The Perfect Pair of Jeans

The Perfect Pair of Jeans

Grab a cup of coffee, find a comfy chair, and let’s chat. 

Made for More than Perfection

per·fect DEFINED (Oxford Dictionary via Google Search)

When I was a kid – a time when dinosaurs roamed the earth – dark colored jeans were the only thing accepted and desired. They were the ‘perfect’ pair of jeans.  As the color faded, or the fabric was worn, it was time to cut them up or disposed of them. The only place those nasty things belonged were in the rag bag. Completely useless. Their obvious flaws made them unworthy of wear. Perfection was the gold standard of worth.

I came across one of my journals from years ago, and took a peek at some of my entries. The more I read, the more I became aware that knowing, and accepting who I am in Christ, has been a tough and unaddressed struggle for me. Knowing my value seemed to be a tough topic that demanded some search for truth. Scary stuff, right there – because truth can be hard.  If I really wanted to know the truth – and I did – I had to take a good strong look at who I was, and how I assessed my worth.

I wanted to believe I had value, and to live confident in that belief. My worth had been a raw, and very real battle in my life. For a good part of my Christian life, I secretly questioned my value to God. There was a need to be seen as perfect and without need, sin, or flaw – and a great expectation to be approved of 100 percent of the time, to gain approval from others, and from God.  That was tough to see, and to admit.

I was never a fan of perfection.  A ‘perfect’ personality smacks of pretense and truth. I used to say I hate perfect people… because they don’t exist.  If that’s true, what did a ‘need to be perfect’ mindset mean about me?  Did I really believe I was perfect? Ha! Not hardly!! I could easily see my faults in my past, as well as I see them today.  In my mind, the pretense of perfection allowed me to believe I was at least acceptable on some level.  Guacamole – that’s a mushed up mess. I have heard from others that I am not alone in that struggle.

No, I was never perfect –  though I confess I thought it might be better than the mess in the mirror. So what was the deal? I guess I was afraid what my imperfection meant about me. Would I be seen as a worthless pair of jeans? Full of flaws, lacking in value and ready for the rag bag.

The need to be seen as perfect is really a backwards way of saying, “If you really knew me, with all my faults and flaws, you would find no value in loving me”.  To live an ‘I am perfect, and I will prove it’ mode, ultimately makes others responsible for my worth through their approval. Scheesch!  Exhausting work for everyone.

The search for evidence of value is a lonely way to live, that brings no satisfaction or proof of worth. When my value depended solely on human opinion, the work of finding proof, started new every single day.  Value was never found. The search was never over.

Kids….That is one ginormous nugget chew on, and swallow without choking!

I love going to outlet stores where the seasonal left-over clothes are sold! When I first started perusing those outlets, it didn’t take much time to understand that I had to scour every inch of a perspective pair of jeans for any sign of defect – obvious indicators of diminished value.  Ya just have to look for the little stickers that say, ‘imperfection’ or ‘flaw’ to be sure you have found that perfect pair of jeans.

Quite a few years ago, I noticed many very expensive name-brand jeans were  purposely acid washed, bleached, faded, scraped, and repeatedly torn to create an imperfect pair of jeans. Yes, I said on purpose! To me, they looked trash-worthy, and yet they carried a price tag that reflected great value – even at the outlet mall. There wasn’t one pair of dark colored mom jeans to be found – only rags.

Faster than I could say, “That ain’t for me”,  imperfection and flaws became acceptable, and desired by all:  longed for, and embraced as perfect! (enter angel choir singing the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’) The world was ready to embrace (and love) a worn out pair of jeans. Flaws and all. 

No more need to hide the flaws? No stickers were needed? No ‘deficient’ labels displayed?  Very suddenly, perfection and value was found in the need for repair.  Overnight, perfection was redefined.

Girlfriend, we need to sit up and take notice of the terrific truth in this little story.  Perspective is everything in seeking truth. And I found truth in God’s perspective.

2 Corinthians 12:9 
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. (NIV)

As many times as I have read this passage, I missed the impact of its simple truth. Paul is talking about his struggle with secret issues in his life, and asks God to take them away. God takes the opportunity to make two points about Paul’s need, and what that means to God. 1) God’s grace is sufficient in his need. 2) Christ’s power is perfected IN Paul’s weaknesses. Whew!!

LET    THAT    SOAK    IN.

Are you kidding?  Come on y’all.  Who doesn’t want and need THAT truth!  If Jesus power is found in weakness, call me weak!   If I know perfection is found in God’s power and grace through my weaknesses… I embrace my weakness!  I want to be like Paul!!!  I delight in my need!!

Well, let’s be real.  It’s easier said than done. I began to ask myself, what horrible thing would happen if I admitted my need? What would it mean if people could see all my flaws?  And who am I kidding… people saw – and still see my flaws.  If need to change is weakness, and flaws reflect lack of worth, where in the world did that leave me?

God doesn’t want my perfection, and He doesn’t want yours.  He isn’t even interested in it! He just wants us to be honest and real about who we are. He wants to meet our need, so His power and grace will rest on us, and in us.  Even though I was a Christian for 40-some years, there was something essential missing in my understanding of who Christ is, and what He is in me… to me…through me…for me…and with me. And it lies in the true meaning of perfection.

Contrary to its very definition – perfection IS need.

Just like the perfect pair of jeans at the outlet center, a great price was paid for this raggedy, hole-filled, broken, ripped and torn up old girl.  The price was a lamb.  The lamb crucified for me.  His blood was enough to pay the price for my sin, my weaknesses, my flaws – all of who I am. I have nothing to prove because – guess what! There is nothing I can do to convince Him I am enough. And there is nothing I can do to prove I am not enough.  The power created in His sacrifice, defines me, as enough. My need of Him, defines my worth. It is absolutely perfect.

I was chatting with a friend and expressing all that God is doing in me; remembering who I once was, who I am now, and who He is in me. I giggled and said, “Man, I need God! I need Him every day, all day long because am a complete train wreck without him!”  She seemed almost shocked at my raw admission and said, “oh honey, you shouldn’t talk about yourself that way.”  I beg to differ. I will talk about myself that way with every breath.

If I deny my need of Him, I step away from all He has for me, and of me.  Delight in my weakness, allows me to express my need of God. That confession becomes a point of surrender, and is where my Christian walk begins, is sustained and grows – the foundation of intimacy with God.

I have no problem admitting I am just like a tattered, full of holes, acid washed, bleached and faded, perfect pair jeans. I have been through the wash and spin cycle more times than I like to admit.  And I proudly wear a label that indicates flaw and imperfection. I can say that,  only because I am held together by the power that comes in my weaknesses. I need HIM.  I need His love and His grace. I need Christ’s power to be present in my life. I never, ever  want to be in a place where my need to be seen as flawless, trumps my need of Him.

I hear from people every day, that they struggle to findf deep, intimate relationship with God: where grace is abundant,  honesty is safe, and forgiveness flows.  Being honest about our need is where true intimacy with God begins. Honesty is safe, grace is abundant and forgiveness is the price that was paid for that ‘perfect’ pair of jeans.

Oxford got it wrong.  

per·fect REDEFINED (God via 2 Cor. 12:9)
1.  the condition, state, or quality of being free from all flaws or defects, weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, and in difficulties, through Christ’s power and grace that rests on me when I delight in my need.   

Remember that you are a perfect pair of jeans – not defined by flaws and imperfection, but redefined by delight in your need. Until our next cup of coffee…

Be Redefined,

Lori Beth

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