When We Think We Should Live Perfectly {And Punish Ourselves If We Don’t}


I like to believe there is a light inside my spirit. There’s one in you too. It’s the peaceful, calming glow of a single candlelight burning in the darkness. Not a light of or from ourselves, but a light that reflects the One who lives in us. The One to whom all good things are possible. But every now and then, that light flickers and goes out.

It’s just not possible to live pure and holy and perfect and right every single moment of every day of our lives. We’re human. We fail. We fall short again and again.

Just when I think I’ve got one thing going well, I realize how far short I fall somewhere else. Consider this morning, when I rushed into a tearful sibling argument way too soon for my own good. In a mother’s rage, I reacted. In anger and frustration I didn’t model patience or love, let alone grace. I made assumptions, I accused, sent them to separate corners in punishing silence. Guilt is never far behind. It wades into the water with us extinguishing our light.

In the murky, muddy water we lose sight of our own two feet, firmly planted on the ground below the swirling surface. We forget that we are wholly and dearly loved. Good enough, just as we are. Relentlessly pursued beyond our failures or mistakes. We forget that His power is made perfect in our weakness.

We strive for more: the unattainable goal of perfection. We believe we should live perfectly and punish ourselves when we don’t. We hold others to even higher standards and when they fail us, when we believe they have failed us, we punish. We withhold. We act out in rage and anger. We blow out our lights.

When trial comes and we fall short of our expectations, we forget that through our failures we have the opportunity to grow and change, to live not for perfection but by a standard of grace.

We are lights to each other: a million flickering candles in an ever-present darkness. Use your light to see. To know. To recognize when another’s light has gone out and rekindle their spirit. Reignite their flame. Live by a standard of grace. Be love and light when it’s so much easier to take shelter or look away.

Do you feel waist deep in murky water? Has your light flickered out?

Remind yourself of the solid ground beneath the swirling water, and the unwavering light that still shines on you. Remember that hope and truth shine brightest in the darkest of times and your light just might be the spark that sets someone else aflame.


“Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her!”

Luke 1:45


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