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Should We Be The Best or Whom God Called Us To Be?

Is there a difference?

We often battle the pervasiveness of perfectionism in today's world. Our culture constantly pushes us to strive to succeed and to be the best. It’s hard to imagine that God isn’t looking for us to be perfect when it seems like everything else implicitly teaches us that, in order to be worthy people, we must be perfect people. One of the things we have to remind ourselves of when we get caught in the cycle of perfectionism is this: God’s love is bigger. We don’t have to do things perfectly to be a good, deserving person. In fact, striving to be perfect distracts from a true relationship with God and from relationships with God’s people. Let go and trust in the process.

Even as Christian parents this very thing shows up in our parenting. We feel guilty for not having unlimited time to get everything done perfectly for our child. We fear we can’t read or teach the Bible to our child, because we don’t have an answer to every question. We worry that we aren’t praying correctly and aren’t modeling Christianity for our child in the best ways. Have you felt this guilt? Have you fallen prey to perfectionism?

Take a breath and remember the following things:

1. There is no one right way to be a teacher of faith for your child. Free yourself from the example you have in your mind about how raising your child to be a disciple of Christ should look. The first image of God a child has is based on your care of him or her. Hold your child, listen to your child, play with your child, read to your child and be present with your child. This act of being together creates a strong, loving, God-filled experience for you and for your child.

2. There is not a specific amount of time you are required to “do faith.” Instead of worrying about setting aside a special time, which is a good thing if you can manage it, be attentive to the love that surrounds your family all the time. Use your time at the kitchen table, in the car, at bath time and at bedtime for prayers and stories and fellowship. This openness and attentiveness to God’s spirit is why we engage in these spiritual practices. If you find yourself falling prey to perfectionism, you aren’t being open to God. Have some grace for yourself, and try something else.

3. You can say you don’t know. There are no right answers to the many questions and wonderings faith brings. Encourage your family to embrace the mystery of God. Saying, “I don’t know; let’s learn about it together” is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. It encourages imagination and opens your child to discovering how God is moving in the world.