I struggle with the idea of perfection. Mentally- I know that nothing is ever really perfect and I also know that perfectionism is a cruel task master. But still- I notice how often I say, "That's perfect" or just, "perfect!" Is it really? Probably not. We love for people to tell us something we did was perfect even though we know it wasn't. We want our skin, our hair and our makeup to be perfect, to accessorize perfectly, for our outfit to be perfect for the occasion. We want to have the perfect thing to say when someone is hurting or sick or upset. We want to give the perfect gift to people we love, to take our kids on the perfect vacation, to plan the perfect wedding and honeymoon. It's a lot of pursuit of perfection for people that know perfection isn't possible. Why do we love perfection so much? I think it's because we don't love the real or the authentic because the real is messy. It's just so, well, real. And when people see the real, they see the truest part of ourself. And that feels very scary and very vulnerable. People can reject the illusion of perfection we try to project and it may hurt our feelings but it doesn't cut us to the core because even as we show it to the world, we know it's not real. It's not the real you so they aren't rejecting the real you. But if we show who we are with all our faults and imperfections and glorious wonder- and people reject that person- well, we are not sure we can stand that kind of rejection.
I really like to watch The Voice- it is a TV show where celebrity singers coach other singers in a competition to find "the Voice." I like this show for many reasons but one is that they don't have judges- they have coaches. We have enough judges in the world- couldn't we all use a few more coaches in our life? The idea of a coach or mentor is very Biblical (i.e. disciples and their Teacher). These coaches pick the members of their team based on what they hear and the potential they see underneath it all. They come alongside these singers and encourage them - they tell them all the wonderful things about their voice that make them unique and they offer advice on ways to protect their instrument and strengthen their performance. For most of these singers, it doesn't even matter if they win because either way- win or lose- by the time they leave the competition- their life has been forever changed by the investment these coaches have made in their lives.
Last week, I listened to one young girl sing her song- and it was very good. I'm no professional but I didn't hear anything wrong with it. But for some reason, I didn't care if I heard it again so I was thinking I would just fast forward when she sang it for the live competition. then her coach, Pharrell Williams, approached her on the stage to give his feedback. he said "That was really really good. It was technically perfect." Then he went on to say something really profound.."You need to take down the veil of perfection and let us see you."
Wow. That's what was missing from her performance that I couldn't put my finger on. It was perfect. But it wasn't real. It was a veil that covered up her true emotion and connection with her song. You heard the right notes in the right places but something just didn't connect with your heart. It was perfect but not authentic. We never got to see her, her heart, her passion, her imperfection. Even a crack in her voice would have conveyed some depth of emotion that her perfect performance did not.
So it made me think- in our pursuit of perfection- what are we missing? What are the people around us missing when they don't get to see the real us? We all have a song- our story, our life- is a song in a sense. Are we spending all our time trying to sing the right notes in the right places? Or are we free to live authentically and imperfectly as we follow our Teacher and learn from Him? He is a pretty encouraging Coach- He loves to point out the unique qualities we have that make us like no other in His creation. He will gently come alongside and show us how to take care of the song He has given us and how to grow stronger in Him. And in the end- if we have spent our life walking alongside our Coach- it really won't matter what we have accomplished or how perfect things turned out- because we will be forever changed by the investment He has made in our lives. And our song will be a beautiful song that no one else can sing.