Then I let it all out;
I said, "I'll make a clean breast of my failures to God."
Suddenly the pressure was gone?
my guilt dissolved,
my sin disappeared.
Psalm 32:5, The Message
Perfection. I demand it of myself. I insist on it in my trainees. No one wants to put the life of a child into the hands of a medical provider who is anything less. And yet, even my best shot at perfection is not good enough. It is not enough to stop death. What do you do when you give your very best, and still everything falls apart?
It's not just at the office. Just like most parents I know, I want to be the perfect parent. I want to protect my kids but still let them learn and grow, love them but set good boundaries, challenge them but not give them a complex, cuddle the right amount, push the right amount, be present but not a helicopter, feed the right foods, read the right books, check the right boxes. I mess it up all the time. I ask my kids for forgiveness. But sometimes that not-good-enough feeling wants to linger. Can I really forgive myself?
Fortunately, we serve a loving God who does not demand perfection, but love. Love for God, love for neighbor, and love for self. God is there to celebrate when we do our best, and there with an embrace when our best is not enough. In His darkest moments, Christ extends forgiveness to us. Forgiving ourselves does not require another perfect act, but rather opening ourselves to what is already present and waiting - God's abundant, joyful, flowing love... and forgiveness.