When we’re tempted to withdraw with imperfection, God’s perfect love brings us back.
When I was younger, I considered myself to be a flexible, happy-go-lucky type of spirit. If there was a group outing at night to grab bite to eat, I’d always be the one with the “whatever’s good” vote. I’d often find myself waiting around while the others debated where we’d end up.
I discovered, however, because of a landscaping incident, that I may be a perfectionist. I think the perfectionist streak might have been latent or hidden, but age seems to have brought it to the surface.
My landscaper suggested that we create a “natural” border for the lawn we were putting in our backyard. I had wanted a very straight, clean line between the grass and the flagstone that would line the perimeter of the yard.
My experienced landscaper advised otherwise. “We can certainly do that, but I think it would look a lot more attractive with natural line. It would look too fake if it was perfectly straight.”
I didn’t want it to look fake, so I went with natural.
Boy, I regretted it. I was so upset after the work was done, I ripped the flagstone off to reallign the border. I was caught off guard at how much it bothered me. The yard as a whole was beautiful. But every time I’d look outside, my eyes would immediately zero in on that crooked edge!
Natural Isn’t Perfect
Natural sounded good. Who doesn’t want “natural”? But, it’s not perfect!
This small and insignificant landscape incident caused me to do a reality check.
How much do I trust in God’s love to come to him in my “natural” state?
Do I begin my prayers with my thoughts As-I-Am, or do I preamble with As-I’d-Like-To-Be?
Do I really believe Jesus is comfortable hanging out with me when I’m frail and needy? Or do I withdraw, holding myself together, with some home-made earthly glue?
God’s Love Perfects Natural
God’s words tells me otherwise. Jesus is very familiar with every part of me, especially the bits I want to hide. Why? Because He’s been there Himself:
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” Hebrews 4:15
It encourages me to know that Jesus knows how unnatural it is for me to come to him as I am. I know that the Holy Spirit prays for me during these moments because out of nowhere, I’ll be struck with how much God loves me, and how much I need Him.
And I go to Him. Not because I’m so great in any sense. But because God is great in His love for me.
God won’t leave us alone without love in our imperfections.
Thank God Jesus loves us that much.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us...There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear..” 1 John 4:16-18
I’m learning to fight my natural tendency to withdraw when I bump into my imperfections. I’m not perfect, but God’s love is.
How do you feel about your “natural” imperfections?
What do you think God feels about you, in your natural state, as you are?
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us…” Falling into Love Himself without fear that He will demand straight lines or clean clothes, knowing He will catch us and bear us up… This is faith indeed.
Great post Bonnie . . . Naturally!
My wife likes to remind me that for humans, the pursuit of perfect is the enemy of good.
We cannot let our imperfect nature become an excuse for poor behavior, but we can carry it to the cross. Our Father’s perfect love, expressed in the life of His Son is all we have.
Thank you for your thoughts…
I’ll admit I’m a perfectionist in a lot of ways. That landscaping? Argh, that would have driven me insane!
I still battle with the notion that I have to be a certain way, feel a certain way, and think a certain way before I can go to God with anything. I know that’s not true, but I often don’t FEEL it. And sometimes feelings just trump knowledge…
Great post, Bonnie!
I have way too many imperfections and I run away from all of them.
Some days I get paralyzed because it seems that every way I turn, I come across another imperfection to run from and I end up just having to stay in one spot because there’s no direction to go in.
I’m messed up.
out of nowhere, I’ll be struck with how much God loves me, and how much I need Him.
Isn’t that the truth? When I’m feeling the worst about my naturally imperfect self, God is there to lift me up.
This post reminds of the quote: God loves us just the way we are but He also loves us so much that He is not content to leave us there!
I am daily reminded of my imperfections and I have to be daily reminded of God’s love for me.
I am a perfectionist, but am painfully aware that I am anything but perfect. Peter, I get paralyzed, too. For me, it revolves around the fear that others will see that I don’t measure up. I don’t fear God rejecting me. I have seen His compassion and experienced His tender Mercy over and over. I do want to please Him and when I live to do just that I find freedom from the fear. Letting Him permeate my heart and mind with His word makes all the difference.
“do I trust in God’s love to come to him in my “natural” state?…do I withdraw, holding myself together, with some home-made earthly glue?”
My brother in law recently passed away. One of our favorite quotes from him is… “People have a tendency to be human.” He was trying to express philosophical wisdom when he said it. I cracked up, “man you are really deep.” We naturally tend to be human. God likes it that way I think. To have crooked lines, but not be crooked is beautiful to Him.
Like nature, unsymmetrical yet perfect.
Like seeing my wife sleepily find her way to the coffee pot in early morning light, half awake, messed hair, wrinkled pjs, no make-up, natural… not perfect, beautiful.
Thanks Bonnie – perfectly beautiful post.
Natural is totally not me. Due to my perfectionism I’m neurotic?!
Great shot of caffine!
The OCD Perfectionist
@Kelly: Falling into God without fear is a wonderful picture for “relying” on God. Kelly, loved that depiction. Beautiful.
@Russell: Thank you for the apt clarification – God wants us content with where we are, but desiring to improve for His pleasure. Thanks, Russell.
@Billy: Oh, good. I’m not the only one, huh? And yes, feelings do trump knowledge in that moment. That’s why loving and encouraging each other as friends, is SUCH a comfort. Thanks, Billy.
@Peter: Oh, yeah. Analysis is paralysis when it comes to our imperfections. Been there, done that… still doing that. Thank God for grace. Thanks for sharing, Peter. Hugs.
@Bridget: God shows up right when we need Him. I’m praying for your family, Bridget!
