picky picky picky: the quest for perfection
Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him. Psalm 34:8 (NIV)
Picky, picky, picky…yep, that’s me! I have what some may say is an internal “flaw-finding-meter.” Now, I know you’re probably thinking—what in the world is that? Well, it basically just means I have this little radar inside of me that focuses on all the flaws, faults, and shortcomings—in me, in others, and all around me.
Sometimes, it turns on in restaurants, when I try a new dish and consider it to be totally less appetizing than the waitress presented it to be. Or maybe, it’s while I’m reading a book, that in my opinion could have absolutely ended with a better bang. It even pours out to my friends and family, what I think they should or shouldn’t have done during a certain situation. Goodness, even while I’m writing this I’m picking out the flaws! The radar shouts, “This won’t be good enough. You aren’t qualified to do this. You aren’t close to being finished—just save it as a draft and never publish it.” I think this is why writing a book just seems so far out of the question, because if I don’t even like my own stuff, how will anyone else?
If all of this doesn’t show my humanity, I might as well open up and tell you about how insanely hard it is for me to make decisions. I try on a thousand dresses in the fitting room, search the web for months to find just the perfect piece of furniture, and my goodness, don’t even try to ask me what I want for my birthday! Too many questions, too many choices…someone pick for me!
I often say to a salesperson who has helped me, “Can I have your card please? And would you write down all of the info on this item I’m interested in, and let me get back to you a little later?” This floods over to every area of my life. While ordering at a restaurant, it’s even worse. “Can you add extra jalapeños, and be sure the temperature on the meat is just so? I want it pink…but definitely not red. Say…medium rare, please?”
Dear Lord, I can just drive myself crazy with my own pickiness! If I wasn’t me, I would hate being around myself.
This all can drive Greg absolutely crazy at times, too. If I know he’s going to purchase a birthday, anniversary, or Christmas gift, I make sure to whisper, “Please don’t buy anything that doesn’t come with a warranty or full refund.” I know, that sounds pretty crazy…but it’s true. It’s what I do.
Who do I think I am? Sizing up everything in the universe, like I’m some kind of cosmic critic.
I would like to think that I am just discerning, but in reality, I am just entirely too picky. Maybe I am not the only one out there who can relate? This is why divorce is high, why people church-hop, and why some are having a mid-life crisis…and they are only in their twenties!
The children of Israel had this condition in the wilderness. They looked at the manna God had provided and they said, “it’s not good enough. We are tired of this worthless bread. In Egypt, we could have melons, leeks, fish and lemons!” Never mind the fact that they were slaves…somehow, they managed to block that out of their minds. The food may have been free, but did they forget they were in chains? They couldn’t appreciate their freedom and provision in the wilderness.
For some people out there, happiness is always “out there, somewhere…anywhere but here.” This is huge problem. Just look at Adam and Eve in the Garden. Perfection, beauty, and everything they could ever desire. It wasn’t just good by our standards, it was very good by the highest standard in the universe—God’s standard. And yet, the serpent introduces the thought to Eve, “Are you really able to have and do anything you want?” She answered, “No, we can have/do anything, but we are not to eat of this particular tree.” And right then and there, they were not satisfied with what God had made for them to enjoy and eat.
What is the Bible telling us in this story? It is an ever timely message reminding us this—if we were to be put in the most perfect situation imaginable, and we still had this sinful nature, we would find something wrong with it. Yep, that’s where the flaw-finding-meter would kick into high gear! When you allow this meter to run your heart, you can never sit down and enjoy what’s in front of you. You can never sit back and just receive what you have. The thought of, “more, better, more” will constantly run through your mind.
To one degree or another, we’re all suffering from this dilemma. Just look around you. You go to the store and buy the new “it” item, only to realize in a few weeks that it’s on clearance now, and the new item of the month is on display right in front of you. Instantly, you feel less-than…behind on the trends. You need that item to keep up, to have worth. That’s the symptom. So, what’s the root of the problem then?
Maybe it is not who or what is not good enough. Maybe it isn’t that thing, or situation, or person; maybe it is just in us! Maybe the root of it all is this: we don’t trust God to fulfill us, to be as good as He truly is.
We get a prime example of this when we look at the children of Israel. They only saw the manna. And while looking at it, they said, “Our souls have dried up.” Why? Because they saw nothing but the manna.
But now our soul is dried away: there is nothing at all, beside this manna, before our eyes (Numbers 11:6 KJV).
This is what they were really saying: “It is not enough.”
We have nothing but what God has given us, and we’re drying up. If we take only what God has given us, we’re never going to be satisfied. If we rely only on what God has done, if we rely wholly on Him alone, we are going to die.”
They were wrong. In spite of what they thought, the manna was enough.
Sometimes, in our limited vision, we look at something God has given and don’t think it is enough. Let me tell you this: it is always enough. If all you have is God, you have all you need.
He feeds us too. Just as they had every nutrient they needed, all the vitamins they needed, it’s true for us. It was temporary food for a time in the wilderness, the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey, vineyards and trees, was just a few miles away.
Let’s remember what God did for them.
And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that He might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years (Deuteronomy 8:2–4 KJV).
“All I have needed, Thy hand hath provided … great is Thy faithfulness!”
We are His children, and we can trust our heavenly Father wholeheartedly to give us our daily bread—everything we need to live, all that will make our souls thrive and grow. So, the next time you look at your life and think, “it’s just not enough”—not enough beauty here, not enough love there, just remember Jesus. He is the Bread of Life, and He is perfect in all of His ways. Stop focusing on the manna and think of the miracle of what He provided for you. Stop complaining and start trusting.
God’s plan always comes with God’s provision.
You just have to ask yourself, “Is God alone enough for me?” If the answer is “yes,” then let me assure you—you’ll never lack a single thing you need, because you will find He was—and is—always enough for you.