We read in the scriptures a commandment from Christ to “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matt. 5:48). Maybe just speaking for myself, but sometimes we tend to read this as meaning that we need to be perfect in everything right now, thinking it is not okay to make mistakes or be less than that ideal image of perfection we see. Looking further into this passage though, we see that Heavenly Father does not expect this of us, and focusing on this perfectionism doesn’t lead to the happiness Heavenly Father wants us to have in this life.
Looking at the meaning of “perfect” as it was meant in the original Bible manuscripts, the word translated into “perfect” implies something is “brought to its end, finished; wanting nothing necessary to completeness.” So in the verse in Matthew, Christ is not telling us to be sinless like He Himself was sinless in this life, nor is He telling us to be flawless at home, in our schoolwork, our career, or in our relationships with people. This commandment is for us to be complete, even as our Father in Heaven is complete. None of us are intended or expected to accomplish this commandment in this life. This is an eternal commandment that asks of us to do our best job while on the Earth so we can return to Heavenly Father and become like Him as we receive perfect, resurrected bodies and are brought to a higher state of being than the fallen mortal state we live in now.
Recognizing that it is okay to be imperfect today is something that I need to do more. I know sometimes I expect even more of myself than my Heavenly Father does. This does not mean that we should become complacent, but we should try to accept that we will make mistakes, and we will do things we regret, and we will be imperfect in life. We need to understand that these little, or even big, mistakes we make do not lessen our value or make us bad people. Once we do this, we can be even more constructive in our movement towards Heavenly Father.
Perfection is a long way off from all of us as we look to Christ as our example. However, as we trust in Him we can recognize that He will make up for that gap between us as we have our hearts in the right places and at least try. For all of us perfectionists out there, the sooner we recognize that we are not perfect, we never will be perfect, and that it is okay not to be perfect, the sooner we can be truly happy as we are.