Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Perfection in Progress

Perfect. Perfection. Perfectionist.

These are words that raise the stress level of most women I know.  They seem to be haunted (me included) by the expectation of perfection.  Keep the perfect house, raise the perfect children, say the perfect thing, etc.

Many have seen the fatal flaw in this way of thinking. They have taken it upon themselves to crusade for the right to be imperfect with sayings like:

"A beautiful thing is never perfect." 

"Strive for progress, not perfection."

And though this gives me some sense of relief- it creates a new problem of lowered expectations and complacency. A longing creeps up through the layers of thought- a longing that yes, I do want to be more, I do want to be perfect.

The I wonder where that comes from. Why do I feel this desire, this need to be perfect. 

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks the other day. I was teaching a Sunday School class about Heavenly Father. We were discussing His divine attributes, perfection being one of them. A question popped into my head and out my mouth:

Can a Perfect Being create something imperfect?

I've thought a lot about that in the past few days- even prayed about it. We are created in His image. He is perfect, yet we are not. And the world tells us we aren't supposed to be. And I long for it.

Then a light went on in my head, and in my heart.

God created us perfectly to be perfect. But- we are not finished being made. 

The reason we aren't perfect now, isn't because we are a flawed creation and ever will be. We aren't perfect now because he isn't finished creating us, molding us, teaching us, and raising us.

God isn't finished with me.  I am, in essence, perfection in progress

My perfection doesn't lie in my performance, but my potential. This explains my innate desire to strive, to improve, to grow, to be perfect.  This desire is in my heavenly DNA. It's as though my spirit knows something my mind has forgotten:  I was made to reach perfection.  I just haven't gotten there yet.

As I rejoiced in this new perspective, another thought came to my mind:

God's view of perfection has nothing to do with how well I take photographs, or cook, or clean, or exercise, or homeschool my kids (which I don't), scrapbook, blog, Pinterest,  write, dress, or whatever. The perfection God intends for me is perfection in my character and glory and joy.

No where in the scriptures does it say, "Be ye therefore perfect like the skinny, well-dressed  PTA president whose kids always look adorable. Yeah, be like her."

No, the Savior Himself says, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in Heaven is perfect."

This is what He wants for me...someday- to be perfect like Him, when He is finished with me.

I know I wont' be for a long time. My whole life and then some. That's the way He intended it.

He doesn't expect a finished product when I'm still going through the production line.  I still have missing pieces and experiences. I am still unfinished.

He doesn't suggest, nor expect, perfection now- He only asks that we look to Him for help to realize our perfect potential, and let Him help us get there.

Our struggles and imperfections are not a surprise nor a disappointment to God or the Savior. They knew we would have difficulties and doubts, sadness and frustration, weaknesses and shortcomings. They also  knew at times we would be weighed down by unhealthy expectations and guilt. These things just get in the way of our progression. They want us to turn to them- to hand our weaknesses and sorrows over to them.

In Matthew 11:28 the Savior says, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Then in John 14:1 he says, "Let your heart not be troubled, ye believe in God, believe also in me."

They want us to be happy now in the knowledge that we will be perfect later. They want to help us now, so we can reach our perfection later. 

That's the beauty of our progression: we don't - can't - do it alone. 

God will be there, if we let Him, to mold us, to guide us, to strengthen us and to cheer us on. He is our creator, and we are His creations in progress. He is actively working with us and through us to help us reach out greatest potential. He celebrates our steps- even the smallest of them - every day. 

He applauds the way we love, serve, repent and forgive. He has given us our innate longing to do better, to be better- not so we will feel sadness in our perfections, but so that we will seek Him out in them. And together, someday, we will be made perfect.

Until then, I know for me, I will find joy in each step I take, knowing that perfection isn't expected of me, but waiting for me someday. 

I'm perfection in progress, and proud of it.

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