Dear Girl, Perfection Is Not The Goal

This is a letter written by one of my close friends, Sarah Naumann. She brings light and love into the world everyday, living a life that reflects the humility and loving nature of Jesus. Sarah is the kind of person that makes you feel seen, even in a room full of people. What you will quickly learn as you begin reading, is that Sarah is open to the trials of this life and the human fears we have because she knows that the things of this world do not define her, or anyone else. If you want to know what a kingdom builder looks like, look no further. I’m so excited that I’m debuting my series of  letters from “Dear Girl, If Only You Knew” with her letter! 

Dear Girl,

Perfection is not the goal. Ironically, I’ve written about 5 drafts of this letter, trying to string the perfect words together to get my point across. This time, it’s God’s turn to write. This letter contains some of the wonderful things He has said to a girl who frets and desires to attain nothing short of perfection. A girl who takes the bar set by man then raises it a few more notches. A girl desperate for the approval of man. A girl who has time and time again given up too soon because unfinished endeavors are far less painful than failed completions. This girl has passed on countless opportunities for fear of exposure and vulnerability. This girl is me, and perhaps it is you as well.

Let’s get one thing straight right away. The bar is far higher than we ever thought, yet more attainable than we could have dared to hope for. The God who set the standard is also the only one capable of reaching it without aid. The standard is indeed perfection. I had that right, but not much else. But why is the standard perfection? And for whose glory?

The standard is perfection because God is holy. He is faultless, pure, and blameless. He is the righteous king who sits on the throne of Heaven and Earth. Since our king’s standard is perfection, He cannot welcome anything less into His presence. To do so would be to compromise His standards. So here we have a God who requires holiness of us when He knows we cannot get there on our own. Still, He calls us to be holy because He is holy (Leviticus 11:44).

The problem presented itself early in the history of mankind. Adam and Eve were created and deemed “very good” by God Himself. For a short while, God and His beloved creation walked together in untainted friendship. But when Eve, then Adam, chose to seek out what they believed to be more they ended up with less. This act of attempting to take control drove a wedge between Creator and creation. Adam and Eve were driven from the garden to a world laden with hard work and burden.

Adam and Eve were ashamed. We know this because they tried to hide. They also recognized that they were exposed and quickly tried to cover their nakedness. The path they now walked was painful and clouded with shame.

What I think we often forget is that God’s consequential road was pain filled as well. While man was experiencing the crushing results of sin, God was all the while preparing a way for man to come back to Himself. A path that would require His own beloved Son to walk the dust and dung filled roads of Earth. It was not glamorous, but it was certainly to be the most glorious story ever told.

There is a hidden gem of a story in the old testament (2 Samuel 4) about a young man named Mephibosheth (meh-fib-o-sheth). The Lord led me to this story in a season when my body was incredibly weak, and I felt so far from perfection all I could do was sit and hope for a word. Any word to provide relief from the feelings of inadequacy I was experiencing.

Mephibosheth was the son of Jonathan, grandson of Saul, the first king of Israel. As we know, David was God’s appointed predecessor of Saul. Somehow, Jonathan still chose to befriend the young man who was destined to take the crown that he should have inherited. Jonathan was fiercely loyal to David and even defended him from his own father. David promised his beloved friend, Jonathan, to always show kindness to his family.

Years later, Jonathan was dead and David had become a very successful king. David remembered his promise to David and asked his servants if anyone in the house of Jonathan still lived. A servant reported that Jonathan had a son who was a crippled (the result of a fall as his household fled David’s new reign) and lived in a barren land. How far Mephibosheth had fallen from the inheritance he was meant to acquire.

We have all fallen far from the holy fellowship we were meant to share with God, haven’t we? Like Adam, Eve, and Mephibosheth, we were meant for gardens and friendship with God, yet we fell and found ourselves on the outside of the kingdom.

As the story goes, Mephibosheth arrives and immediately plants his face in the ground, calling himself a servant, and even dead dog. The first and final reference of Mephibosheth both point out his disability (vv 3, 13). However, David is never the one to acknowledge this detail. Instead, he calls Mephibosheth a son and invites him to join him at his banquet table. And just to be certain this act was not for just for appearances, David extends the invitation for the rest of Mephibosheth’s days.  

Charles Swindoll paints a picture in The Grace Awakening of what that banquet must have looked like in this way:

“The dinner bell rings through the king’s palace and David comes to the head of the table and sits down. In a few moments, Amnon- clever, crafty Amnon- sits to the left of David. Lovely and gracious Tamar, a charming and beautiful young woman, arrives and sits beside Amnon. And then across the way, Solomon walks slowly from his study; precocious, brilliant, and preoccupied Solomon…That particular evening Joab, the courageous warrior and David’s commander of the troops, has been invited to dinner…Afterward, they wait. They hear the shuffling of feet, the clump, clump, clump of the crutches as Mephibosheth rather awkwardly finds his place at the table and slips into his seat…and the table covers his feet. I ask you: did Mephibosheth understand grace?”

