Ever hear that phrase before? I used to say it all the time. The spirit or intention behind this particular phrase is that to say if something I’ve worked on isn’t exactly right and the absolute best it can possibly be, then it isn’t good enough. People might say that the little flaws and details that irritate me beyond all reason are unimportant and that the work is good enough with them the way they are: flawed.
But not for me. I stand there and say “Good enough isn’t.”
This is especially tough for any artists out there. I’m a writer, I have a book I’m trying to publish and six more projects in various stages of (not even close to) completion. My wife is a painter and sculptor and we go at each other. I ask her to read over something I’ve read and she says “It’s great, move on.” And I say “But what about this, and this wording and the imagery” (You’d be amazed at the litany of things I can find wrong with my own work).
She’ll ask me to look at a piece and I’ll say “it’s gorgeous! It’s done!” and she’ll say “What, are you blind?!” Well not quite like that but you get the idea: we both see tiny little flaws that we believe make the work unfit for public view, consumption, whatever. Now ignoring the fact that this is painfully unrealistic and would ultimately result in neither of us ever getting anything done, and finding zero fulfillment in our chosen arts, I ask myself what it is that drives me to distraction when it comes to perfecting my work.
The answer is simple. My wife and I both dedicate our art to God. But here’s the thing, we dedicate the product and not the process. So anything less than perfect suddenly fails to live up to the “first fruits” that are supposed to make up our sacrifice. If it’s not perfect then we’re giving Him our leftovers. It’s like offering to make a family at church a meal and then bringing them the leftovers from the night before. It leaves a bitter taste in my mouth that I don’t really like.
Then it occurs to me that God doesn’t ask for perfection. He asks for our best. I can’t imagine that farmers were able to grow perfect fruit and have perfect lambs to bring to sacrifice. Our body as a living sacrifice means that we are offering the process as much as the product. In fact, obedience, which is more pleasing to the Lord than any offering, is all about the process. God can tell me to sculpt something from clay and it will turn out absolutely horrible, but I would have been obedient to Him (which is still something I’m working on) and it would have been a pleasing sacrifice.
So now I need to get that thought into my spirit. That it isn’t about the final product being perfect, but being engaged with the Spirit and obedient to His promptings during the process.