No, this post is not about Adam, Eve or anything that happens in the Garden of Eden, though the temptation to place self-interest before all else is never too far removed from any human experience.
The subject of this post is a literal fall, one that occurred yesterday during worship. Soon after I arrived at church yesterday morning, I began experiencing instability in the orthotic device on which I am completely dependent to walk. Deciding that I would rather be safe than sorry, I brought the cane that I keep in the trunk of my car into the worship service, but unfortunately, the cane wasn’t enough.
In the middle of the sermon, the brace unlocked, and I tumbled to the floor. Fortunately, I wasn’t injured (except for my pride perhaps). Following the initial impact, I crawled to a nearby chair and finished the service from there.
Seconds before the fall, I declared, “Perfectionism is not a model for ministry and mission that would recommend to any congregation.” Obviously, yesterday’s service did not go perfectly, which is to say, according to script, but God’s grace was there to catch me when I fell (as God’s grace always has and always will).
This embarrassing episode has me thinking about perfectionism and why it is so injurious to the body of Christ. In addition to attempting to squeeze grace out of the spiritual equation, perfectionism is both frustrating and impractical. Perfectionism frustrates, because it’s impractical.
Who among us doesn’t fail or fall from time to time? Why would we ever assume that our standards are the only standards by which God’s children, including ourselves, should be judged?
When we strive for perfectionism, we set ourselves up for a fall, and when our perfectionism is too stringent, we run the risk of beating ourselves up and/or judging our neighbors.
God doesn’t want us to beat ourselves up or to judge our neighbors. God wants us to ask for help when we need it and to offer it when we can.
Today, I am glad and grateful for all of the help that I have received in my life, especially the help that I received this morning when the brace was repaired.