Faithful, Not Perfect
Jessica Ptomey contemplates the call to faithfulness in daily life.Much of my writing stems from an internal call I’ve been hearing the Holy Spirit speak to my own heart. Lately, His still small voice has been reminding me what it is that I’m actually called to in daily life, and that is faithfulness. When I hear that reminder, it feels like a soothing balm to a soul that can quickly become infected with an external pressure toward perfectionism. By perfection, I’m not talking about the biblical call of Christ to “be perfect … as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48); because we know by that our Lord means for us to surrender our weakness to the power of His strength and grace, which will be made perfect in us (2 Corinthians 12:9).
I’m talking about a mindset that measures success — in all areas of life — by whether or not my responsibilities have been done exactly according to an objective standard and process of human perfection. Self is savior where the perfectionist mindset takes root. Such a mindset is the antithesis to which the Father calls His children, for it moves us away from relying on His will and His gift of grace by which we are able to accomplish our work.
A heart aimed at the goal of faithfulness, rather than perfection, is daily in tune with the voice of the Father. Our God is never saying to us, “Perform, impress, excel, earn my love.” Instead, His call is to “rest, obey, listen, love, surrender, give, receive.” We serve a faithful God who calls us to a life of daily faithfulness. I emphasize “daily” because I believe that God is only ever asking us to live one moment at a time.
In fact, faithfulness has everything to do with the present moment, not all of the possibilities coming down the line. We see this truth echoed again and again in the lives of the saints. These faithful men and women kept their eyes on Jesus in the present moment. Certainly, they brought Him into plans for the future; but they didn’t live consumed with what was coming next. They lived day by day, knowing well that they were not promised tomorrow and that today contained enough with which to occupy oneself (Matthew 6:34).
If we are to be faithful stewards to our Lord, and experience His peace in that endeavor, then we must walk ourselves back to living more in the present moment. I think that when we do this, we are much more inclined toward His plan, rather than our own. We are able to let go of all expectations that we place upon our own shoulders. We simply ask, “What have you given me to do today, or in this moment, Lord?” He will reveal it. We may need to apply the process of discernment and quiet listening to His direction. Living moment-by-moment with our faithful God, we become more faithful. As we are being transformed, we more readily recognizing the contrast between a faithful life and one imprisoned in the confines of perfectionism:
- Perfectionism tries to control; faithfulness surrenders.
- Perfectionism piles on unrealistic tasks; faithfulness asks God what He means us to carry.
- Being bound by perfection, we always feel like our efforts fall short; drawn by a faithful God, we give simply what we have to give.
- The perfectionist holds tightly to the desired end result; the faithful servant puts the result into God’s hands.
God is only asking us to be faithful with the specific task He means for us to do in the present moment. We will realize peace and contentment when we surrender to that act for love of Him and place the result in His hands. We are only asked to be faithful with what we have to give; our faithful God is in charge of the rest. We will certainly have days where we fail, when we listen to the wrong voice and fall prey to the desire to control. Thankfully, our God’s faithfulness is steadfast (as we are told repeatedly throughout the Psalms), and He never fails us. His mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-23).
We are called to faithfulness, not perfection. Let us walk in that calling; and may that truth pull a burden off our shoulders and put a peace-filled smile on our faces.
Copyright 2020 Jessica Ptomey
This article was originally published at CatholicMom.com and is shared here with permission.
About Jessica Ptomey
Jessica Ptomey is a Catholic convert, wife, mom, writer, communications scholar and professor, and homeschooler. She blogs at JessicaPtomey.com. She is the author of Home in the Church: Living an Embodied Catholic Faith, and her research in inter-faith dialogue has been published in the Journal of Communication and Religion (JCR). She is also the co-host, with her husband Mike, of The Catholic Reading Challenge podcast.