Modern Western culture celebrates the winner in dramatic fashion. Our modern media is in constant search for the next "natural"-the next Tiger Woods or Steven Spielberg. Marketing professionals know how a story about "the best" generates curiosity, and they work to supply a steady stream of these profiles.

Sitting on my desk is a CD by the violinist Hilary Hahn. In the corner of the cover is a sticker that reads, "America's Best Young Classical Musician - Time Magazine."  That sort of praise piques the interests of the most casual classical music fan. Attendance and television ratings for the NBA reached its highest point during Michael Jordan's final season with the Chicago Bulls. I believe that a great many of these viewers weren't avid basketball fans, but rather curious people who wanted to see the man they had been told was "the greatest player to ever play the game."

In a culture that praises winning and success as the highest of accomplishments, we all feel the pressure of perfection. It follows us to dinner parties, in conversations with our parents, and into our dating relationships. It's so very easy to begin to base your self-value on your personal and professional success.

Without a doubt, the key to contented living and satisfying relationships is the recognition that perfection of self is never a criterion for worth and value. And so, if you have some imperfections, you let them become apparent-and then you go about the task of growing your way through them.

I have watched hundreds of persons in my office deal with this time-honored principle. When they think that their value is directly related to their perfection, they engage in an endless process of defending and hiding. 

But when they finally get in touch with the simple gospel truth that who they are is supremely lovable, that they can never be more or less lovable than they are right now, then they can begin the task of discovering themselves at the deepest levels and growing to the highest peaks. It all begins with knowing how wonderfully loved they are, how free they are from the need for perfection.

In any relationship between marital partners or friends, family members or co-workers, the person who gains a clear perspective on herself or himself is always viewed as the healthiest, the most attractive, and the one everyone wants to be around.

Why is this so? Simply because these people create an atmosphere of honesty. Because they can admit where they have deficiencies and areas that need to be developed, they make it possible for others to deal openly with their own set of issues and problems. They take all the need to compare away. They remove the frustration and threat of being in relationship with them, because they do not hold themselves up to be perfect.

Is anyone perfect? No, at least not anyone I know on this earth. God is perfect!  And you don't need to be God-not in your own appraisal of yourself or in relation to anybody. You can simply be you.

If you are simply you, there will always be parts of you that fall short of some idealized goal. As you are able to recognize these parts, you will have a chance to modify them and grow in relation to them. And you will set other people free to do the same kind of growing in their own needed ways.

"See Yourself For Who You Are, And All Your Relationships Will Be A Thousand Times Easier" (Galatians 6:5)

 

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