I don’t know how to change a tire. Football doesn’t make sense to me. And much to the chagrin of my husband and son, my idea of camping is a key-card at the Marriott.
As an only child, raised by a single mom, my skill set is easily quite “girly.” Pointed toward proper behavior, I grew up quickly under an umbrella of great responsibility and high expectation. That didn’t mean I never had fun, it just meant my fun was tidy, organized, and scheduled.
I was a good girl. I never realized how bad that could be.
Neatly tucked behind chore lists and principal’s honor roll, leadership skills and graduate school, was something much more than simple follow-the-rules, do-right goodness. It was fear. And fear fed a much larger beast: perfection.
Failure wasn’t an option, and the fear of disappointing those I held in high regard kept me on a perpetual people-pleasing, approval-seeking race. There were no wings to spread. I didn’t make many mistakes to learn from. Who needs to compete with others, when you can compete with yourself?
Along the can’t-fail-won’t-fail path, I met Jesus. In my mind, we were the perfect match. Good girl meets great God and lives happily ever after. Simple. Logical. Neat. Jesus and I just made sense.
But Jesus didn’t want my mind. He wanted my heart. And He wanted all of it.
I loaded on Christianity and propelled myself toward a higher goal: godliness. That drive for approval, that desire to please—it came in quite handy. Pair it with a few spiritual gifts and you have the perfect recipe for a faithful servant.
And I served well. God planted, I sowed, and together we reaped a great harvest. It was good and profitable, for a season. And then as seasons often do, it changed.
And everything changed with it.
For so long, I’d convinced myself that the narrow path of perfection was the only way. Suddenly I found myself at a crossroads. Good felt hollow and perfect was no longer appealing. Unsatisfied with a pre-packaged version of proper faith, I was craving purpose and truth, spirit and life.
I stood before God wrung dry. It was exactly how He wanted me.
Disheartened, I could allow bitterness to take root. Its thick branches reached to weave their way into pride and stubbornness, strangling out the fragile chords of my faith. Instead, with my fading strength, I gathered up my weakness as a humble offering.
God wanted my heart. Even if I brought it to Him broken.
Turning goodness on its head, God introduced me to grace. Not the heady complicated version that I’d studied in scripture, but an intimate variety that met my weary and anxious heart. With grace upon grace, God breathed life into my perfection parched soul. My eyes were opened to a new found freedom and chains were broken.
I had allowed status-quo to rule, and the approval of man to reign, while my rightful King simply wanted me to be real.
I have seen a limit to all perfection, but your commandment is exceedingly broad. Psalm 119:96 ESV
Our God is a God of absolute truth and unwavering promise, but His path of life is broad in grace and bold with forgiveness. His generous nature is permission to approach Him honest, open, and bare.
And while it’s a vital pill to swallow, it isn’t easy. I know. Standing vulnerable before a right God when we believe anything less than perfect is wrong, can cause us to shrug off grace. We set authenticity aside as perceived weakness. The pressure to conform to righteous opinions kicks the perfection cycle back into high gear.
God longs to exchange our perfection for purpose.
He turns good girls into champions of a faith that will gather the weary, welcome the broken, and invite the failure fearing in. We who have been rescued, are purposed to rescue others. To give them the freedom to lay down empty goodness and pick up the fullness of grace.
It’s the cry of my heart: I have been set free. Come and be free with me.
Tiffany Parry is exceedingly grateful to be loved by a God who knows her flaws and yet prizes her as precious and chosen. She is a wife and mom of one, who daily leans into grace in order to be unleashed from her perfectionist chains. A lover of words, Tiffany purposes to use hers to speak truth with grace and authenticity. Follow her word-by-word journey through the mountains and valleys of faith at her blog, Simply for One. You can also join in the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.
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