“Practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect.”
My elementary school music teacher used to wear this phrase out.
It didn’t really ruffle my feathers as a kid but it’s certainly stuck with me throughout the years. And now, as a perfectionist grappling with the concept of perfection, I keep coming back to it.
In a sense, I see her point. (And have to extend a certain measure of grace, seeing as she was driven by the monotony of a classroom of children hitting cymbals on the off beat) But I think she’s as wrong as the original cliché. There is no perfection in us alone.
There is only Christ.
And let me tell you, in striving toward Him, we have to be content with imperfect progress. Because if we’re not, we’re bound to give up; throw in the towel saying, ‘What’s the point? Clearly, my practice isn’t perfect. And if I’m not perfect at it; why continue trying?” Here you’ll find the end of all learning.
In reality, imperfect progress is the most accurate description of how we do life, right up until we get to heaven. Practice is how we get to grow in relationship to the Perfection that is outside our ability. As much as that might sound discouraging to those of us bent toward, shall we say more compulsive tendencies, the Truth in it is anything but.
In acknowledging our imperfections, we come closer to understanding our inherent inadequacy apart from God. And that, my friends, is the first step toward actual Perfection: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Psalm 111:10).
So truly, there are no valid excuses to give up or quit trying. Just keep moving forward. I promise you’ll improve your practice along the way. And if my imperfect progress has taught me anything, I’d say your attempts will matter less the closer you get to reaching His Best on the other side.