My five-year old has become quite the fashionista in her short life. On a daily basis, I find myself smiling at the outfit she has put together, combining patterns, colors and clothing types in ways I never would have imagined. (Who knew a pink ballet tutu could pair so perfectly with tribal print leggings?) I shouldn’t have been surprised when she chose a pair of glittery tennis shoes at the start of the school year.
She only had the shoes for a few weeks when I noticed the toe was getting scuffed up, leaving a trail of glitter and beginning to look worn. Frustration set in. “Those shoes are only for school and church, okay?” I told her. “Yes, Mom” she said. I could hear the disappointment in her voice. She loves those glittery shoes and now wants to wear them everywhere.
In the book of Matthew, Jesus tells a story. He said, “It (the kingdom of heaven) is also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.”
The servants who received $5000 and $2000 doubled their master’s money. But what of the third servant?
“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’
“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest. ‘Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’ (Matthew 25:14-30 MSG, emphasis mine.)
I admit that I have been a “play-it-safe” mom, so afraid of imperfection that I wouldn’t even begin. Can’t mother my children with love and grace 24-7? Then why even attempt it in the first place? Can’t get the house clean top to bottom? Then what’s the point of even starting? Can’t get out of debt in just a few years like so many I read about online? Why bother?
But Jesus was clear about this: Faithfulness is a core value in the Kingdom. God hasn’t called me to the perfect Mom, but he has called me to faithfully steward my relationship with my kids. God hasn’t called me to be the perfect Wife, but he has called me to faithfully steward my relationship with my husband. If I am carrying the mantle of perfectionism, it wasn’t placed there by my good Father. It’s a burdensome yoke I’ve taken on myself. And it’s high time to lay that weight aside.
“Let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
I could tell my daughter that she can only wear those glittered shoes to “safe” places where they won’t be scuffed up or muddied, but that’s not what shoes are made for – their purpose is to be worn. Those shoes were made for running.
I can try to keep myself “safe” from failure or imperfection, but that’s not what I was made for, either. I was made for service and faithfulness, for growing in love and grace with those around me (including my children!), in vulnerable, authentic, and yes, imperfect community. Thankfully, God never required perfection of me, only faithfulness. As it turns out, I was made for running, too.
About the Author: April Chonlahan is wife to her favorite guy and stay-at-home Mama to two little girls, a woman who loves a cup of hot tea and a square of dark chocolate anytime of the day. She has a quest to find glimpses of glory between the piles of laundry and the stacks of homeschool lessons.