Updated: Sep 17, 2018
Does this picture bother you? If it doesn't, then this post is probably not for you. But if you wouldn't be able to resist flipping that one rogue pencil around, then read on...
A Birthday Gone Wrong
The frosting's tragic descent down the side of the cupcakes was matched only by the beads of sweat slowly skiing down my friends faces. "Nice, Rebekah. Nice." I thought. "Who holds a kids birthday party outdoors, in the middle of summer?" Sure, our children were having a ball frolicking around on the splash pad, but the same couldn't be said for us. While I apologized profusely, mumbling something about being a Florida newbie, my friends smiled graciously through their obvious discomfort. Yep, there was that familiar sensation rising up in the pit of my stomach. It felt like...failure.
Back at home, I threw my bag on the counter and began to offload on the Lord.
"Well that was ridiculous."
"Why are you upset?" He asked.
"Because I wanted so badly to give everyone a good time— to do something well, to 'get it right,' for once!" I whined.
"Why does that bother you ?'" The question caught me off guard for a moment.
"Because...because...I wish things could be perfect! I wish that I could be perfect— that I could always get it right and not be falling short all the time!"
"But you don't have to be perfect," The response was unexpectedly gentle.
"That's my job."
I stood there for a moment, stunned, bathed in the tangible sense of grace and love washing over me.
At that moment, I remembered a picture God showed me many years before, of a piece of swiss cheese, riddled with holes.
While we are on earth, we are so riddled with flaws and shortcomings that we are like human swiss cheese. But God wants to take those "holes" and make us whole.
"I fill in the "gaps" in your life" I had felt the Lord say. I cover your deficiencies, I "fill in" for you, every time you fall short and don't reach the standard you feel you should." I remembered another revelation I had come across— that we are all like "cracked pots." His perfection is contained within imperfect vessels— us.
" But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us." (2 Cor. 4:7)
I used to really wonder about another scripture— the one that says "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect." Matt 5:48 That's asking the impossible, I thought. But then I realized— God isn't asking us to be perfect, he is asking us to let His perfection shine through us. The more "cracks" we have, the more opportunity there is for God's power to be made manifest.
[Just to clarify, in this context I am not talking about moral shortcomings— although there certainly is grace available to us when we are genuinely repentant. I am referring to the pressure to excel at everything, all the time.]
So go ahead- be nice to yourself. Take the pressure off today. If you find yourself feeling like a failure because you didn't meet your own or someone else's high expectations of you, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that God has it covered. Although you are a "clay vessel," there is grace available to you you in every moment, in every circumstance. After all, it's not your job to be perfect— it's God's.