I wanted to use a filter. To brighten the shadows, bump up the contrast, enhance the saturation. I wanted to click edit and adjust the tint on my face to better match the lack of color on my neck. To shrink my nose. To make my eyes more blue and my face more smooth. I wanted the image to look more perfect. To look flawless. To look beautiful.
But by whose standards? What is beautiful, flawless and perfect? What is the benchmark? How am I gauging this? What scale am I using?
Turns out there are two ways to look at perfection. The first way comes from the world.
The world’s definition is pretty darn complicated. It changes every decade. It can differ by gender. It is different by every culture. And in many ways we deem it to be in the eyes of the beholder which adds a whole other level of immeasurable complexity. This was blatantly revealed to me in high school when one boyfriend told me I was beautiful and that same year while I still looked exactly the same, another boy broke up with me telling me its because I was not beautiful. I was in the same decade, the same gender, in the same high school and quite possibly wearing the same outfits. Thanks for the clarity guys.
But I don’t blame them. The world’s definition is fickle and I wonder if that’s why we feel so confused and inadequate so often. I bet they felt it too. This moving target is why we feel the need to learn how to contour our face (thanks interwebs) and why there are entire industries devoted to teeth whitening, colored contacts, tanning, piercing, tailoring, and of course the megamoneysuck that is the hair care industry of which I am a loyal card carrying frequent shopper. And that doesn’t even address the lovely additional body image debates about your height (high heels!), waist (crunches, diets & corsets), butt (impants? squats?) and boobs (I could write another blog post just about this obnoxious topic). Honestly, the thought of all this is exhausting. And many of us go through this every day and some multiple times each day.
I wish there was an easier definition of perfection.
- One that wasn’t so elusive.
- One that didn’t shift and sway with every decade.
- One that inspired me versus belittled me.
- One that could not be tweaked with a filter or photoshop.
- One that looks at my insides and not my outsides.
The world view is (ironically) quite flawed. When I look around at the people walking this earth, none of them are perfect. No one is.
So if we shouldn’t be chasing the world definition of perfection… What should we be chasing?
What if we entertained for just a moment that God, the one who created the universe and everything in it, (including you and me), also created the definition for the word perfect. What would that look like?
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
If we look up perfect in God’s dictionary it says this: Jesus.
Between the lines and the verses and the context and the conversation. Between the prophets and the people and the sacrifice and the mistakes and the victories. Between the generations and the past and the future there is this guy.
It sounds silly but in my mind I’d like to think this guy Jesus had crooked teeth. That maybe his nose was too big. That his eyes weren’t symmetrical and that maybe his hips were off so his gait was a little off too. I’d like to think that by a world’s definition he wasn’t really “a looker”. That Jesus wasn’t eye candy. That we might think he needed a filter or an edit button to be visually perfect.
I want to believe that because it’s more powerful to imagine Jesus’ perfection was only because of something else entirely. Turns out it was. He was perfect because:
- of the life he lived… according to God’s direction
- the words he said… according to God’s thoughts
- the actions he took… according to God’s prompting
- and the love in his heart… God placed there from the very beginning.
That’s the kind of perfect I want to strive for. That’s the kind of perfect I want to chase.
It’s a definition that doesn’t change. That I can have at my fingertips. It’s defined by a journey not an image. It’s a process not a one-time casting call. It is slow and steady and forgiving and encouraging.
It’s okay to chase perfection as long as you’re chasing the right definition.
It’s okay to live life without a photo filter.
The casting call already happened and God chose me.
Now it’s time to show up to work.
inspired after week one of the Proverbs 31 study from LifeLifeBeautifully.com