Not too long ago I talked on this blog about prayer. I called my prayer life “the biggest spiritual deficit in my life over the past year.” I want to tell you some things today. It’s okay to be imperfect. It’s okay to have a deficit in your life, a place where you come up short. If I had never recognized my weak prayer life, I never would’ve started working on it! I’m still not where I want to be with prayer, but now it’s a focus for me, it’s something I highlighted as a weakness and now I’m building it into a strength.
No one will ever be a perfect man other than Jesus. He was the only one. Yet, you wouldn’t think that if you talk to people. There seem to be tons of perfect people in the world. I tell you, it’s like we’re all these propped up versions of ourselves, we think we have to present ourselves in this perfect light. Oh church? Of course, I go every Sunday and sometimes on Saturday too, just to sit in the parking lot and pray! My marriage? Oh, so good. My love for my wife deepens daily and she’s the angel God sent down from heaven to bless me. The kids? Oh, the house is just full of laughter all day every day, they truly are the most joyous creation God ever brought into being. My Bible reading time? Oh, well you know I’ve been digging into it as often as possible, you know I even set a special alarm to get up in the morning even though I could use the extra sleep. Work? Well I’m making great money and things are really lining up for me there and there’s been a lot of talk about bumping me up to a new position and let me tell you the bonus structure is to die for.
If that’s really you. If that’s REALLY you, then I’m happy for you, and I want you to be my life coach, and I want you to write books and do seminars and teach everyone else how to be so close to perfect. But let’s be real. That may be stuff we say, but that’s not who we are. Nobody is perfect in every category, nobody is perfect on every level. And by pretending to be so, we’re hurting ourselves in so many ways.
When we pretend to be perfect, we don’t face up to our own imperfections. I used to pretend to be financially sound. I’d tell people I wrote for a community newspaper, they’d say that was interesting, and then they’d ask something like “So that’s like, a full time job? They pay you?” And I’d say yes! Of course! I’ve got money to spare! I put on this facade of financial success and security so often and to so many people that I bought into it. I’d see something I wanted at the store and I’d buy it, because like I was always saying, I had plenty of money. I’d see a game online that I wanted to buy and I’d grab it without a thought, because like I was always saying, money was fine. And I’d get to the end of the month and my bank account looked like a 14 year old got a hold of it. Pizza, videogame, toy, pizza, tacos, movies, videogame, soda, pizza, taco, breakfast burritos, movie, movie, videogame. And oh yeah, the bills were due, and I was coming up short. I was coming up short because I had myself fooled. I put on an air of perfection in my career choice, in my financial status, and I lived out the myth. I lived it straight into the ground, straight into credit card debt, straight into borrowing from loved ones.
My story is about money, but there are a million ways we can do this to ourselves. In our relationships, we can pretend to be perfect for so long that the imperfections grow so deep and so wide that the relationship crumbles. While we stood and proclaimed how great our relationship was it fell apart under our feet because we weren’t facing the facts, we weren’t addressing the problems.
When we pretend to be perfect, our imperfections go uncorrected. We buy into our own line of nonsense, we tell the lie so much that we start to believe it. And yes, just so we’re absolutely clear, pretending to be perfect is lying. I’m not suggesting that every time you’re asked about your marriage you go into an hour long explanation of all of your problems. Some things are private. What I am saying is that when we pretend to be perfect, we’re doing it to deceive others. We’re being dishonest. There’s an honest way to answer a question about your marriage if things aren’t great without revealing all the personal details. “Well, you’re married, Jim, you know as well as I do there are ups and downs.” Or how about “We’re working through a few things, but we love each other very much.” Or even this, you could say “I’d actually rather not talk about that if it’s okay with you.” That might make things a tiny bit awkward, but at least you get to go home knowing that you were honest. We’re so often stretching the truth and prettying it up when we pretend to be perfect. We exaggerate the real. And exaggeration is lying. Just because a lie is small doesn’t make it the truth. Just because a lie is small doesn’t make it less of a sin.
What does God think of lying and dishonesty? Let’s close out today’s entry with a look at that.
Proverbs 6:16-19 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: 17 haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, 18 a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, 19 a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.
When I pretend to be perfect I practice dishonesty. I bring into my life something that the Bible tells me that my beloved God hates.
PRAYER AND CLOSING
Father God, today I repent for pretending to be perfect. I was in a deep muck with all of my exaggerations and pretendings, Lord. I truly did lose the truth about myself because I spent so much time trying to pretend to be something I wasn’t. The light you’ve shined into my life revealed a lot of things about myself that I didn’t like, but man, that was followed by the love. You didn’t take a look and say “what a mess” and walk away. You looked at it all, every imperfection, every exaggeration, and you reached out your hand to help me and you said “let’s get you cleaned up.” That’s my god. That’s you. When I tell people about you, I want them to know you on that level like I do. Today I repent of all the little lies, all those small untruths that we fool ourselves into thinking are okay. I want to be a man of truth in every word and in every action. God, I ask you right now to make me so truthful that things get awkward. I want to be a man so honest that people look at me funny because of the things I’ll say. Jesus, you walked around giving people inconvenient truths, a lot of them that they didn’t want to hear. I’ve wasted a lot of my life trying to only say things that sounded pleasing to those around me. Jesus, today I say that part of my life is over. Give me only words of truth, and I ask that if a dishonest thought appears in my mind and starts going towards my lips that you would cut it off before I can speak it. Raise your people up into inconvenient truth talkers, let us worry less about how we’re going to be perceived and more about the truthfulness of what’s coming out of our mouths. I thank you that you give me a heart for truth, a heart for honesty. I’m encouraged by it, Lord, because I know these are desires that line up with you. Thank you for loving me so well, Lord, thank you for loving your people even in their imperfections. In Jesus’ precious name I pray, amen.
I love you guys. I say that a lot and I sometimes fear that people read it and think I just write those words loosely. Whoever you are out there, I want you to know that I care about you and I’m pulling for you no matter where you’re at in life. And better yet, God loves you, and man, he wants to be in a relationship with you. If God is for us, who can possibly stand against us?