Definition of Grace: The free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.
I have many roles in this season of life. Disciple, Wife, Mother, Worker. I strive for them to be prioritized in that order, but I often find the reverse to be true and work gets most of my attention and energy, followed next by my children, then Brian and then Jesus. Being a working mom comes with its share of challenges. I constantly oscillate between feeling like I’m failing my children, failing my work team, letting my husband down and being unworthy of the love and sacrifice of our Lord and Savior.
Recently I have been wrestling with my proclivity toward pursuing perfection. Trying to be the perfect everything… believer, mom, worker, wife, friend, volunteer, homemaker, etc. Why? When I push aside all the surface answers, I get to the core of this pursuit… wanting to be loved and hoping perfection will get me there. But it keeps letting me down. And every time it does, I am so hard on myself. I feel so much disappointment for the things I don’t do or don’t do well enough. Even though I rationally tell myself all the things I did accomplish or the things I did well, my emotional response is still so self-condemning. I bounce back and forth between trying to be perfect and failing at being perfect.
Here’s the catch… I’m trying to define my value in myself, in my accomplishments or lack thereof. It’s two sides of the same coin; what I did and what I didn’t do. Instead of rooting my identity in Jesus and what He has done for me and who I am in Him. Because I am not good enough. But He is. That’s the whole point of what we believe, and it is so freeing when you embrace that truth.
But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works; otherwise grace would no longer be grace.
The pursuit of perfection is not the road to redemption. We are redeemed by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ Jesus. This redemption is the greatest gift of all time and saves us from an eternal life of damnation. But it also saves us in the here and now. When our identity is fully rooted in who we are in Christ, we are free. Free from fear of failure, free from not being good enough, free from needing accomplishments or people or status to give us value.
We are loved and valued by God, through His grace alone. You cannot pursue perfection and truly understand grace.
For me, this looks like simple acts of trusting God in daily life. By God’s grace I am letting go of things I would have normally fought for – deep cleaning my house before community group, trying to look perfectly pulled together when going out with friends. Instead I now fight to focus on Jesus – it’s more important for people to sit on my couch and talk about Jesus than for my house to be spotless. It’s more important to show up to Pod in a hat and workout clothes than not go at all because I haven’t showered.
As disciples of Christ, we have the opportunity and calling to worship God, to love others, to serve others and to partake in Kingdom work. We are free from the pursuit of perfection in those callings because Jesus already lived the perfect life for us. Therefore, we don’t have to strive to be perfect – instead we get to relish and thrive in the love of Jesus that takes away all our faults and reconciles us to God.
Friends, I long for us to live lives transformed by Jesus. That we would break the mold of this world, that our hearts and minds and lives would be freed from the chains of chasing perfection and that we would live the lives we have been given through Jesus, as heirs of the Kingdom of God. That no lie or doubt or fear or failure would keep us from fervently pursuing Jesus and living lives wildly transformed by His love and grace.
"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."