I have always been skeptical towards the term perfection. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It is just one of those words that have never really sat right with me. To me it connotes a sense of striving and relentlessness, a never-ending desire to complete. It is about doing whatever it takes to reach that perfect end goal. The perfect last touch on that painting, the perfect score on that test, the perfect look.
Something I’ve become more open to is excellence. Different from perfection, excellence is about doing something to the best of your abilities. I believe it encourages things such as growth and climbing the ladder of skill as natural steps at getting better at something. It enriches one’s craft instead of judging it. It pushes you to challenge yourself instead of measuring yourself to others. In these ways it relieves the mind instead of stressing it. All in all it strikes me as more humble.
Yet the society we live in - the western world - embraces perfection as a virtue. In an increasingly indiviualistic world perfection is deemed as a strength. Sportsmen and artists are often praised for their rigorous and perfectionist approach to life. But, often times the fear of failure seems stronger than the joy of success. And the satisfaction only comes if you get it perfect.
Honestly I do not believe my real problem with perfection is perfection itself. Actually I don’t think perfection needs to be bad at all. When something is perfect, it’s gotta be pretty good, on an objective level I mean, right? It can be objectively pleasing to the eye or overall beneficial. I think my problem with perfection has more to do with the people that I connect with it. People full of arrogance and elitism and with a judgemental attitude. To be fair I do not think I’m the only one with this in mind when I think of the term, and maybe that is because it largely is a reality. Perfectionists turn bitter and judgemental. The concept of perfection seems to have become too big for us, and as a result of our striving we have corrupted it.
It’s getting close to Christmas. The Christmas story is a fascinating story about the rightful King of all the earth born, humiliatingly, in poor and unworthy conditions. He was perfect, above everyone else. And still, God purposefully put him there in that stable. It is as the Norwegian folk artist Odd Nordstoga (That’s his actual name) put it:
“...Men’s opportunities is not best represtented by great warlords and weapons, but by a small child in a manger, a new life. And that isn’t something to take lightly”
There’s plenty of things that needs to be reshaped in this world. Our relationship to perfection is one of those. Let Jesus in the manger inspire you to have a more humble outlook on life so that your dreams and goals can live peacefully alongside your friends and family.
By Trond Brandal