shame, there were people who knew what that felt like. I know now that there are people who also know shame, and there are people who also know grace. They may not have it entirely figured out, but they know how to pick themselves up and keep trying. This is very encouraging to me. Inspired by POTSC, I began writing posts on second chances.

POTSC Grace

I still follow POTSC and read some of their material, and I was pleasantly surprised to see another encouraging photo from them today. It says, “I will hold myself to a standard of grace. Not perfection.”

Apparently this is not a new saying, either. I Googled the sentence and multiple sites showed up, mostly blog posts from women who had been impacted by the quote. For example, Emily Ley writes about balancing family and work and a lady named Natalie discusses perfectionism, but I especially enjoyed Bailey Jean’s post on her blog Anchored in Love.

Bailey quotes Philip Yancey as saying:

[Grace] contains the essence of the gospel as a drop of water can contain the image of the sun. The world thirsts for grace in ways it does not even recognize… Trace the roots of grace, or charis in Greek, and you will find a verb that means ‘I rejoice, I am glad.’

Sidenote: I just might have to read Yancey’s book.

But back to the post, Bailey presents the idea that much of our stress and anxiety comes from the unneeded expectations of perfection that we place on ourselves.

We are not called to perfection, because that’s not what Matthew 5:48 means. We are called to maturity and wholeness. We are called to grace. Just as we have received grace, we ought to treat those around us with grace. In my initial post for my OneWord365 project on intentional grace, I wrote:

I believe this is the time for me to move. To be adventurous. To act on what he’s shown me. And what has he shown me? That He is good. All the time. That He is just and merciful. That He is forgiving.
That He is full of grace.
And if God Himself is not angry with me, who do I have to fear? If God Himself is not upset with me, what can anyone or anything else do to me? If I know that God is forgiving and accepting and gracious towards me, how will I then treat others?
With intentional grace.

That is all well and good, but it means that it is currently the middle of August and I am literally back where I started, back to the very first page. Like, the third-of-January page.

The difference this time around is that I now have a better sense of what grace could look like in the real world. For example, grace means not holding myself to impossible standards. It means giving myself freedom to mess up, back up, and try again. It means paying what my grandma calls “the stupid tax” when I may overspend financially or theoretically. It means not getting upset with myself over my performance or my outfit or my lack of planning ahead or my forgetfulness. It means that even though my new purse has quickly begun to resemble Mary Poppins’ bag, I will not speak negatively towards or about myself if and when I forget something I need.

I will be patient with myself. And I will be patient with others. I will be kind. I will realize that I have been set free from the requirement to be “perfect enough,” and I will seek out ways to show others that they don’t have to be perfect, that I will accept them for who they are and for who God says they are and for who they will become in His timing. And in His grace.

Because it all goes back to that, doesn’t it? I cannot live in grace or show grace unless I have been saturated with the grace of my Father God.

So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

– Romans 5:21, NLT