Pursuit of Peace: How Not to Let Perfectionism Get the Best of You

Pursuit of Peace: How Not to Let Perfectionism Get the Best of You

From my vantage point, life blurs in the holiday hustle. Cards on the table wait to be sent, a pile of boots in the entry, a revolving door of laundry, dishes in sink after baking. I’ve set my mind to get on with the next thing on my holiday to-do list.

I see it here, how the clutter can be the outward manifestation of the inward clutter of the heart. A tangle of thoughts loop through my mind like a string of lights needing untangling. And that timeless song loops through the mp3 player: Peace on Earth, good will toward men.

In my rush to get on with baking cookies for the annual party, I knock the bag of sugar on the floor as I reach for something else. The holiday season can be like this, when we get swept up in the frenetic race of perceived needs and engagements.

For some of us, it’s all we can do to survive the daily struggle of gleaning sustenance from the toil onto the table. Our bellies growl with the aching-empty. You can hear how the world groans to be filled.

The other day as I went about errands, I saw a man sitting by the sidewalk with his packs barricaded behind him as shelter—ready to hunker down for another cold night—in his hand a cardboard sign: Homeless and hungry. Please help.

My eyes had locked in a gaze at this man who was simply one step away from where I was. But aren’t we all just one step away? One long stride across the sidewalk. One job away. One missed pay check away. That any one of us could also find ourselves on the other side?

My hand had reached over to my bag as I mentally recalled what was inside my pocketbook, but a few pennies of my own would not feed this man’s deepest need. Peace on Earth, good will toward men.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. JOHN 14:27 NIV

I recalled the shepherds waiting in the field one holy night. Their sheep resting in peaceful pasture, sleeping safely in the presence of their keeper. I thought about peace—what does the song say? How it came upon a midnight clear, in the darkest part of the night.

What were these shepherds waiting for? I’ll bet they didn’t even know it yet themselves, hunkered down for another cold night, their packs behind them as a place to rest their heads.

I rushed off to the next preparation as if I was expecting royalty—and wasn’t I? I recalled who rushed in that holy night of anticipation, looking for shelter. A young mother rode into a little town called Bethlehem—nine-months pregnant and crowning—riding on a donkey. Imagine that, mamas.

Could she have known the whole world was swelling with anticipation too? They would one day crown her baby the King of all Kings.

I recalled how the wise men would come bearing gifts. He was coming, that baby born in a cattle stall, while mom and dad would hunker down for a cold night in Bethlehem, and holy mother would bear down to labor the greatest gift man’s ever known. Peace on Earth. Good will toward men.

I pause in my pursuit of perfection—as the whole world paused one holy night to welcome the Prince of Peace. In the midst of the imperfect, perfect peace was born. The peace we pursue is not found in our performance but in the posture of a gentle, quiet spirit.

Rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. PHILIPPIANS 2:7-8 MSG

We’re all just one step away from the holy, because Peace stepped toward us when God came near.

Peace came in the middle of the night, in the humblest of circumstances, to pursue the heart of mankind. Peace pursues you. In the midst of your chaos, in the middle of your mess, in spite of your imperfections, peace comes in quietly to still the storm.

What are you dealing with right now that feels like it’s keeping you from receiving peace? Did you know that Christ Jesus was born to bring peace into your life and good well toward you?

Jesus’ life and death made the way to close the gap between God and mankind. It was the greatest gift ever given and he offers it to you now, today. I am praying that this holiday season, you would receive the gift of peace, the gift of God’s own Son, Jesus.

For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” JOHN 3:16 NLT
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(The post has been updated and was originally posted in December 2016.)

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