Leaving Perfect Behind
Last weekend I was on my way to the beach, two hours from home, when my sister announces she has left her swimsuits at home.
My brother-in-law tells her to buy new ones when we arrive at the resort.
My sister says these are not just any swimsuits. It took her weeks to find them and they were perfect. She says it will be impossible to find a new swimsuit.
I tell her not to worry, I have three in my suitcase and offer to loan her one of mine.
She is exasperated. “No offense, but honestly I don’t want to wear any of your swimsuits. I want to look cute.”
My sister is beside herself, wondering how she could have forgotten to pack swimsuits for a beach weekend.
My brother-in-law offers to drop us off at the resort and drive back home for the swimsuits.
I wonder about leaving perfect behind. Because I’ve done it. I’ve left behind what I thought was perfect. More times than I thought was possible. And I wondered if anything could ever take the place of perfect.
I once had the perfect job. I coordinated education courses across the country and got to travel too. I enjoyed my coworkers and loved the work. I thought this was the perfect job for me. Until my boss left the company, my department was dismantled and I was unemployed.
I felt afraid that I couldn't pay my bills and unsure I’d ever find another job I liked as much.
I once had the perfect friendship. When I was a newcomer to Florida, I met an exuberant girl who welcomed me to her circle of friends. She was a kindred spirit and we planned to share an apartment. I thought this was the perfect friend for me. Until she found a job and a boyfriend in Tennessee.
I felt alone and lonely and wondered if I’d ever find another good friend.
I once met the perfect date. We had so much in common. Our life goals and direction were perfectly in sync. I thought this was the perfect man for me. Until uncertainty set in. And perfect went in a different direction.
I felt disappointed and wondered what God was doing in my life.
I once lived in the perfect house. After my sister got married and left the condo we shared, I worked with a builder on a new house in the historic district of a charming town. I loved its hardwood floors and arched doorways. I chose the paint colors, counters and the flowers that lined my front walk. I thought this was the perfect house for me.
Until the housing market crashed and my neighborhood’s home prices dropped fast and furious. Acting on the wise advice of my brother-in-law, I reluctantly sold my house and moved to the other side of town.
I felt unsettled and wondered if I’d ever have a place to put my feet up and feel at home again.
But I discovered something surprising.
Every time I left perfect behind, I found something far better. Beyond compare. Unequaled.
I discovered God’s perfect gifts for me.
Instead of the perfect job, I found perfect strength and confidence I didn't know I had.
It was a grueling season but I eventually found another job that offered me better opportunities to write, learn new skills and take me in directions I never dreamed.
“For my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Cor. 2:9
Instead of the perfect friend, I found perfect grace and peace.
Eventually I formed new friendships. Some of these connections offered me amazing opportunities to volunteer professionally and personally, moving my career forward and providing me with mentors and sisters in ways I couldn't imagine.
“You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” Is. 26:3
Instead of fearing I’d lost the perfect date, I found the perfect love of one who created me and loves me unconditionally.
It was a time that stretched my faith and allowed me to see that when I don't know where to look, when circumstances around me get the best of me, I will fix my eyes on God alone.
“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us . . . for perfect love drives out fear.” I Jn. 4:16, 18
Instead of leaving behind the perfect house, I found the perfect shelter and refuge.
God knew better than I did where I should live for this season of my life to watch my niece and nephew grow up.
“As for God, his way is perfect: the Lord’s word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.” Ps. 18:30
The closer my heart gets to God, I realize that perfection is only found in him, not in my circumstances, friendships or relationships. Instead of feeling like I've left perfect behind, I'm filled with hope and anticipation and excitement. Because from broken and flawed, incomplete and imperfect come rich truths and promises that are beyond comparison.
Finally the swimsuit debacle is resolved. My brother-in-law asks his mother to get the swimsuits from their house and overnight them to the resort.
The perfect swimsuits arrive by 10:30 the next morning.
I think another perfect day is just waiting to unfold.