I can honestly say I’ve always tried to do my best at absolutely everything. Now I quickly want to point out that trying and succeeding are two very different words. On my wedding day, as I took those vows, I dreamed of being the perfect wife. But those dreams were soon smashed to smithereens as I discovered all the things I could not even do well, much less perfectly. Some of my most memorable failures included ruining my husband’s shirts as I ironed them and dying all of his underwear pink in the laundry. And let’s just say my nickname of “Mrs. Burns” was well earned–there were many nights we just had to scratch dinner and go out to eat. And frankly, I don’t even like to cook, iron, wash clothes and I’m not good at chasing dust bunnies either. And would you believe I squeeze the toothpaste in the middle rather than from the bottom–definitely a deal breaker in the perfection category according to my husband. But praise God, he didn’t demand perfection–He loves me just as I am. What a gift.
Then the babies arrived and I renewed my attempts at perfection. They took my breath away and I adored them with every beat of my heart. In my dreams I would be the perfect mother. I stood on my head trying to keep order and peace in the midst of chaos that only four little ones can make. I made my own baby food from scratch and read every book on parenting I could find. I rose early to make sure things went well in our household and hand made their clothes late at night after they went to bed so they’d have the best–sleep took second place to my dreams for them. I worked three jobs and came home to another demanding job as mom. . .but I truly loved it…I loved them. But if you joined my crew around the dinner table they would regale you with stories of my many failures. Some of them are just plain funny, but others still tug at my heart. Oh, God, I wanted so badly to do things right. . .I gave it my best. Why wasn’t my best good enough?
Then it dawned on me. . .my best is never going to approach perfection–it will never be enough. And so I lay my feeble attempts and broken dreams at His feet because as He said to Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.’ If there is any good that comes from my efforts, it will only be because He takes my little and makes it much just as He multiplied the five loaves and two fishes of the small lad. So as I lay all my dreams at His feet, I ask for His grace and mercy and that He do a mighty work in His name. I’m so glad He is in the redeeming business.
I have a hard time identifying with those who look at others and find fault, judging them to be inadequate. Frankly, I’m too busy before the Lord pouring out my heart as David cried in Psalm 139:23-24, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I’m so thankful He is faithful and doesn’t reject ordinary people who aren’t very good at this perfection thing. And praise God He hasn’t given up on me. I praise His name for His gentle, loving Spirit who daily searches my thoughts, motives and actions, showing me His ways.