Max Lucado carries on about the story in his book, In the Grip of Grace:

“Do you see our story in his? Children of royalty, crippled by the fall, permanently marred by sin…driven not by our beauty but by his promise, he calls us to himself and invites us to take a permanent place at his table.”

What left me breathless was the permanent invitation. This young man would be crippled until the day he died. A lasting result of fleeing the kingdom. If only he had known that he was never meant to leave in the first place. He was always welcome. I imagine how the sight of Mephibosheth’s face must have brought such joy to David every day, as he looked into the eyes of this adopted son and saw his best friend, Jonathan. David remembered his promise. And now, as our father looks into our faces, his adopted own, he sees the righteousness of Christ who covered our transgressions with his own blood. He keeps His promise to us.

Perfection is not the goal. If it were, we would never make it into the throne room of grace on our own. Taking hold of the Christ’s extended, nail-pierced hand is our direct pathway into the throne room. Will we come crippled? Absolutely. Should we be ashamed of our condition? Not any more, because God is in the business of restoring our identities. Yes, until the day we enter His heavenly kingdom and become completely sanctified, we will be crippled with sin. Praise God, we are still invited to the table.

As crippled as I am, I am adored by Him. As often as I chase after the glamor of self-attained perfection, He still desires for me to experience His glory instead. I can approach the table with confidence because I have accepted the personal invitation extended to me (Romans 10:9). He does not see me as the flawed, failed, or disappointing one. He sees me as a daughter in the light of his glorious son, Jesus.

So, dear girl. Will you come to the table? Will you stop spinning your wheels in the mud, getting nowhere? I know how terribly exhausting it is. Stop holding yourself back from opportunities that your Father is so eager to present you with. He isn’t clueless, He knows you’re not perfect (Romans 5:8). If He is not disappointed in you, then why should you be? Let’s stop chasing after standards that aren’t meant to exist. We are called to work with all our hearts as we are working for the Lord, not for man (Colossians 3:23). He does not say “work perfectly.” He says work with all our hearts…for the Lord Himself! Listen to what else the Lord says to us:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

He does not say put on a stunning performance of excellence and perfection. He does not say pull yourself together before coming to me. Christ’s opening statement is “come to me, all you who are weary and burdened.”

Simply choosing to come is so very humbling, and often too good to believe. Our pride or disbelief may keep us from coming. But it is true, and you really can just come! This gift of acceptance is meant for you! Drop those standards you or someone else has created for you and allow Him to take you into His loving arms. I promise they’re more secure, and more satisfying, than any security net you have woven for yourself.

“Faith is occupied with the object upon which it rests and pays no attention to itself at all. While we are looking at God we do not see ourselves — blessed riddance. The man who has struggled to purify himself and has had nothing but repeated failures will experience real relief when he stops tinkering with his soul and looks away to the perfect One. While he looks at Christ the very things he has so long been trying to do will be getting done within him. It will be God working in him to will and to do.” A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God

What would happen if we stopped trying to take hold of perfection and allowed the perfect One to take hold of us? His arms are strong and capable.

You heard Tozer! Let’s stop tinkering with our souls and look to the perfect One! Jesus is the “founder and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2) Perfection has its place- in the hands of God. When we allow Him to do His perfect work in us, we will find the wholeness we have been craving.

This is a truth worth fighting to believe. We must choose to turn our gaze to Him again and again. The temptation to control your image will return day in day out. But remember, you have an invitation to the royal dinner table that will never expire. A table where flaws are pardoned and the forgotten are adopted. Accept His invitation and trust Him to do the good work in you that He has promised to complete (Philippians 1:6).


A Daughter of the King

In the spirit of casting aside my desire to put forth a controlled, perfect image, I give you “confused, popcorn in the mouth Sarah.” I am with my sweet and silly friends in The Netherlands here, about to watch Mamma Mia 2, which I then went home to spend weeks imperfectly belting out the soundtrack of in the safe, non-judgement privacy of my apartment.

– Sarah Naumann

Photo credit: Marline Roger | Sarah is the second one from the left!IMG_6019


  1. Excellent truths to meditate upon for any person – male or female.

    Now for a bit of jocularity:
    1) The word is “successor” 😉
    2) Tozer makes an appearance – would’ve been disappointing if he did not.
    3) I thought it was a sneer which would’ve been uncharacteristic until I looked at the caption above

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