Dear Perfectionist

 
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As a child, I loved completing Mario Kart challenges. In fact, I was obsessed with perfecting these challenges in one try. I was obsessed to the point of pausing the entire game and restarting it when I knew I would not be able to get three stars within the given time limit. I didn’t care if I had to restart the challenge a thousand times before receiving a score. As long as the records showed a perfect score on my “first” try, I was willing to go the distance.

Thinking about this a few years back, I laughed and thought that was just my personality. I simply thought I was driven from a young age. Looking back, I realize it was something much deeper than ambition. I know so because many times, I find myself in the same place as the 10 year old girl who wouldn’t move forward unless she had attained perfection.

Although we do everything with excellence as unto the Lord, I believe our doing for the Lord can easily become a doing for ourselves if we do not hold onto the foundational truth of grace. For most of us, we associate grace with rebellious pasts and occasional stumbles in our walks with God. But the truth is that grace is not only the solution to our sinfulness. It is also the beginning of our holiness. The more we associate grace solely with failure and sin, the longer we will live as striving perfectionists and miss out on the transformative power of grace in our everyday lives.

Here are three ways I found breakthrough in my own walk when I began to learn to receive God’s grace:

Grace Leads to Freedom

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1

I am convinced that there is a generation of believers who have not truly experienced the freedom of grace. Not the freedom to live in sin: surely, I am no advocate of abusing grace (Rom. 6:15-16, Gal. 5:13). But a freedom from self-righteousness, un-godly burdens, and fears. Many of us are bound by the fear of not being perfect. This fear paralyzed me as a young girl and still paralyzes many from living in the freedom we are called to live in.

In Galatians 5, Paul says that “it is for freedom that Christ has set us free.” Obviously, Christ set us free for the sake of freedom, but Paul says this because many of us knowing this truth will still try to find freedom on our own. But isn’t that exactly what Christ set us free from? Christ not only set us free from sin and slavery, He also set us free from being in bondage by the same yoke of slavery. We were never meant to live under the fear of the law (Gal. 5:4).

Grace Leads to Humility

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

Many of us are afraid, but also embarrassed of not being perfect. I was insecure about my incapabilities, yet prideful about my capabilities. So, I shied away from any opportunity that gave me the chance to grow because it was hard for me to accept any form of failure in the process. To make matters worse, I ignored convictions to take steps of faith in my life because it required me to trust in God’s strength rather than my own. At times, I was so insecure that I settled for a life of sin and defeat because I believed I would fail no matter what I did.

However, grace will always be humiliating to the self-sufficient, but humbling to the hungry. Apart from His grace, we live in constant insecurity that leads us to self-dependency. But in his grace, we live in humility knowing the Lord can use us in our shortcomings (1 Cor. 1:27). When we realize His grace is not supposed to be available to us for just one night at the altar, we live in humility knowing that we need it every day (Lam. 3:22-23).

Grace Leads to Holiness

“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life.” Romans 6: 22

I am confident that we can only live in holiness when we live under his grace. What Christ did for us on the cross does not just remove guilt and shame, it propels us and empowers us to live far beyond that. Paul says that God’s grace teaches us to say “no” to the world, but also teaches us to live righteous and godly lives (Ti. 2:11-12). We are not called to live in the defense as slaves to sin, fear, and death. We are called to live in the offense as children of God, heirs of the Most High King (Gal. 4:7). Christ’s grace is the one way He paved for us to walk in holiness (2 Tim. 1:9).


Although God’s grace has led me to encounter these breakthroughs in my walk, I am still in the process of learning how to live in this grace daily. I encourage you to join me in asking the Lord to show you what true grace looks like in your everyday life.

 

Ashleigh Park (@achiibear) is a children’s pastor at Thanksgiving Church. She is currently pursuing a degree in Elementary Education at Long Beach State University and lives in Cypress, CA.

 
 
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