By Bethany Pitman
I love the creative Pinterest site and consult it for many things from a new hairstyle and children’s birthday party décor to family picture outfit ideas. However, the older I get, the more that images I’ve seen online also feel like an extra layer of pressure. My hair rarely ends up like the image I saved, and our family pictures often resemble a blooper reel rather than the snapshot of beauty I hoped for. Instead of embracing the new style and laughing at the pictures, I feel like I somehow failed. My expectation of perfection rarely matches reality.
It is easy to focus on the idyllic picture of that night in Bethlehem. Many portraits show Mary glowing after birthing the Christ Child as animals serenely coo at an adorably swaddled Jesus. The truth is Christ was born in the least picture-perfect way. A young woman, shunned from her community, who traveled miles while likely having contractions, went through the agony of childbirth in a barn surrounded by animals, and laid her newborn in a box of hay. From his humble beginning, Jesus made it clear that he did not come to live a life bound by what humans would consider worthy. Instead, he immersed himself in the mess of humankind. His simple lifestyle and collection of friends, ranging from prostitutes to tax collectors, was a far cry from the fame, riches, and power many expected from the long-awaited King. He did not save the world with power and money but rather in humility.
The world expects women to achieve it all from a successful career to a thriving family. This expectation causes many women to question their choices. The stress of striving for a picture-perfect life can feel overwhelming, suffocating, and lonely.
Just as Jesus built close personal relationships with Mary Magdalene, Martha, Mary the mother of James, and countless other women, Jesus sits with us in the chaos of everyday life—the moments that no one wants to “pin.” When we are passed over for a promotion; when kids are throwing a tantrum and we find ourselves saying sharp words we regret; when those thoughts we would never want anyone to know flood our mind, when it just doesn’t seem possible to meet everyone’s expectations, Jesus is right there holding our hand. He reminds us that He knows the messiness of life. He understands betrayal. He felt the pain of rejection. He was the subject of salacious rumors. He experienced doing his best and not living up to others’ expectations.
Thank goodness Jesus wasn’t concerned with meeting the world’s expectation of perfection. As he hung on the cross, he redefined the meaning of perfection, and his message was clear:
- You matter.
- You are perfect in the eyes of God because I have made you perfect and clean as I have forgiven and redeemed you.
- You cannot make any decision that will make me love you less.
- You are exactly who I created you to be.
- You are mine.
The cross erases the world’s definition of perfection and replaces it with a Savior who intimately knows your mess and forgives and loves you all the same. Today you can breathe a sigh of relief knowing you are perfect in the eyes of Christ.
Editor’s note: Our newest devotion book for women, Ordinary Moments. Extraordinary God, explores God at work in the less-than-perfect lives of ordinary women of the Bible and in our lives today.