I’m not perfect.
I know, I know. You’d expect something a little more motivational or super positive for the opening line of my first post. Something like “You are loved!”, or “He cares for you!” Or “you’re not alone!” And these are all very important and relevant topics that I plan on discussing. But the truth is that these weren’t the topics that led me to truly deepen my faith in the Lord. Sure, they were the foundation of my faith, but what keeps the momentum going? What leads to a deeper understanding of God, and a better relationship with God?
After moving past the first step- realising that God loves me and wants to know me personally- I would plateau time and time again in my faith. This is because I’d set extremely high expectations for myself and promise that I’d never do certain things again- that I’d always make righteous decisions. What I didn’t keep in mind is the fact that I’m still a human being. Accepting the Lord’s favour and love in my life didn’t suddenly make me perfect. I would still have to wake up the next day, and the day after that, and face the same urges and temptations as before. I’d still make a few mistakes, and I’d still sin. And sin has this terrible way of making us feel inadequate, that we don’t deserve His love. The enemy uses sin to make us feel guilty, and it causes our relationship with our Heavenly Father to crumble if we’re not careful.
So I’d beat myself up over every little thing I’d done. I’d then go from a “I’m not good enough for the Lord” attitude, to a “well I’m not perfect, and I’ve already messed up my record, so what difference does it make if I keep on doing it?” Attitude.
When you’re young, you get exposed to lots of different things, pressure and people, and will naturally feel inclined to experiment. There will be times when you’ll resist the temptation and do the right thing. However, there will be a few times when you’ll fold under pressure, give into temptation and make bad decisions. It’s a part of growing up.
What I had to learn is that my relationship with the Lord isn’t based on perfect behaviour, because if it was, it would be hopeless. There’s no human that’s impervious to sin. The relationship is based on His grace and favour, my willingness to live for Him, and the gift of salvation.
It’s taken many ups and downs in my faith to come to terms with the fact that I’m not perfect, nor will I ever be. But that’s the whole point; I wasn’t made to be perfect. I was made to serve Him with an eager heart and focus on Him despite my sinful urges and imperfections. Yes, I will make mistakes. That doesn’t mean I can just sit back and live sinfully- I must still strive to live righteously and resist evil at all costs. But I also need to acknowledge that I won’t always get it right. Because high expectations lead to guilt, and you can’t forgive yourself if you’re still beating yourself up over something. And how can you accept God’s forgiveness and continue your relationship with Him if you can’t forgive yourself first?
Remember that serving the Lord isn’t about being perfect and sinless- this is beyond us. Rather, it’s about our eagerness to serve Him, and our willingness to make the right decisions. The Lord sees your efforts and your heart when you do something that brings honour to His Name. So focus more on understanding and trusting Him, changing what you can, and the rest will fall into place.
Don’t get the wrong idea now- having a relationship with God includes living righteously and resisting the devil as much as possible, and as His children we must always work towards this and practice this. But don’t let the fear of sin rule your mind so much that once it happens, your relationship with the Lord disintegrates because you tried to suddenly become a perfect person overnight. Focus more on growing deep roots in your faith, so that if you happen to sin, your relationship with Him is strong enough for you to turn to Him and say “Lord, I have sinned. I pray for your forgiveness, and I pray that You’ll give me the strength to resist temptation.” And it doesn’t end there. We need to accept His forgiveness and repent- and repentance isn’t just feeling bad about sin, it’s about being willing to change. It means that although you aren’t perfect, you’ll do whatever it takes to truly live a righteous life. And even if there are times when we don’t quite get it right- you’ll be able to accept His forgiveness, hold your head up and try even harder to make the right decisions in future.
The Lord isn’t looking for perfect; He’s looking for someone with a heart that truly loves Him, and is willing to live for Him. So don’t let guilt and sin tear you away from God. It’s been shown many times (think of Saul and Rahab) that out of the greatest failures, the most amazing testimonies arise. So rather than to run from God because of sin and shame, let Him make a success story out of you.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”- 2 Corinthians 12:9