I regularly feel like I’m pretending to be an adult. I managed pretty well through college, enjoying independence while still coming home some weekends or letting my Dad buy groceries for me every couple of months. But after graduation, I crashed whirlwind into Grown Up Land; I got engaged, got a real job, got married, and rented my first apartment, all in the space of about 18 months. Even now, as I prepare for my first out-of-state move away from my parents and siblings, it still kind of feels like I’m faking it.
Thankfully, I’m getting the sense that everybody else around me might be kind of faking it too.
“It constantly surprises me how grown up I don’t feel,” admits Lisa-Jo Baker in her blog post She’s Got Her Life More Together than You Do. Really? In it, she explains how easy it can be for us to look at our own messy lives and play the comparison game. She doesn’t worry about job security like I do. He has such a great relationship with his son, unlike me. They always have the perfect tidy house, not like mine. Baker writes,
We are so quick to despair over our own dirty laundry – especially the grown up kind – and then assume so easily and quickly that those other moms at the playground has her life and her laundry together.
We believe somewhere deep down in our sleep-deprived minds that there are perfect moms out there. With perfect homes and minivans and meal planning systems.
Perfect moms with perfect kids who do all the things we can’t seem to manage without breaking a sweat.
We judge ourselves by the perfect standards we think that everyone except ourselves manages to live up to.
We have to stop, she insists.
There is no such thing as perfect.
There is especially no such thing as perfect parents, waistlines, homes, or kids.
Perfect doesn’t exist.
Perfect is not an attainable goal.
Much like we strive to be “perfect” parents (whatever that means) many of us also struggle trying to become the “perfect” Christian. Cortni Marrazzo weighs the biblical call for holiness against the reality of our sin nature.
Yes, Jesus was perfect, and yes we are expected to emulate him, but we are humans and we will never be perfect like Jesus. God knows this very well and he doesn’t expect us to attain the unattainable. That’s why he gives us this wonderful thing called grace.
…We are made in God’s likeness and image, but we are also human and we have a sin nature. That means we will never be perfect while we are still on this earth in our human bodies. One of the best things we can do while on this earth is actually to embrace our imperfections and our weaknesses and allow God to shine through them and help us grow. Paul learned this lesson when he desperately asked God to take away something that was holding him back and keeping him weak, and God denied his request.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
So how can we find encouragement in this mud-splattered, imperfect walk of life? Sarah Coleman, drawing from illustrations in the popular kids’ tv show Peppa Pig, dares us to
- jump in those mud puddles
- recognize that there’s a season for everything
- turn off the TV and do life next to your kids, and
- understand that adventure sometimes requires us to have patience through a time of waiting
In Baker’s opinion, the joy of relationship trumps the illusion of perfection every time.
I’ve learned that if we created the chaos together it’s good for us to clean it up together. And that it may not be perfect if a nine, seven and four-year-old are my cleaning companions – but that the company’s willingness is worth more than a perfect end result.
Sometimes I still miss it – at least the illusion of perfect. And then a boy blows me bedtime kisses from his bed stuffed full of a random collection of transformers that should have been in the play room, toys that should have been on his shelf, and snail shells that should have been outside, and my heart relaxes and I remember what I traded perfect for – a house full of real.
And perfect is rarely as interesting as real.
Debbie Holloway is the Family Life Editor at Crosswalk.com.
Publication date: April 27, 2015