“What we call failure is not the falling down, but the staying down.” — Mary Pickford

Revelation 3:11-22 (esp. 19-20)
Titus 3:3-8 (esp. 5)
Romans 12

You will not reach perfection in this lifetime.

Why don’t we teach this? How much heartache could we avoid?

Some people sow frustration by planting a vine called kudzu. Have you ever seen kudzu? Somebody thought it would be great for cattle because it grows anywhere and quickly. Cows didn’t like it. It now covers the South.

Spiritual kudzu grows in our lives because people tell us perfection sits within reach. They tell us it’s attainable. They say we can live without blemish, reach a state sans ugly desire, and slough off the cravings of our eyes. This, we think, will lead us away from failure and mistakes. We can do everything God wants, everything he says we should. Our Christian membership card grants all this instantly.

People water this kudzu each time they scorn someone’s stumbling. They fertilize it when they hold up a fictional ideal of an unblemished life. Kudzu frustrates and brings despair; you continually have to cut it back. This philosophy does the same to us.

Eventually, having heard enough of this talk from others, we learn to care for the vine ourselves. We chastise ourselves for every slip, every fall. And that rogue vine starts suffocating everything under it. We think, “Something is wrong with me. God doesn’t like me, because I am not like the perfect people.” Self-hatred finds root and grows.

Kill the vine at its roots. Know that you will not reach perfection here.

We will fall. We will turn away from God’s teaching. But we can grow.

If this sounds too much like Rasputin’s sin-so-grace-may-abound philosophy, it’s not. The impossibility of attaining perfection or walking without stumbling does not license us to do whatever the moment desires. It does, however, free us from the burden of being perfect.

After we stop wrestling with the constantly creeping vine of perfectionism, we confront another kind of kudzu. When we slip or fall, we’ll hear a voice saying, “Just stay down. You’re going to do it again, so you might as well quit. Save yourself the striving, the grief.” We hear it each time we stumble.

For how many people does this authorize continuing in what they believe is wrong? “I’ve done it before, so I might as well again.” “I blew it, I lost it, I’m not perfect. Why go back?”

Keep cutting the vine back. Continue resisting the clarion call to lie down, to give in. Keep going back to the God we wound. He keeps waiting, like a father watching his infant learn to walk. Stumbles and falls will come. But each new ascent matures us.

You will stumble.  Growth may even necessitate it.

How does perfectionism suffocate?  How has it suffocated you?
Why is returning to God, getting up after we fall, so difficult? 


© 2006 Revolworks.com