I am an addict.
I am addicted to something I’ve never even had. I know it’s something I need, though, and it would make my life so much better. In fact, I crave it every second of every day. Oh, my desire for it is sometimes disguised as other things, but it’s always lurking in the shadows, just beyond my reach. Sometimes, I want it so much I can taste it and I do whatever I can to have it, knowing deep down that I’ll never acquire it, but feeling somehow that I must. Other times, my desire for it drives me to despair. Still, other times, I’m sure you have it . . . and she has it . . . and he has it . . . and I.WANT.IT! And then there are those times that I think you should have it, and you should display it to me to fulfill my desire, but you don’t and you won’t.
What is this intoxicatingly powerful thing I so desperately need? Perfection . . . just perfection! If I could just have it, I know I would be fulfilled.
There are many character flaws (i.e., sins) I have struggled with in my life, but I have never been an addict . . . or so I thought. At times I have been proud, lazy, discontent, aimless, selfish, fearful, critical, impatient, harsh, and I’ve even been a “perfectionist” (which I used to see as a positive). I’ve also been depressed, short-tempered, a nagging wife, and an exasperating mother . . . but never an addict. Nope, I’m good on that one . . . except, I have been . . . and I am.
Recently, as I was spending some time in prayer and Bible-study, my addiction punched me in the face and then wrestled me to the ground. I actually read “Perfection is an illusion
(Terkeurst, 2014),” in my Bible study
book. The author proceeded to list some specifics: “There is no perfect job. There
is no perfect school. There is no perfect spouse. There is no perfect ministry.
There is no perfect way to raise kids. There is no perfect house. There is no
perfect route. There is no perfect decision. (Terkeurst, 2014)” What?!?! That is
nonsense! It must be! How can I want it so much and it not even exist?
Oh, I say that I know there is no such thing as a perfect decision, and I subscribe to the belief that God gives wisdom to those who ask (James 1:5) more often than giving specific signs. I believe that as long as we are seeking Him and walking in His precepts, He gives us liberty to do what we think is best. The problem is, perfection is best -- and I want it! How can we have liberty to make a choice, because SOMETHING has to be the right choice, right? One choice has to be better than the other, doesn’t it? And how will I know which one that is? I need to get it right! It needs to be perfect!
And by the way, you do, too! Or I’m not happy with you. You see, this need for perfection in everything is that addiction that lurks in the shadows, sometimes, disguising itself as other things; that thing that others sometimes seem to have when I’m so aware of my lack and need of it; that thing that I’m sure you should be able to provide for me, yet you refuse.
Here is where there is a head-on collision of what I think should be and what is reality. Recognizing my addiction has revealed to me that:
- When I’m proud, it’s because I think I’m pretty close to perfect . . . at least in some area where you lack.
- When I’m lazy, it’s because I can’t achieve what I think I ought to be able to achieve perfectly.
- When I’m discontent, it’s because life isn’t perfect.
- When I’m aimless, it’s because I haven’t figured out the perfect path for my life at a given moment.
- When I’m selfish, it’s because I want what I want, which would be perfect!
- When I’m fearful, it’s because something I do (or don’t have the courage to attempt) might not be perfect.
- When I’m critical of you, me, everyone, and everything, it’s because none of it perfectly pleases me.
- When I’m impatient, it’s because my needs or wants weren’t met in the perfect time and method.
- When I’m harsh, it’s because I’m trying to show you where you aren’t perfect . . . so you can be perfect next time.
- When I’m a perfectionist, it’s because well, I want it . . . all of it . . . to be perfect.
- When I’m depressed, it’s because I am, or life is, not perfect.
- When I’m short-tempered, it’s because you’re not perfect.
- When I’m a nagging wife, it’s because my husband is not perfect.
- When I’m an exasperating mother, it’s because my children are not perfect.
So, you see, all I need is perfection! Then, it would all be perfect!
Aaarrgghhh! So, this whole “Perfection is an illusion,” route is very unsatisfying. Why do I crave something so deeply and completely if it doesn’t exist?
I am thankful to say, that as quickly as the realization of my addiction knocked me out and wrestled me to the ground, the balm of healing revived my heart!
While perfection may be an illusion in this messed up world we live in, it DOES exist. Jesus IS the “Perfect.”
He is the perfect I long for, and that is why I know the craving, why I even know that lack that I have and that there is something more that I need. I have seen a glimpse of perfection, and I want it . . . so much that I ache for it continually. I am persuaded that He put that longing in my heart, not so that I can seek perfection in you or me or this world only to continually be disappointed (not to mention, steeped in sinful reactions because I’m not finding that perfection) but to see that things are NOT as they should be in this world, and nothing will fully satisfy that longing here.
There is only ONE Perfect. He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15-20), whose way is perfect (Psalm 18:30) the only One who can fulfill my need for perfection. And He did. He is the Perfect Sacrifice that took away my sin, that gave me hope, that gave me life, that will ultimately make me perfect (Hebrews 10:12-14).
My longing for perfection, now that I see it for what it is, should continually make me long for HIM, to know HIM more, to reflect HIM more, to see you and me and others with HIS eyes.
Lord, help me to continue to crave this perfection I’m addicted to, but help me to look for its satisfaction ONLY in You, The True Perfect.