My (Jay’s) mom has a famous saying: “Sorry, kiddo, there’s no perfection in this world!” Mostly, she said that to me when I was disappointed because my expectations went unmet. Unmet expectations can be a real killer in relationships, and they are exacerbated by our culture and its obsession with social media, comparison and perfectionism.
Laura and I love social media. It is a great way to stay in touch with distant friends, to watch their kids grow and, in general, to stay up on what is new with people we care about. Unfortunately, everyone posts their A game on social media. As a result, we never see the real life they are living. For example, if people look at our Facebook page, they see all the fun places we travel to and all the neat people we meet. They may think we have a dream job. And to a certain extent, we do. However, what they cannot see is us crawling into bed at 2:00 a.m., because our flight was delayed or our constant battle with weight because we are on the road all the time where exercise is nonexistent and eating out is the norm.
Looking only at another person’s A game leads to comparison. When we compare, we tend to get stuck on the idea of why everyone else’s life is so much better than ours. Their life is not better than ours; it is just different. Again, we do not know their struggles and challenges. We also do not know their past, and the path they have walked.
Comparison is the thief of joy. When we compare, we rob ourselves of the tremendous joy that comes from knowing God is in control. He has us right where He wants us. When we focus on the blessings we do have, we tend to see our life differently, our spouse differently, and our relationships differently – we are more likely to see them in the light of God and His sovereignty.
And when we realize God is in control we can eliminate perfectionism. Early in our marriage, I (Jay) thought that if Laura was more like me, we would have a perfect marriage. Then she gently reminded me that if both of us were the same, one of us would not be necessary. And I can tell you who that would be!
Ruth Graham once said that good marriages are made up of two great forgivers. Nothing could be truer. When I realize all that God has forgiven in me, it becomes easier to forgive others, particularly my spouse.
Only when we learn to forgive, will we understand why “there ain’t no perfection in this world.” Learning to forgive also helps us focus on progress, not perfection.