But let me also say this: we don't want to be perfect anyway. As much as we say we want to be perfect. As much as we punish ourselves for being anything less. As much as we labor and yearn and burn to be perfect...we don't really want that. This is not some bold proclamation that we shouldn't want that; I am telling you from my own words and from yours, we really don't.
That truth hit me yesterday when I was thinking about heaven, and it blew my mind. At first, I thought that at some point, maybe I or someone else had....nope. We just don't want perfect.
Let me prove it to you.
When you kick off your shoes and change into your pajamas and get ready to hit your bed, and you look back and start thinking about your day...have you ever thought you had a day that was just about perfect? Certainly. We all have. You get this content little smile and something inside you nods just a little and you know this day has been it. It's been just about perfect. We might even tell our friends - Today was perfect! Or...yesterday was perfect! (particularly if we're of the mind that if we declare today perfect before it's over, we're inviting imperfection into its remaining few minutes or hours) So...what made it perfect?
In all the perfect and near-perfect days you've ever had...and for each of us, there are probably at least a handful...how many of them were because you were perfect? None?
I know that for me, the answer is none. For every person who has ever ventured to share a perfect day with me, not a one of them, either, has said the day was perfect because they were perfect in it. It's perfect because it's perfect around us. It's the weather we walk in, the company we keep, the experiences we have, the opportunities and chances and blessings and moments. Everything that's perfect about a perfect day is around us. And we're able to throw ourselves into it, get sucked in, let go, forget to think about it, simply enjoy it, taste all its offerings, and then later realize that it's perfect.
On the other hand, we have those days, too, where we're pretty sure we're perfect. Where we nailed it. Where we really did awesome. Have you had your handful of those, too? And how did those make you feel? ....for me, unfilled. Angry. Bitter. Unrecognized. Offended. Because when I've been just about perfect, when I've rocked it as only I can and as I believe I was meant to, I know that it's really easy for me to wonder why the rest of the world is not stopping to acknowledge my awesome. I mean, I've made it! For one whole day, I achieved 'perfect,' and certainly, this should mean something. To everyone else. To God. To me. But it's lonely and hollow at the top of perfect.
We never really want our own perfection. We want those aforementioned perfect days. The ones that aren't perfect because we were perfect in them but were perfect simply because we were able to be in them at all. Days that seemed built just for us, for all our imperfections and for simply how we are. Days that seem to have met us right here and exploded into awesomeness not because of but in spite of us. That's perfect.
So I got to all of this when I was thinking about heaven. When a thought popped into my mind of the Garden of Eden, of the world as it was created to be and as creation will one day be again. I thought about Adam and Eve, who lived perfect but would they have ever known that such was perfect? No. They had no concept of perfect; God had not laid that out for them. God looked at the work of His hands and never said it was perfect. He said it was good. What Adam and Eve had was 'good.' That's what they knew.
That's what we know, too, but seldom find the words to say so. 'Perfect' is in the 'good.' Intellectually, we look at the Garden of Eden and the promise of heaven and we see perfect. We will be perfected there, we are taught. And we believe. Yet every vision we have of either place has nothing to do with what we might consider our own perfection. When we dream of heaven, we dream of the perfection all around us. Of the untarnished, created world restored to its perfect state that we are then blessed to live in. We think...of good. As it was originally intended.
The same is true when we think of our perfect days. When we sit back and look at the days that make us smile, the ones that like Mary, we hide in our hearts, or the ones we could talk about for weeks - when we pore over the days we'd proclaim as perfect - something within us knows that they weren't so legalistically, imperfectionlessly, flawlessly perfect. They were just good.
You'd think, then, we could take it a little easier on ourselves. Stop pushing toward this imaginary goal we're never going to achieve and that, even when we're working from the Promise that says we will be perfected, makes us think more wholly of simply 'good' than anything else. We need to wrap our heads around what our hearts already know: that perfect is a myth and we wouldn't want it anyway.
What we want, both here and there, both now and forever, what we see in our hearts when we picture perfect and perfected...is nothing more than 'good.' But 'good' is perfect.