Balancing Perfection

Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

I am a perfectionist, but not in the stereotypical sense that my crafts have to look flawless or else be trashed, I have to be early to be on time, or my shoes have to be lined up neatly in my closet. Rather, I focus on excellence in the bigger picture and making the best choice in each step of life. This means I have very high standards. I am always learning and striving to grow into a better me and to build a better world, but yes, I am also setting myself up for a lot of disappointment. There are simply a lot of things in life that are not black and white, that have no obvious “right” answer, that depend on the unique person and situation, and therefore cannot be done perfectly. Not to mention, I have a sinful nature and the frequent propensity to make less than optimal choices. Oh the frustration. 

Now, I realize not everyone, or even most of you, think like I do (probably a good thing!), but we all have ideals we are reaching for. It could be to be a better wife or mom, to eat healthier, to look better, to be more promotion-worthy at work. Alternately, it could be to stress less about your imperfections as a wife or mom, to stop focusing so much on food, not to let your looks be a distraction, or to be less of a workaholic. None of the above goals are inherently bad, yet each could be the opposite of another! One may want to put more effort in at work to get promoted and earn a raise-a potentially upright goal, while another wants to focus less on work and have more time to spend with family and in leisure-also a good endeavor. So what’s going on here? We need balance, right? Work hard, but not too hard. Try to be healthy, without hyper-focusing on it. Do your best, but don’t stress over it. 

But where exactly is that balance? How do I know when I’ve gone too far or not far enough? There is no yardstick to measure by! It’s so gray and will look different not only for every person, but also just for me from day to day! This is where my perfectionist brain goes haywire. I simply can’t live in constant contention for the fleeting mirage of “balance”. I need another standard to live by; a more solid, unchanging, universal standard. 

There is only one thing that fits that description and that is the word of the Lord that “remains forever” (I Peter 1:25, ESV). While the Bible may not always have all the clear cut and easy-to-follow answers I am hoping for (although it does have a lot!), it does provide me a foundational principle that supersedes the need for balance. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

Instead of searching for how much is too much or how little is too little and constantly missing the mark, we only need to ensure our actions are focused on two things: proclaiming Jesus’ name and living with gratitude. If being more selective in your food choices, spending more time cooking in the kitchen, and eliminating poor eating habits can be done with thankfulness while displaying the character of Jesus, then pursue it! It may not look like a “balanced” lifestyle to some, but that is not our goal. If these things begin to bring bitterness and anger to your heart and are done begrudgingly and only out of duty, then it’s time to rethink your decisions. In a sense, you are finding balance, but your standard of peace is not balance itself, but living in the will of God. 

Being the perfectionist that I am, I do a lot of things that can seem extreme to people around me, but I don’t say everyone should live how I do. It is just how I have found thus far (I am always learning and growing!) that I am able to live wholeheartedly as an ambassador of Christ and with unending thanks to my God. Your life and choices will look different and that is great! Let’s simply seek together how to live our best lives so we can glorify God to the utmost!

Apply it! What ideal have you been focusing on in your life and seeking balance in? Think about that area of life and the changes you can make to turn your focus from “balance” to gratitude and Christ-likeness? Be prepared that it might look more imbalanced or “extreme” than many would think appropriate! Don’t let that hinder you. We are living for God and not the acceptance of man.

 

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