“What’s wrong?” I asked.
Youngest sighed, set the box of cones on the counter. “It’s just that the picture of the ice cream cones on this box has the perfect ice cream scoop. And I have been trying and trying every time I get an ice cream cone to make the scoop this perfect, and I never ever ever can make a perfect scoop.”
I set the ice cream down.
“You know,” I said. “The people who made that box for the cones hired a photographer to take that picture. And the photographer hired a whole team to make the food look just right. First of all there is someone who’s whole job it is to make ice cream cone look just exactly perfect. They have tricks like spraying food with a shiny plastic coat to make it look better and they spend hours arranging the food to be just right. And then, there’s the lighting part of the team. They set up special lights that get really hot, which melts real food. Your daddy worked with a team like that once, and they used fake plastic butter on the potatoes because real butter would have melted.”
Youngest looked thoughtful. “Do you think maybe this isn’t even real ice cream here on the box?”
I looked the photo over for a moment. “Well, it looks real…but you know, ice cream melts even faster than butter!” She mulled that over for a moment, and I picked up the ice cream again…expecting her to be relieved to have this new information. Instead, tears welled up.
“But then, that means I am never going to have the perfect ice cream cone,” she cried. “No matter how hard I try!”
I feel her pain. I have spent my whole life trying hard to achieve the perfect cone. I’ve spent so much time beating myself up over the fact that nothing is perfect enough, that my carpet has stains and my house is never clean enough, that we never have enough or give enough or do enough. I have spent way too much time in frustration over the fact that my body is not perfect, I have let a few extra pounds keep me from loving myself. I have cried over the fact that I am sometimes so far from that perfect Proverbs 31 woman that it seems impossible for me to ever really make it. I’ve berated myself over every little fault that leads to lack of perfection. I’ve let the persuit of perfection keep me locked in a constant not-good-enough mindset so that at times I feel unable to do anything at all. And through it all, I’ve figured that despite all of this I am not a perfectionist. No, not me! Because if I really were a perfectionist, my house would be much, much cleaner.
We are bombarded every day with reasons to feel like we aren’t living up to the standard. Every box of ice cream cones, for Pete’s sake, is sending us a message that we will never be perfect enough! And even when we know in our minds that the only perfect scoop of ice cream is the one that’s plastic and inedible, we suffer in our hearts because our’s doesn’t measure up.
That’s not God’s intent. That’s not His standard. God knows that this is an imperfect world, He knows that we’re missing the mark. But that’s not how He sees those who belong to Him! God sees my frantic efforts to be perfect and He shakes His head. He really doesn’t see the fact that my scoop of ice cream is lopsided, dripping off the cone, and slightly freezer-burned. The perfect cone wouldn’t bring Him joy anyway…God delights in my joy as I eat that cone, as I am grateful in my heart to the God who created me to love sweet treats enjoyed with my family, sitting outside in the golden light of the first day of September. You can’t delight in the taste and feel of cold ice cream on your tongue if the ice cream is perfect…and plastic. God sees me as perfect, fearfully and wonderfully made just the way I am. He doesn’t hate my flawed efforts to please Him any more than I would rip up a drawing made by my children because it didn’t look perfect enough. He values my efforts, like I value my kids’ efforts. He maybe even hangs them on His fridge.
I hugged Youngest, wiped away her tears. “You know,” I said. “I think the perfect scoop of ice cream is the one you enjoy down to the last drop. Do you like eating plastic ice cream?” She shook her head, and smiled a little. “Well, neither do I! They can keep their perfect, plastic scoop of ice cream. You can make yours twice as big and a million times more tasty, and it will be better than that plastic scoop on the box!” She nodded again, and her usual sunny smile broke out in full. “Can I have sprinkles?” She asked. “Sure you can,” I replied. “And let’s eat it outside, in the sun. Because the perfect ice-cream cone is the one that you enjoy to the full, whatever it looks like!”
God, thank you that you see through my imperfections and you love me perfectly. Please help me remember that, and learn to do the same!
This post is is part of Walk with Him Wednesday at Holy Experience. Please go visit and read other posts on ways to Walk with Him!