I have a family member who strives to have everything in his life perfect. Everything he builds, buys, fixes, and owns. Anything that breaks down or fails him becomes the greatest of embarrassment and source of immediate anger. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to upkeep your belongings and make your property look nice. But his desire for perfection comes from deep insecurity and causes great harm.
The source of his striving for ‘perfection’ is a childhood where he was criticized relentlessly for every little thing he did wrong. Everything had to be a lesson and lecture and there was no such thing as Grace. It was ongoing, insufferable nagging and it destroyed any chance of security and love built into him from his parents. Somewhere along the line, something snapped in him and he made an unconscious decision that he was never going to fail or have anything he owned fail so that he wouldn’t have to suffer that pain again. The problem is that nobody is perfect and every little incident becomes a knife stabbing into his deep wounds within his heart.
The hardest part is that he has become the lecturer and the scrutinizer. You always feel like you have to tip-toe around his house and yard, and if he ever lends you one of his possessions he watches, waiting for you to screw up so that he can tell you what you did wrong. It is a hovering cloud of criticism and know-it-all-ism, which makes everyone uncomfortable and fearful to even speak around him.
Now it drives me up the wall because I struggle with the same affliction. I love doing everything right the first time because ‘failure’ brings up a lot of old hurts from the past that I don’t like dealing with. When everything is going right, nothing hurts. When things go wrong, it gets uncomfortable and God begins showing me the broken things He wants to heal.
And the worst part is I tend to put that same expectation on the people around me too. Now all of a sudden every mistake they make becomes more important than showing grace, forgiveness, and love for the person. A disappointment leads to a sharp tongue, which leads to hurt feelings, which leads to broken relationships, which leads to anger bitterness and hatred. Is the ongoing care and quality of my possessions more important than a person’s heart?
Imagine if God criticized every little thing you did, every little sin you committed, and every accident you had. God has promised that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, which is the ultimate demonstration of grace. God will bring correction and guidance when we get off track but He never condemns us. Instead of condemnation for our sin, he purchased for us a way to be forgiven at the cross. Now if God doesn’t condemn and criticize mercilessly (which he would have every right to do) then why do we?
It blows my mind that the only one who is truly perfect is the one who doesn’t condemn. But the ones who will never be perfect on our own merits are the ones who are so stingy with grace. Something is wrong.
Maybe that’s why God is love and we’re in so much need of it.