What If You Didn’t Have To Be Perfect?

What If You Didn’t Have To Be Perfect? April 28, 2020

I was working through a Biblical commentary on Genesis this week for a work project and came across the word “blameless” in the Hebrew Scripture. God tells Abraham to follow him and “be blameless”.

The commentary stated that the Hebrew word for “blameless” means “complete”. I’ve always thought of blamelessness as perfection, a call to get it all correct. And I guess I could see how “perfect” and “complete” could be synonyms. But what if, in this context, there were some important distinctions?


Is Perfect Complete?

As we have said in previous blogs, fulfillment (or completion) in the way we typically think about it is not possible. In fact, it is a dangerous lie to pursue the idea that everything will be comfortable and easy just around the corner.

Yet, the idea of perfection follows us around. The voices around us, as well as our internal narrative, tell us we need to be perfect. We need to be in control, to have all the answers, to figure it all out and not struggle anymore. That, we reason, is the key to winning at life.

What if is not only impossible, but wrong? Just flat out incorrect. What if our struggle, our imperfection, is a part of what makes us unique and beautiful and full of purpose?

I know this is going to sound crazy: but what if being “complete” was more about acknowledging our weakness in vulnerability than about fixing everything we don’t like or understand about ourselves? What if perfection made us even more incomplete – in the way graduating collegiates with a perfect GPA actually struggle in the workforce because they’ve never faced the character building reality of failing and have constructed a house of cards?

I very rarely refer to my wife as “perfect”. It is not because I don’t love her. It is because she has some very real faults and it feels like it actually diminishes who she is to pretend she doesn’t. Because the absolute truth is her faults are a part of what makes her perfect. When I say she is perfect, I don’t mean she has met some arbitrary standard where she never hurts me or does anything wrong or makes a single mistake. I mean she is exactly who she is; and it is exceedingly beautiful.


So, What?

If any of this has any merit whatsoever, the next logical question is, so what? Should I just keep being exactly who I am without trying to improve as a person? Does it even matter what I do?

Of course, taking this perspective on what it means to be complete is not about what we can get away with. It is about drawing a distinction between who we are and what we do, our source of acceptance and our source of approval.

What we do matters. But we do not need to feel the weight of perfection, at least not eternally. Perfection is our ceiling, not our baseline. To be complete means to acknowledge our faults and our limits while pursuing the best version of our self that we can muster. This is the key to joy and peace in this world, letting ourselves off the hook while still holding ourselves accountable. It is a confusing balance, but the two are not mutually exclusive and are, in fact, complementary of one another.

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