Seeking Perfection, Finding Jesus

Life isn't perfect.

We know that. We live every day in the imperfection. yet sometimes we still think that somewhere, somehow, life can be perfect. If we only had that job, boyfriend, or trip. If we only felt rested, beautiful, or successful. If only.

I hate to break it to you, but there is no perfection in "if onlys."

As many of you know, I spent the Fall 2017 semester in Disney World as an intern. It was wonderful, but not perfect. I cried a lot. I spent too much money. I struggled with making friends.

However, upon returning home, I began to idealize my experience there. I began to think that everything was better in Disney World. Discontentment began to fester in my heart as I faced imperfections in life. When I went through boring classes or rough patches in community, I remembered the excitement and friendship of my time in Disney and idealized it.

"If only I was back in Disney." And although I didn't think it in so many words, I began to think that things would be perfect in Disney.

How did I realize that I was idealizing Disney?

I went to Disney.

My mom and I took a spontaneous trip to Disney this holiday season. It was wonderful, but it wasn't perfect. I realized that my idealized version of Disney didn't exist. It was not the answer to my if only feelings.

Maybe you're idealizing something, too. Perhaps it's a community that you miss. Perhaps it's rest. Perhaps it's traveling. Perhaps it's the elusive illusion of an Instagram worthy life.

Regardless of where you look for perfection, let me challenge you with this: don't look in imperfect places for perfection that can only be found in Jesus.

Whatever you think about when you think if only, let me tell you, it won't satisfy. Those grades, that relationship, that conference, that career move, or that number on a scale will only leave you thinking what now. 

This is where Jesus becomes clearer. Jesus shines brighter. Jesus remains the only perfection we can turn to.

Let's face it; our hearts long for perfection. Why else would we be dissatisfied with anything else? Why else would we feel the need to add a filter to our life to give the illusion of perfection? We seek something beautifully perfect.

However, we can't find perfection here on earth (even in Disney World). We cannot create perfection through our Instagram feeds. This lack of perfection can either leave us distraught or it can turn our gaze to Jesus, who is perfection. Jesus came to earth to show us the perfection of God even in our imperfection. He came to fulfill our desire for perfection by becoming perfection for us.

People will tell you to find beauty in the imperfection, and that is good. There is beauty in imperfection, authenticity, and honesty in the mess. However, the perfection of Christ is far more beautiful than our imperfections. The radiance of God's perfection outshines Disney, boys, rest, and success.

I have found myself thinking more of heaven lately. There, things will be perfect. There, God will be clearer to us. There, nothing will distract from the perfection of Christ. There, we will no longer think "if only." We will be too full of the perfection of God.

Heaven is the one thing that we can idealize, because it will far outshine our greatest ideas and hopes. Heaven will not disappoint us. Everything else will fall short of glory, but heaven is a firm hope that will not fail. It is a hope that can carry us through the boring classes and rough patches. It is a hope that keeps us fully engaged in the battle of the present while still looking forward to the rest beyond.

And so, I will keep my eyes on Jesus. When I am tempted to put my hope and ideals in something else, I will remember that it will not satisfy me. It can not hold that kind of weight. But Jesus can.

Let us keep two eyes on Jesus. He is perfect.

Princess Hannah


Holding Onto Today

2018, what a year!

I'm not sure what 2018 held for you. Maybe you experienced new adventures. Perhaps you were met with unforeseen sorrows. 2018 could be leaving you with a hopeful expectation for 2019 or an uphill battle.

During the transition into  new year, this season of reflection and resolution, I have one reminder for you: Don't forget about today.

Don't get so caught up figuring out yesterday and planning out tomorrow that you let today pass you by.

Jesus, when instructing us how to pray, guided us neither into a prayer to provide understanding for the past nor a request for comfort in the future. Instead, he reminded us to depend daily upon the mercies of God.

"Give us today our daily bread." (Matthew 6:11)

This reminds me of how the Israelites gathered manna from God in the wilderness. God required that they not store up manna from yesterday nor gather extra for tomorrow. They were required only to gather enough for today. 

Just so, we can't keep holding onto yesterday or revolve every action upon tomorrow. Rather, we are called to live faithfully today, in expectant dependence upon God.

This is not to say that we shouldn't reflect and learn from yesterday. I think that reflection is valuable and necessary part of life. But in our reflections, we must not let yesterday dictate today. We can be tempted to identify "seasons" of our lives and make excuses for today because "that's just the season of life we're in right now."

Of course I'm worried, but I'm just in a season of transition. 

I'll tithe later, because I'm in a season of financial instability. 

I'm not sure about this God-thing because I'm in a dry season. 

Pish posh. God is the maker of the seasons of weather, how would He not also be in control of the seasons of our lives? We mustn't be too hasty to discard something because it doesn't fit in our "season." We also must be careful that we don't lay out self-fulfilling prophesy when we attempt to label too clearly what "season" we're in.

Instead of relying on the past to interpret our present, we should rely on Jesus to fulfill our todays. We need to stop hanging onto yesterday and grab hold of the mission of the Gospel with two hands. And we'd better do that today. 

"Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3:13-14)

Sometimes, though, we are more concerned with the future than the present. I'm guilty of this one. For me, today seems like a stepping stone for tomorrow, rather than the stage on which the true action occurs. My mind is always planning the next step, the next trip, or the next list. It can get overwhelming, if I'm honest.

However, God leads us in a different way. Instead of gathering manna for tomorrow and today, He instructs us to live in His abundance today and trust Him to provide again tomorrow. Plans, when hoarded and clung to in our hearts, turn out much like the hoarded manna in the Old Testament, filled with worms and rotten smells.

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." (Matthew 6:33-34)

This isn't to say that we shouldn't make plans. They are useful and a key to making the most of each day. Even God commanded the Israelites to plan by gathering twice the amount of manna in preparation for the Sabbath. Our plans, though, should not be the reason that today is meaningful. That's Jesus' job.

And so here we are, in today, in the moment where Jesus shows up and leads the way. Let us trust Jesus with every day of 2019. Let us come to Him expectantly 365 times, not clinging to the past or leaning on the future but pressing on toward the goal, which is the glory of Christ.

"The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness." (Lamentations 3:22-23)

Happy New Year, and Happy New Day!

Princess Hannah