My son gets hurt and immediately gets angry, not wanting any comfort from me. If he can't make the Legos stick together as planned or accidentally drops his newly made bristle block rocket and the pieces scatter, he cries in frustration. If he is exasperated with Mommy making him practice his violin piece again, he is quick to abandon all effort. Why is he so quick to roar his rage or cease trying? He is coveting perfection. He has an entitlement to all circumstances benefiting him. He, like all of us humans, has happily ever after in his heart.
I recently watched Eat, Pray and Love, a story about Elizabeth Gilbert who goes on a quest for true happiness and contentment. What I really enjoyed about this movie, other than reminiscing about my solo trip with a one way ticket to self-discovery a mere 15 years ago, was her astute awareness of each moment. All her senses were heightened as she navigated her way through unfamiliar alleys, restaurants, languages, taxi rides, countrysides, relationships, and liturgies. She faced the demons of her past, the fears of the present and the unknown of the future and eventually found contentment, even in the uncertainly of where her decisions would lead.
The other realization I encountered while watching this movie is the fact that we all are on the quest for perfection. Every ideology and theology perpetuates an ascent to perfection. Not one religion ends haphazardly. No one plans an unfortunate event. Super hero stories exalt good triumphing over evil. Classic fairy tale characters live happily ever after. Why do we seem to hold this optimistic perspective? Because God has put has put eternity in our hearts. God Himself lives in perfection and we are created in His image.
God created a perfect earth in a perfect universe and placed on earth two perfect people. These two people reflected God's image of beauty, community, and perfection. All-loving, honoring, joyful, content and useful. When these image-bearers sought perfection within themselves, rather than in God Himself, their beauty faded, their light turned to darkness, they bore not the image of God, but the image of themselves. Our image apart from God is a mere outline, a faint mist of the perfection in which we were created; the perfection we were created to reflect.
It is interesting to me that every human being, fearfully and wonderfully made in his/her mother's womb, craves perfection. Why is food industry so huge? We want perfection! Why are malls filled with shoppers? We want perfection! Why do we do any manner of hobbies or recreation for enjoyment? We want perfection. I love my cup of coffee every morning--it is my friend for a variety of reasons I don't need to expound upon right now--because I want perfection. If someone brought me a weak cup of coffee in the morning, my day would be undone. My perfection would be tainted. The irony is, each of these perfect possessions or savors or moments is always tainted. Even if it's tainted in just knowing it will end.
As Elizabeth was aspiring to a "perfect" life, I thought how connected we all are in our quest for perfection. Whether Islamic, Hindu, Buddhist, Christian, Communist, Atheist, Gnostic, Pagan, Addict, Optimist or Pessamist, we are all aspiring to be a "Perfectionist." God has placed this in the hearts of men. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says, "He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end." Though we are seeking perfection in everything from a cup of coffee to clean dishes, from our job performance to our marriages, we cannot conceive perfection from God's perspective. We strive for the perfect whatever, be it a feeling, a relationship, an accomplishment, or a substance, but only God is perfect. Why do we keep seeking perfection apart from the author of perfection? Why do I prefer a good cup o' joe to fellowship with the God of the universe who dwells in beauty? Why do we seek perfection through our own strength and merit?
Perfection only exists in God. It is God, the regenerator of our hearts, indwelling us through His Spirit by Jesus Christ, who is perfect and who reflects His beauty and His image through us. The more we become like Him, the more we bear His image and He redeems His creation in and through us. Perfect thoughts, actions and words will not come until glory, but Christ in us is our perfection, here on fallen earth and in glory. Soli Deo Gloria.