“I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenword in Christ Jesus.”
-Philippians 3:14

Have you ever made a mistake? If you have never made a mistake, please tell me who you are and share your secret with the rest of us! The reality is that we have all made mistakes. The Bible tells us in Romans 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” Sin just means, “missing the mark” or in our language, making a mistake. It is a common, every-day thing. No one is exempt from it!

You would think that if it was such a common thing, that making mistakes would be an easy pill to swallow. You could look at it from the standpoint of, “Well, everyone makes mistakes, so this is just another sign that I am truly human!” But that is not the case for me. I have always been a little bit of a perfectionist. I was the kid that would get frustrated with myself because I got a B or felt like a failure because I couldn’t learn to ride my bike fast enough. I have always wanted to do everything perfectly. If I couldn’t, the narrative that ran in my head was that I simply was not good enough.

I know I’m not the only one out there to make mistakes, but I’m sure I’m not the only perfectionist out there either. We all, in varying degrees, want our lives to be perfect, and we try to attain to that perfection. We must have the degree, car, grades, job, spouse, house, kids, etc. (Nothing is wrong with those things by the way.) As long as we are attaining to those standards everything is great! The problem is, when we don’t attain success in those areas, we get angry, discouraged, and depressed. This last year I made some mistakes, and felt like I failed in some ways. I faced some disappointments that seemed to crush me. What I am learning to ask myself though is, “Where does my hope lie?” My hope is my perfection, and the ideals I had for perfection. When I didn’t meet those standards, I felt like I was stuck. I felt like I couldn’t move forward.

What about you? Does your hope lie in your perfection? We were never made to set our own standards for perfection. God has given us His own standards. He has a prize waiting for us at the end of our race. But guess what? We were also not meant to attain to those goals by our own perfection either. You see, the beauty of the Gospel is that Jesus was not only perfect, but He makes us perfect. Not that we never make mistakes again, but that as we walk with Him, He makes it all perfect despite our mistakes. He is really good at turning brokenness into beauty. If our hope lies in Jesus Christ and His perfection, then we are no longer worried about the mistakes that we make, but are constantly looking to Him to redeem them. We are no longer judging others by the mistakes they make, because we are looking to Jesus to heal them. As I give my ideals of perfection to Jesus, I no longer feel hopeless. I don’t feel stuck anymore. But, like Paul, I can forget to leave what is behind and press toward the goal to win the prize that God has call me to.

I would encourage you with this: God has something amazing for you in 2018! So, don’t carry disappointments and failures into this year! Press into Jesus’ perfection, and let Him speak to you about the great things He has up ahead. Let Him fill you with grace to attain those things.

Jesus, I pray that we would come to the end of our need to attain to the world’s standards of perfection. I pray that we would be able to move past our own imperfections and look at You! Would you lead each one of us to look to You, for in You is everything that we need. Fill us with hope for the future; believing that even our failures cannot stop what you have already set in motion in our lives. Amen!

-Christen Stern

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