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Perfection: An Impossible Dream?

Don Quixote and sidekick showing impossibility of having perfection, impossible dream.

There are people who get up in the morning and set out on a quest to be perfect in all they say and do, seeing their foibles and faults as giants to be conquered, when they are only simple windmills on life's landscape. They are like Don Quixote seeking perfection in an imperfect world.

Seeking a Lost Way of Life

In Don Quixote, the novel written by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, a nobleman by named Alonso Quixano loses his sanity as he reads novels about chivalry, a way of life he believes is lost. With a peasant farmer named Sancho Panza, he sets out to revive the world of chivalry and bring justice to the world under the name of Don Quixote de la Mancha.

Is perfection available to you on this earth?

Don Quixote imagines he is living out a story of a chivalrous knight undoing wrongs. His well-intentioned exploits create problems for himself and the characters he meets along the way. He eventually returns to his home village after experiencing defeat.

Seeking to be perfect in what you do or say is an admirable goal. However, a person exhibiting perfectionism seeks to be flawless in all they do. They also hold themselves and others up to unreasonably high standards, and are critical with themselves and others when they fall short of those standards.

Perfectionism Can Be Trouble

Pursuing the goal of perfection is a positive thing, but when it becomes perfectionism, it can get you into trouble, just as Don Quioxte's imaginings caused problems. In addition to putting excessive pressure on yourself, there are other signs you are on the wrong side of the pursuit of perfection.

You will never feel good enough or completely satisfied with anything you do. You are often excessively critical of yourself and others, unconsciously hiding your own imperfections. For you, everything is either good or bad. There is no middle ground. And you link your identity and worth to being perfect.

A Healthier Approach

A healthier approach emphasizes being the very best you can be, more focused on the process of being who you are rather than what you accomplish or fail to do. As you strive daily to use your God-given abilities and gifts the way for which God purposed them, you are doing your very best to live the perfect life as the perfect you, as God envisioned for you.

Ultimately, is there perfection available to you while you are on this earth? It is only when you have the love of God in you by following his Word that you are perfected, spiritually perfected, as you serve the way Jesus Christ served, not in an imaginary perfect way, but in the valleys serving others where life is real.

Additional reading:

Listen to God’s Words

Indeed, there is no one on earth who is righteous, no one who does what is right and never sins. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:4)

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. (1 Peter 4:10)

Also read: Deuteronomy 15:11, Philippians 3:12-14

In the Words of Others

“Perfectionism is a dangerous state of mind in an imperfect world.” Robert Hillyer

“Seeking perfection in human affairs is a perfect way to destroy them.” Jaron Lanier

“Perfectionism is self-abuse of the highest order.” Anne Wilson Schaef

Think About It

  • Do you ever feel dissatisfied with everything you do? Do you feel unworthy when you fail to accomplish something?

  • Can you recall a time when your excessive criticism and unreasonably high expectations hurt a loved one or a friend? What could you have done differently?

  • What are the ways in which you can be more perfected here on earth by showing your love for God through serving

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