I spent much of this past weekend trying to figure out what I needed. I wasn’t standing in front of an open fridge surveying what I needed from the market to complete dinner’s recipe. No, I was standing in front of the mirror, inflicted by my own reflection. With my own eyes staring back at me, I searched for what I lacked.
I’ve been my own worst enemy for as long as I can recall. I have cast disapproving glares in my own direction. I’d even go as far as to say that I’m among professional ranks when it comes to introspective fault finding. I am constantly concerned with not being enough and often question what it is that I am lacking. This weekend in particular I found that not only was I lacking long hair, but with that discovery I only opened up a host of many more apparent absences in other areas of my life.
Let me rewind. This Saturday morning I had an appointment to cut my hair. I wavered back and forth and side to side whether to leave it long and go with a trim or chop it off and cut it short. Either decision should have suited me just fine. I mean we all know that cutting our hair is not life changing in the least. On the drive to my appointment, I thought I had concluded that I would opt for a healthy trim and leave it long, however at the last minute, while sitting in the stylist’s chair, I gave her permission to cut it short. Almost as soon as she started the cutting I was filled with ten million ounces of regret.
Regret? Over a haircut? How silly can I sound? But, soon after the damage was done, it was the mirror and I, hurling insults back and forth. The discussion about the hair lasted no longer than 2.5 seconds and then we got down to business. With the shorter cut and concern for how it looked, came bigger questions. Could I not pull off my new ‘do because I lacked poise? Or perhaps I lacked beauty? Was it my face, my bone structure, or did I need longer eyelashes? It must have been my body. Too round, too soft? And then it was about my brains. For what I lacked in length could I make up for in wit? In intelligence? Maybe my skin? Too fair, too impaired by blemishes? Then the digs dug deeper. Who could love me with this hair? I began to believe that I wasn’t good enough. Not good enough to be liked and certainly not loved. My heart not sweet enough and my mind not great enough.
And as I stood in front of the magnifying mirror, I realized it wasn’t about the hair. Not even about the eyelashes or wit. It had nothing to do with being round or soft but everything to do with falling drastically short of perfection. It’s been about that for quite some time. I’ve stood in front of my personal pantry for hours on end, searching for all that I lack. What is it that I need or what can I add that can make me the best version of me?
And you know what I’ve found? I have found that I am asking the wrong question. It isn’t about what I can add or what better ingredients I need. The truth is that it is about what can be taken away. And not even what I can take away but what He can.
In Psalm 18:32 it says, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.”
He makes me perfect and not in terms of beauty or brains. He makes me perfect by stripping me of the lies in which I have been deceived. The world all around us tells us of what we apparently lack or goals that we have failed to reach. We are inundated with pressures of perfectionism and they scream of what we supposedly need. But the truth? The truth is that He makes our ways perfect and He arms us with strength to stay the course. Because with Him, perfection isn’t attained when there is nothing left to add, but rather when there is nothing left to take away.
So, He takes from our shoulders our false preconceived notions of what we lack in order to be loved. With our God’s hands, the fog of lies that scream we are unworthy are wiped away. He removes from us the burdens of pretended perfection and lifts the veils we have hid under in shame. And in place of all that has been washed away, He covers us in Truth and Strength. We are filled with His love and find identity in His ways.
The world tells us of our need for perfection. Its voice can be so loud, to the point it had me debating of whether to scrounge around my apartment for spares of my once long hair to scotch tape back to my head. But God’s definition of perfection is nothing like the worlds. He is perfect and He calls us to strive towards His perfection. Meaning we grow more grace, cloak ourselves in compassion, and shed ourselves of the lies. It does not matter, my reflection in the mirror. What matters is that He offers me strength as he guides me in His perfect way. Through His mercy He takes away all I have added in my false attempts of perfection and as I abide in Him He blesses me as I strive to see glimpses of Him in my reflection.