The Real Meaning of Perfection
Tracie Miles

"So you are also complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every rule and authority." Colossians 2:10 (NLT)

I recently earned the unofficial title of mom-of-the-year. How? I made muffins. Not just plain ol' muffins, mind you. Chocolate chip and blueberry muffins in the cute, baby-muffin pan.

I had risen early, pre-heated the oven, and wiped the sweat from my brow, as I quietly set about my muffin-making task, just like a good Proverbs 31 woman would do. As the muffins began to appear plump and golden, the savory aroma permeated the house.

Then it happened.

My children came bolting down the stairs as if the house were on fire. One of them jumped up and down and screeched in delight, while the other one yelled, "Yeah, muffins!" They paced the kitchen until the coveted pastries were done; then gobbled them up. Everyone was happy. I was thanked, appreciated and hugged. Even though they acted as if I had never fed them breakfast before, it was still awesome. I coveted my new mom-of-the-year entitlement.

Shortly after, it was time to leave for school. I hurried everyone along, with instructions for teeth brushing, book bag gathering, and snack grabbing activities.

Then it happened.

My son exclaimed that his coat was missing, even though it had been in his hand ten minutes earlier. Apparently the coat fairy had snatched it and hid his coat in her invisible closet.

In the process of his frantic coat search, my son accidentally stepped on my daughter's toe. Not just any ol' toe, but the toe that had incurred a serious stumping injury the day before. Instant drama, tears, accusations of doing it on purpose, and flying Band-aids filled the air.

In the midst of the excitement, my other daughter discovered that the coat fairy had taken her coat too - and possibly her shoes. She was having trouble locating her things due to the onslaught of incoming text messages that kept distracting her search efforts. Thus, threats were made about losing phone privileges if it continued to interfere with life itself.

Now that my son was going to be tardy for school - again - because my daughters were not ready, again (primarily due to excessive hair-straightening obligations as opposed to muffin eating) - a heated discussion took place before we finally made it out the door.

My wonderful mom-of-the-year-Proverbs-31-woman award fell to the floor and shattered in a million tiny shreds of disappointment. Calmness, patience, mercy and joy flew out the window quicker than those Band-aids had flown around the kitchen.

Our happy, peaceful, muffin-eating, hug-giving, laugh-sharing moments seemed fuzzy memories. As we drove to school, the chaos slowly slipped away. Emotions calmed. Tears dried.

Positive, loving discussions occurred and I gradually began to feel like maybe I wasn't that bad of a mother after all.

Driving home, I realized that I was holding myself up to unrealistic standards - my own standards for perfection and performance, not God's.

You see, my heart longed to be like that seemingly perfect Proverbs 31 mom. The kind of mom who is always patient, helpful, calm, understanding and reasonable in every circumstance. The kind of mom who never loses her temper. The kind of mom whose children arise every morning and call her blessed, with or without muffins.

It's easy to get hung up on the woman described in Proverbs 31. We begin to believe that God holds us to an unrealistic standard of goodness and perfection. But God sees perfection differently than we do.

Webster's defines the word 'perfect' as "being complete; lacking in nothing." God knows we cannot be perfect physically, but He does desire that we become complete spiritually. Our spirit can be perfect through the blood of Christ, even when our flesh fails.

Our efforts to model the Proverbs 31 woman should be focused on the love that was behind her actions, not the actions themselves. This woman is simply one whose outward actions were a result of a heart being transformed into Christ-likeness. She was exemplary because God's intervention had influenced her life, not because her human efforts were perfect.

So I've decided that my love for my children, not what I cook them for breakfast, will be what determines my attitude and identity today. How about you?

Dear Lord, draw me close to You. Transform my heart, and motivate me to desire completion in You, as opposed to my own standards of perfection. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Tracie’s blog

The Uncommon Woman: Making an Ordinary Life Extraordinary by Susie Larson

Reinventing Your Rainbow by Tracie Miles

The Mom I want to Be by T. Suzanne Eller
When you purchase resources through Proverbs 31 Ministries, you touch eternity because your purchase supports the many areas of hope-giving ministry we provide at no cost. We wish we could, but we simply can't compete with prices offered by huge online warehouses. Therefore, we are extremely grateful for each and every purchase you make with us. Thank you! ________________________________________

Application Steps:
Consider who set the standards that you have been trying to live up to.

Does my inability to be perfect cause me to feel discouraged or hopeless?

Have I forgotten that my identity and value come only from Christ within me?

Power Verses:
Psalm 18:32, "It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect." (NIV)

Psalm 119:96, "Even perfection has its limits, but your commands have no limit." (NLT)

© 2010 by Tracie Miles. All rights reserved.

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Blogger candice said...

Francesca Battistelli's song I'm Free To Be Me. My favorite song that has become my mantra. It is so exhausting trying to be the be someone God doesn't want me to be.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

awesome post although my children are 21 and 26 i still want to be the perfect Mom and yes i fall short alot. thanks for your timely reminder of who sets the standards and who expects what from me.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really appreciate the concept of looking at the proverbs 31 woman based on her heart behind her actions, not her actions themselves. It is so freeing! For example, I don't need to spend "all night" making my families clothes, I just need to make sure they are cleaned with a loving attitude! :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this, we were just talking about this passage of scripture yesterday in our sunday school class.

Blogger horseprariechatter said...

Thanks for the morning waker-upper. Perfection is a problem of mine, and I forget that when I pursue perfection, I get trampled by everything else. Thanks. And praise God, His standard isn't perfection, It's His Grace

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great post, thanks for the reminder. I sometimes have the outward action of being a good mom but not the inward heart of love. Oh how I struggle to love my children unconditionally. It is only when I look to God and see how He loves me regardless of my actions, that I can strive to love my children the same way.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The God of this universe is wonderful! Although we lack so much, he gave us his son, so that through him can be made perfect. Only when we are in the Lords will we can experience the only obtainable perfection- being perfect in Christ. We praise you Lord! You are so gracious and loving to your children!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the time I was 20 years old, I've been a pastor's wife and mother of 2 children, now at age 52,the high expectations I required of myself, kept me from getting to enjoy the little things. Never feeling good enough, always disappointing myself, and wondering how all the other women I admired so much had accomplished what I seem to struggle to obtain. I purposed in my heart to tell my daughter and daughter-in-law as they have became mothers, to forget about the rules, the perfection, and pressure of other people, and enjoy the precious little angels entrusted to their care. I am now Nanna, and I am wiser one sets the standards for me...God loves me just as I am, and I love those little boys just as they are...why does it take so long to learn? How can children be perfect when they are trying to be like the imperfect parents God gave them to...thanks for telling Moms the truth...the reward is a sticky kiss or muddy hug...

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for speaking directly to my heart today. It seems, I too, through many moves, lost friendships, and empty nest have lost my "identity and confidence". I today choose to ask God once again to begin building in me and for the strength to let the walls come down.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That was beautiful and spoke straight heart. I actually had already realized that I was going about my "perfectionism" in the wrong way. I thought I could do it all, I thought I had to be perfect according to the world's standards and expectations.. But thanks to God, I have now opened my heart for God to guide through his expectations. Thank you so much for sharing, it's always good to know that I am not the only one.:)

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