The Lie of Perfectionism

We live in an imperfect world, but many of us try to be perfect. 

I love Instagram—it connects people, it is a place to share our lives through video and photography, and it can be used to positively influence people. Nevertheless, Instagram is also a medium of communication where people strive to portray their life as fascinating and nearly flawless. We post photos that seem effortless, we have curated feeds, and we edit our photos and videos to show the world our flawless life and best self. We all know that this perfect world we create on Instagram is only a snapshot of our life that is heavily edited—cropping, filtering, captioning, and of course the many shots we had to take to get the perfect photo. 

Why do we try to portray our life as flawless and perfect? 

Why do marriages hide their imperfections? 

Why do families hide their messiness? 

Why do individuals mask their struggles and weaknesses? 

Why are we afraid to communicate our mental health struggles and suffering?

For some reason we have believed in this false reality of perfectioninism. We have imagined that the world around us expects perfection and rejects our weaknesses, flaws, imperfections, and struggles. This reality is not possible. There is only one perfect human that walked this earth—Jesus. And you and I are not Jesus!

PERFECTION IS NOT REAL 

We live in an imperfect world. We live in a world that is permeated with brokenness and imperfection. We live in a world that has sickness, sadness, anxiety, depression, stress, gossip, loss, betrayal, division, financial struggles, and poverty. We live in a world that has imperfect marriages, imperfect families, and imperfect humans. 

PERFECTION IS OVERRATED

We will never be perfect. It is impossible on this earth. Perfection is fictitious. Perfection is overrated. Michael Jordan, my second favorite basketball player (Kobe will always be first!), was the best basketball player who has ever played the game. Yet, he failed a lot. He even has a famous quote about failure: “I've missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I've lost almost 300 games. Twenty six times I've been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” Our imperfections, failures, and brokenness can actually be the fuel for growth and opportunity to positively impact people. 

PERFECTION IS NOT RELATABLE 

Perfection is something that we all try to be and portray at times, but we all know deep in our soul that we will never be perfect. We look at other people’s lives and hope that we can be as put together as they are. Yet, they too are imperfect. When we began to show our scars, struggles, pain, and weaknesses something beautiful and amazing happens. People take interest. People are inspired. People open up.  Why? Because they can relate to your imperfections—they too have scars, struggles, pain, and weaknesses. 

PERFECTION IS EXAUSTING

Striving to be perfect is exhausting. It promises so much, but it rewards us with weariness and frustration. It is not possible to be perfect. I am not perfect. You are not perfect. And that is ok. Jesus spoke these fitting and life changing words for those who are exhausted in their pursuit of perfection: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) We can stop striving. We can find rest in Jesus. We can stop the pursuit of perfection, and find rest in the reality that we are imperfect and have brokenness in our lives. We can also rest in the fact that Jesus loves each and every one of us with our imperfections and brokenness. 

Wesley Towne