I’ve been pretty addicted to the TV series ‘Dexter‘ recently. It’s brilliant! I’ll definitely be blogging about it at some point; I have a few ideas in mind. Today though, I want to talk about something I saw in the first episode of the third season. I was particularly struck by a phrase that was used in the show – the ‘tragedy of perfection’.
We (I’m focussing this on me at this point more than ever) often strive for perfection at all costs. Whether it’s the perfect family, the perfect job, the perfect reputation or the perfect house, we crave the best. After all, it’s what we see every day on television isn’t it? ‘Real’ people doing extraordinary things. It can be a huge asset at times – people change the world by standing on the shoulders of adequacy and reaching far higher than others thought possible. I could make a passing comment about Steve Jobs and Apple at this point, but I won’t. How about Henry Ford? His drive (excuse the pun) for perfection led him to be a major sponsor of the development of the modern-day assembly line. He would have been successful without it, but because of his influence there is now estimated to be over one billion cars worldwide. Crazy.
Having said that, our constant determination to try and be the perfect models for everyone else to follow can lead to some negative consequences. We push so hard for perfection, so much so that sometimes we don’t realise that we’ve pushed perfection further away from us. It’s the tragedy of perfection that the television show talked about. I think there are a number of ways that the tragedy of perfection can affect our own lives:
Our thirst for perfection makes us hide our real selves.
Have you ever hidden some of your deepest darkest thoughts from people, through fear that they might not think the same of you? Come on, let’s be honest. We all have. The fact is, we don’t want people to know what we’re really like. What if they don’t like that part of us? It’s a daunting prospect. But by wearing a mask, we don’t allow the people that care to help us grow. By being something we’re not to try and appear like we’ve ‘got it all together’, we actually stall our progress towards ‘getting it all together’ as no one even knows that there are issues to be solved. I’m not saying you tell the world every bad thought you’ve ever had, rather that you should find someone to hold yourself accountable to. Mentors are fantastic – I’d be lost without mine and I’ve grown so much through his wisdom in my life. If I wasn’t honest with him, I’d simply be papering over the cracks instead of fixing them. By pretending to be perfect, we stall our growth.
Our thirst for perfection causes us to worry about the future so much we miss the present.
I’ve mentioned this many times before, but I love the future. I love to dream big dreams. But there have been times where I’ve been so concerned about getting every step towards future perfect that I don’t stop to enjoy the present. A classic example for me are the church meetings that I play in. Often, I am so worried about making sure I play my parts completely perfectly when I go back on stage (the last thing I want to do is distract anyone by playing the wrong notes) that I miss all that God is trying to say through the message. Do you ever have moments like that? Don’t try so hard to get somewhere or be something in future life that you forget to be you right now. We cannot let our thirst for perfection cause us to miss some of the most perfect moments in our lives.
Our thirst for perfection puts the focus on us and not on God.
I hate admitting this, but unfortunately it’s the truth – we will never be perfect. In the entire history of mankind, only one man has succeeded in perfection: Jesus. If we could manage perfection on our own, there would be no need for Jesus. Since Adam and Eve, we have been imperfect. Sin makes us that way and there is nothing we can do ourselves to change it. When we fail to acknowledge our own imperfections, the focus is on us and not on God. Jesus died in place of our sin and through his perfect sacrifice gave us hope for eternal life with our Father in Heaven. Our focus has to be on Jesus because without him we are hopeless.