Perfection or Bust?
What is with this tendency I have with the need to get something just right, or giving up altogether? I struggle with this ALL the time! I set a goal, and if I fall even a little short, I throw my hands in the air and say, “Oh well, that’s over.”
I am approaching my 40th birthday and decided to do a specific workout and nutrition plan that is 21 days long. My birthday is on the 21st, so starting on the 1st of the month seemed like the perfect (there’s that word again) fit. The goal for me was to greet 40 feeling strong. Week one went really well.
This is a big deal to me. It’s about more than weight or jean size. I have a history of back problems and recently had a flare up that had me walking with a cane and in constant pain for several weeks. I had to work hard to get back from that, and I know from getting it right in the past (why did I ever give up?!) that having a strong core keeps the back flares away.
Well, then this week hit, and I lost some traction. I’m getting over a cold and dealing with the respiratory aftermath. On Monday, I just couldn’t get the workout done. I beat myself up over it, because I had managed to fight through a fever and the worst of the cold during week one.
When Tuesday came, and instead of giving up because I’d lost a day, I got back to it. Yay me! But then lunch time came. My boss popped his head in my office and said he was running out for food, and was I hungry? I was all set to decline, and then he told me he was heading to Chipotle. So that resolve was forgotten. Not only the food, but I decided since I was already cheating on my plan, I might as well have soda instead of water. I beat myself up after that.
Along came Wednesday. Once again, I just couldn’t manage the workout. My lungs are taking a beating, and it just wasn’t a “fight through it” kind of thing. At that point I was two days behind and strongly considering throwing in the towel. I was feeling low.
I LOVE how God uses the people in our lives to teach us and encourage us!
Some dear friends of mine are on a coast-to-coast in 50 hours motorcycle ride. It’s a fundraiser to raise money to purchase motorcycles for missionary pastors, mostly in South America and Africa, who need affordable transportation to reach multiple communities in their mission field, so they don’t have to walk miles and miles every day. ( Paypal.me/benson625 if you want to contribute to that! )
They started out from the east coast of Florida on Tuesday and made it west of Houston before stopping to sleep. That’s impressive! Yesterday morning they got back on the bikes very early and only made it 90 miles before one of the bikes got a flat tire. Thankfully the rider was safe, but it would be a 5-hour ordeal to get the tire replaced.
The coast-to-coast in 50 hours goal was busted. There was no way to complete the challenge in time. I’m sure they considered turning back for home. I’m sure their spirits were sorta crushed. And I was watching from afar to see what these men would choose to do.
They made the decision to press on! They decided that reaching their destination even though it was later than planned was better than giving up!
I didn’t know how much I needed to see that lived out!
I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried this fitness thing before and let a bad day or two cause me to give up completely. Guess what? I got back at it this morning and feel great!
How many other ways does this perfection or nothing mentality cause me to miss out on incredible things God has for me? How many times have I started a Scripture reading plan, and then given up because life got in the way a few times? How many times have I started other great habits and given up because I didn’t get it right immediately?
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes, “Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil 4:13-14)
Forget what lies behind! Forget the fall from yesterday and KEEP GOING! You failed? So what! Do better today!
He’s talking specifically about our spiritual walk, so it is easy to see how this applies to spiritual disciplines – prayer, worship, time in Scripture, and the like… but shouldn’t this quality of perseverance be a constant for a believer?
If my goal is really perfection or nothing (and let’s go ahead and get rid of our definition of ‘perfection’ meaning without flaw and replace it with the meaning of the word translated as ‘perfect’ in Scripture: complete), then I have to adjust my expectations. Any goal worth achieving is worth the struggle it takes to get there!
Of course, there will be challenges and setbacks and stumbles and falls, but we have to keep our eyes on the goal and keep getting back up. No more giving up at the first (or second, or third, or…) sign of struggle.
Refocus. Pray. Resolve. And get back to work!