Pefect/Not Perfect

HL and I are currently living in the house that was my grandmother’s, when she was alive, and which now belongs to my parents. When a house belongs to a hoarding, infirm 90 year old it ends up deteriorating into a more and more dilapidated state. We are sloooowly dragging some order back in, but I’m still acutely aware of broken things, ugly things, dirty things, inefficient things, at every turn.

I have a bit of a perfectionist streak (I have also mastered the understatement), with which I constantly battle, as it’s terribly inhibiting. When one is holding off on having friends over because the house isn’t right yet, or the garden’s a mess; or when one is scared to dollop paint onto a canvas in case it’s ‘ruined’; or when one won’t post because the words just aren’t ‘smooth’…well…there’s something wrong. Life is waiting at a ‘Give Way’ sign.

One of the first things we did when we moved in here was to start painting. EVERY wall was a faded and dirty bluey-grey that was worse than hospital colours. Colour is incredibly important to me, so to be surrounded by drabness, dreariness, dullness, was too much to live with for very long.

We started in the loungeroom and hall with yellow – rich, buttery, sunflower yellow that glows in candlelight and morning sun and lamplight. I spent hours washing and spackling and sanding and taping off and cutting in so the paint job would be as pristine as I could possibly make it.

After much time spent up a ladder painstakingly adding coat after coat of sunshine I had a bit of a dawning epiphany. No matter how many coats of lovely fresh clean, joyful paint I slapped on, what was underneath was still the same. The stains from my grandmother’s dog, the scuffs and scrapes and foul colour were all still there, they were just underneath. When people came to the house they might see the new colour and be fooled, but I would always know that they were only seeing the cover-up.

I wanted to leave a window to remind myself that perfection is not something that can be achieved, even though we, as humans, love it and are drawn to it. I taped off a rectangle of the original colour and painted up to it. Inside the rectangle I painted these two things:

“To all perfection I see a limit” Psalm 119:96a and
“As for God, his way is perfect” Psalm 18:30a

Superficial things can look bright and shiny, but that doesn’t mean that they are beautiful to the core. My house is ugly and graceless at its heart, even though it’s much more liveable and ‘pretty’ now. Similarly, it’s easy to paint over our own crap so we look like we’ve got it together, but the crap’s still there, lurking.

Gratefully, thankfully, God is deeply unsatisfied with superficial. My life was/is ugly and graceless, but those kind of renovations, the internal and eternal kind, are of the ‘complete gut, overhaul and rebuild from the foundations up’ variety.

Perfection is something that eludes me, even as I chase it. I won’t have it while I’m alive. But it is there, waiting, round the corner.

Perfect/Not perfect

Perfect/Not perfect

(Edited to add: This post has been percolating for a while, but the motivating impetus was a comment made by Rodney)


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