Escaping the impossible quest for perfection

Dear friends in Fallbrook,

Women live in the anxious process of always comparing while being compared. Long aisles of makeup and a steady supply of ads promise to make women beautiful in the eyes of others, and many women report that the only way to stay ahead in this twisted game is to do just that—think of themselves always through the judging eyes of “the other.”

In a recent book called “Face Value — The Hidden Ways Beauty Shapes Women’s Lives,” author Autumn Whitefield–Madrano writes about something we often think of as a modern problem—the impossible quest for perfection. While I have no doubt that today’s always-on technology has only added fuel to this fire, the problem of the impossible quest for perfection is an ancient one.

Women know the routine quite well. Those minutes in front of the mirror every day aren’t as much about beauty as they are about a mental review of the insecurities, anxieties, and questions that wrinkle your face over the years. And the foundation isn’t blotting any of it away.

Men have their own version. The mirror reveals that paunch inching further and further over the waistband of your underwear, pound after unwanted pound a reminder that your youth is swiftly fading and with it your sense of strength. Sucking it in isn’t helping, either.

It’s simple biology, but the consequences are profound—as long as we seek identity in beauty and strength we’ll be left empty. A lifetime spent feeding the insatiable hunger for beauty and strength can only leave us unlovable and unloved, impotent and despised. And how these hungers shape our thoughts and actions may not be as hidden as we imagine.

Jesus is uniquely qualified to both know our emptiness and fill it with a transcendent love that we can never achieve through our own beauty and strength.

At St. Stephen Lutheran we’ve been working through a series called “Hierarchy of Hunger.” In this series we’ve considered how Jesus both identifies and satisfies our deepest human hungers for sustenance, security, identity, and purpose. Because Jesus demonstrated himself to be both God and man, he is uniquely qualified to both know our emptiness and fill it with a transcendent love that we can never achieve through our own beauty and strength.

That series continues for a few more weeks at St. Stephen Lutheran, and I’d like to invite you to come hear more. You may discover that an identity defined by faith in Jesus Christ satisfies your hungers so fully that you never look at yourself in the mirror the same way again.

Serving in Christ,

Pastor Bassett