We all know the scene: a bright sunny day, with foamy waves, golden sand, and perfect white shells. Colorful beach towels, kids building sand castles as teenagers tan.
Sunny perfection is what I think of when I picture a beach. Unfortunately for any resident of Washington State, the coast doesn’t quite match this description. Beaches are typically this scene: the sun behind clouds, the water white capped, the sand coarsely ground rocks and broken shells. The cry of gulls is obnoxious as the wind whips every trace of warmth from you. So much for bringing your swimsuit!
But let’s go back to that other beach for a moment. The perfect one. This is an accurate representation of how I wish I could be. That wind whipped beach? That’s an accurate representation of who I am. Why? Because I struggle with the lovely concept of perfectionism.
Perfectionism is defined as a “refusal to accept any standard short of perfection”. In other words I expect myself to be flawless at every moment of every day. At first glance this doesn’t seem to be a bad philosophy. We should all try our hardest right?
At second glance perfectionism sets the trap I often get caught in: a sand castle. We know the concept. Children build castles out of sand; some elaborate and others….not. But it doesn’t matter how beautifully they are made – they all come to the same fate eventually. The waves crash and the sun dries out the castle until it is nothing but a heap of sand.
I compare the perfectionist mindset to a sand castle. Heedless of the waves around us we focus on creating an elaborate structure around ourselves. We build with an easily destroyed material and expect it to last. Then the inevitable occurs.
Personally, because I expect myself to be perfect, when something falls through I blame myself. A landslide of destructive emotions can be triggered by the smallest inaccuracy. My “perfect” sand castle collapses and is washed away by the waves.
Perfectionism is not only an emotionally damaging mindset but it also separates us from God. By insisting to ourselves that we can be flawless all by ourselves we ignore the price Jesus paid for us. If we are “perfect” why do we need God?
“You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God. Luke 16:15b
This is why perfectionism is such a destructive lifestyle. We need to acknowledge that we are not perfect. True perfection is found in God. But that’s next week’s topic.
Yours in Christ,
The Wednesday Witness
Upcoming: True Perfection