Starting in, I would say, high school I became fully aware of the way I presented myself and how the things I did, had, thought and said affected the way that other people viewed me. I was a good kid, truly, you can even ask my parents. I think they got off pretty darn easy when it came to worrying if I was in any trouble or if I was failing my classes. Don't get me wrong, I wasn't a perfect child but my parents trusted me and keeping that trust in tact was enough motivation to not get into trouble. I think the worst thing I did was TP our football coaches house with the entire team and all the coaches inside, planning their attack of the state playoff game! I was a straight "A" student, had at least one job from the time I was just over 16, I was in multiple extracurricular activities and had great friends who were on the same mental track as I was. I think I inherently had this instilled in me, from my parents but perfection came like a second nature as well. I had to have the newest, greatest clothes, shoes, school supplies, car, etc. I never wore anything less than a T-shirt and jeans to school with matching shoes most days as well. Not showering was NOT an option, I had to have my hair done and make-up flawless every day, even if I had PE later that day. I actually made my schedule so that i would have PE first thing so I was able to not have to mess up my hair or makeup in the middle of the day. I semi-worked to get the best grades in every class I was in. I was friends with mostly everyone in high school(in a high school with 200 total kids, you know everyone), was in the "popular" crowd and I would say pretty well liked by teachers and students alike.
This mentality followed me into college. I decided to pledge a sorority because all sorority girls were perfect and were instantly escalated in social status just by association! I wanted that, I needed that, so I got that! As part of that organization it was also instilled in us that what you do, how you speak and how you treat others reflects not only you but the organization. I loved that, our organization had a great reputation on(and off) campus which furthered the perfection. I also went to a tough school. It wasn't Harvard or Yale but it was difficult and only the truly intelligent, driven, bound to succeed type were accepted(I really don't know how I got in, still to this day!). It was very cut throat and while it took me a bit to get accustomed to this, I thrived. I pushed, scratched, and clawed my way to the top of every class I took. This was my definition of perfection: image, intelligence, association, acclimations, and acquired things and I had it all.
Then I graduated from college and had no job, for three months. The one job I got was something that i believe was below me. Please don't take this as ungratefulness because I was eternally grateful for my first job out of college. I learned so much more than I could have ever imagined but it didn't exude the perfect image of a thriving young professional that I wanted. Ok, fine. The job's not the CEO position I was hoping for out of college but I'll deal. Apartment isn't the fancy schmancy loft downtown that I had my eye on, ok. I'll deal with that too. I was saving money living in the pot infested, baby mama-drama, slumlorded apartment anyway. I think it was during my last year as an apartment manager when I realized that my view of perfection was so off. I think I was working so hard to make sure everyone else KNEW I was perfect that I missed out on a lot of the, maybe not perfect but really cool, other stuff.
Slowly, I started shedding my daily rituals, stripping down my thought process and in essence releasing myself from the perfection frame of mind that I had. God has been refining my thoughts to not continuously strive to be perfect but to see his grace, peace, patience and many other virtues as perfect. Which, in turn, as I grow more in Him I am coming to see perfection in a different light. I'm not striving for perfection in my life but a life more like Christ, who is the only perfect thing. Now I find perfection in the most ordinary, daily routines or in some not-so-great situations or in things that have pushed my limits in every way possible. Now when I think of perfect, I don't think of how I can make myself seem perfect to others I see things like last weekend's camping trip where I froze half to death, almost got eaten by raccoons and had to walk past the gross non-flushable toilets to get to one that did flush. Last weekend was perfect. If you were one of the few that braved the cold/furry rabid creatures/woods/bugs/nature, you can't NOT look back on last weekend and not smile. I think it would be impossible. The last day I saw my friend's dad before he died (Read here) was a perfect day. Having my aunt tell Meg and I stories about her crazy family and then going out to dinner was perfect. Getting to hear laughs from the greatest nephew in the whole world is perfect. Drinking coffee on the porch with my dad before everyone else wakes up, is perfect. Selling my first piece of artwork (read here) (and here) on the 9 year anniversary of my mom's death was bittersweet but it was pure unadulterated perfection. I like this verse, because it reminds me that God gives us these moment, these events and the only roll we play in it is to praise Him for what He has done for us and blessed us with.
James 1:17 (New International Version)
17Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.