I’ve been frustrated the last few days. I don’t know about you, but for me that feeling of frustration can arrive unexpectedly and inexplicably. It can take a significant amount of time to mine the depths of my soul and discover where the feeling is coming from.
I’ve found what it is this time.
I am longing for perfection. And order.
I am longing for the IDEAL.
The source of my frustration is that those longings can not be reached here and now. I want perfect motives, perfect actions, perfect performance, perfect surroundings, perfect relationships, perfect circumstances, perfect children, perfect friends, and a perfect home. I want everything to be in it’s place and I want uninterrupted plans. I want my possessions to stay clean, undamaged, and functional. I want the small bits of beauty I’ve tried to insert into life to remain beautiful. Sheesh, I just want the kitchen floor to stay clean for a whole day!
I understand there are dangers to ‘perfectionism,’ but those dangers are realized in what we do with the desire for perfection.
The desire for perfection is not wrong. What we do with it can be.
The desire for perfection, for the ideal, is the imprint of God on our souls.
Desire for the ideal takes me down two paths simultaneously.
One path is the path of groaning. The Romans 8:22-23 type of groaning.
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.
We all are keenly aware of the fact that things are not as they should be. We fail, others fail, nature rains down disaster, our bodies and minds are slowly decaying.
Attention to our present predicament leads me, and I would imagine you too, to deep inner groaning and frustration.
But when I zoom out to get a bigger picture of it all, I am reminded that what I long for is on the horizon! The ideal and perfection will be reality one day. And I can’t wait!
That’s exactly the direction of the next few verses of Romans eight.
For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it. In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words…
My hope for perfection, for redemption of my body and of all creation, is agonizing at times. I’m so eager for what is to come that I just want to skip over all this life and get settled in my new and final home. But it is God’s perfect will that, for now, we all are where we are. Weaknesses and imperfections and all.
So we’re stuck with hopeful groanings.
Yet the beautiful thing is that the Holy Spirit is taking those sighs and groans and frustrations that we can’t put to words – He’s taking them directly to the Father for us.
And I’m further reminded of our Savior. He understood infinitely more of perfection than I do, yet subjected Himself to this weak, frail, imperfect world. And He groaned too. He understands what we feel. I imagine He had the same longing for home that we have. But He stayed, and He endured.
He asks the same of us.
We must stay and endure, entrusting all our groanings to Him.
… we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.