@Kevin: I like the DAILY part of your encouragement. Thanks, Kevin!
@Mari: Thanks for all your insights, Mari. Wonderful!
@Doug: Doug, I am so sorry your brother-in-law passed away. I hope your sister is doing okay. I love his quote. Sounds like you two are cut from the same philosophical cloth. So much wisdom. 😉
@Bianca: Girlfriend, I’m right there with ya’! ooxx.
I have never been a perfectionist – always one to dive in, get the job done, and hire someone else to make it perfect if necessary. But when it comes to my inner self, I am like everyone else in the world – very aware of my shortcomings, comparing myself to others, and usually wondering all the things I should/could be improving on. For me, the best solution is to just STOP from time to time, turn down the internal chatter, and soak in the truth of God’s love.
@Bradley: “the best solution is to just STOP from time to time, turn down the internal chatter, and soak in the truth of God’s love.” So true. Whether listening to a worship song or reading the Bible, it always feels good to have release.
[…] into this place of love this week, in the palm of my Master’s hands — when I was frail bumping into my imperfections and melancholy, reminiscing earlier […]
This is awesome, Bonnie. I’m a perfectionist, too. I understand why the landscaper would have wanted ‘natural.’ But, like you, I would only see the imperfections. (It does look beautiful, though!)
I’m so glad God isn’t that way. I have many myself. God is good 🙂
Interestingly, when I see others though, I see the beauty. While for me, it’s easy to zone into the imperfections. But, I’m learning to laugh at myself more than take myself too seriously.
“It encourages me to know that Jesus knows how unnatural it is for me to come to him as I am.”
But only until I take on the heart of a little child. Children have no cognizance of their dirty hands, runny nose, or sticky face when they come to give you a big hug and a kiss. And a child might squirm some to have a face wiped or hair washed, but they do tolerate it because they trust the one cleaning them up.
Have I told you lately you’re wonderful, Bonnie? 😀
Aw. Thank you. I think that was a hug!
What’s funny is God made you the way you are . . . with crooked or straight lines! Beauty can’t be argued when the beholder happens to be God. Wonderful example!!
Oh, Jake. I wanted to take your entire comment and just quote it! Great way with words, that are true.
We’re what God has to work with, and He works on us a long time — knowing that we will never be finished but loving us anyway. Great post, Bonnie.
“He works on us a long time.. loving us anyway.” That is beautiful. He is so patient.
This speaks volumes to me, having moved from a Type A+ perfectionist to just a Type A. Baby steps are good, right? These words are so comforting. I just may skip the make up today (or not)!
Baby steps, baby steps. Yes. I am a believer in this! 😉
Oh, do I know that feeling…everything must be “just so,” whether it’s the ornaments on the tree, the flowers in the flowerbed, the cookies on the sheet…or my state of mind. Being all natural, but not perfect? Impossible! I find myself frustrated every time I turn around, mainly because of my own imperfections. Maybe this cuppa joe will remind me that perfection isn’t the goal. Thanks, Bonnie!
The new touchstone word is “natural”… under God’s care. Great to “see” you, Rebecca!
interesting thoughts about God’s love and remembering that God can see exactly what i am…no hiding anything from God.
And what He does see, I smiles, cares, with love *draws near*. I hope to grow in this confidence in this year, more and more!
This is a wonderful post but than again I expected nothing less. One of the things that I enjoy so much about your writing is your transparency. It’s ironic how we sometimes find it easier to be transparent with others, who can’t possibly know all there is to know about us, yet difficult with God–the One Who knows all.
Anyway, I am working to overcome the traits of perfectionism. Just about the time I think I’ve arrived I fall and see how much work is yet to be done in my life. (my post for this parade failed to say how often I fall & have to be picked back up)
A friend recently told me that I am harder on myself than God is. I’m not sure if that is true or not but I do find myself retreating from Him at the times I need Him most. Ugh! I know better and counsel pthers on this all the time. I obviously need to “practice what I preach.”
I loved what you said here…”I’m learning to fight my natural tendency to withdraw when I bump into my imperfections. I’m not perfect, but God’s love is.”
Sounds like I am not alone in the “school of life.” His love is perfect—I will never be perfect. You are so right!
Blessings to you, my friend!
I so treasure your heart and transparency. I feel we withdraw because we think God looks at us the way we do in our private moments — We think He zeroes in on our shortcomings, rather than our beauty and strength. I’m learning that God does the opposite. He sees us first and foremost for who we will be in eternity – perfect in beauty, reflecting our Father’s personality uniquely.
His love is perfect — you and I will always have this safety to return to.. and rediscover new love each time we do. Thank you again for sharing, as it strengthens the journey, with no need to hide. We are simply loved!”
Thank you for sharing. I think I may have a post to write, prompted by your comment. 🙂
Thank you for the wonderful comment regarding my comment. You’ve said so many things that I need to have reinforced in my life. Your wisdom is welcomed and needed.
Funny how God uses object lessons to bring home a point. I bought a DSLR camera recently. It is far past my understanding but I am willing to learn. One of the first things I have learned is that in order to get better shots I can’t always rely on “auto-focus.” It might catch what I see most but it will miss the best part of the picture.
And so it is with God as you so aptly shared. His focus is different than ours. Totally. Completely. For which I am thankful. We zero in on our shortcomings–yes. He sees the overall picture! Glory!
Let me know when the new post is up. I look forward to reading it.
[…] 1. God’s love is Perfected in De-Perfection […]
[…] don’t know about you, but anytime there’s some sort of home improvement project in progress, I start biting my nails. We just got a new fence put up in our backyard this week, […]