Mistaking perfection as the goal,
the fearful one avoids the fray.
Yet Failure is not a title but a toll.
Look, it’s going to happen; failure is inevitable. It is vital that we change our expectations about process and perfection. By somehow thinking we have to be perfect we set ourselves up for shame and fear when we do stumble. It makes our process harder.
By the way, perfection does not come in an event. It does not happen all at once like a man breaking through a wall into the promise land. Many brandy the term breakthrough as if it is akin to winning the lottery. The expectation is that once you have a breakthrough, once you go your first day, week, or month without looking or touching or self medicating you have your breakthrough.
And in a sense you are getting better. You are changing your daily habits and patterns, You are learning a new skill set, one that leads you to getting better bit by bit. In truth, a day, a week, a month are all great mile markers. You are doing it; celebrate!
But you have not had the time to learn how to apply that skill in the full range of life, and chances are pretty good, that the pressure will rise and events will conspire and bam. You stumble. You failed. The breakthrough is now a let down. You aren’t perfect. There is a high cost to clean up your mess and it hurts. Your expectations were not met, you didn’t meet those of your spouse, your friends. Shame comes crashing in.
And really , this is one of the patterns that has created passivity your whole life. You have built a system upon the self perception that you are not trustworthy. That you will fail. That the cost of failure is too high, the price can’t be paid, so you began to fall back. To not battle, to not strive for it because you knew it is not obtainable at any price you could pay.
You become the fearful one, since you can’t win you don’t play.
Real perfection though is found through failure. Jesus learned obedience by the things He suffered. James says Faith is perfected by perseverance. Suffering and perseverance are part of the process and is worked out by trial and error. I’m not sure if Jesus failed at much (probably wasn’t a world class carpenter at age 9?), but Paul did. Peter failed as did David, Moses, and Abraham.. All of them had failed. It is the toll they paid to stay in the game and none them bore the title Failure in the end.
Real perfection is getting back up. Real perfection is getting better bit by bit. What has helped me in group is understanding that my goal and process has changed.
In a very real sense, perfection is not found in my lack of failures, but in the choices I make post failure. I choose to connect, to clean up, to engage, to learn from it and most of all to get up and fight again. The history I am making now in my life and with others is when I screw up, I fix it. You can trust me because I will own it and make it right.
The shame and fear of failure holds me back less and less. The false expectation of perfection is no longer a burden. I refuse to pick up shame from others that judge my broken dreams and failures. I am still in the game and that makes me perfect.
This blog was written by one of our small group leaders, Jason Gwynn. Let him know how you liked it in the comments below.