Serious Thoughts of a College Student

The Futile Struggle Towards Perfection

Human beings are constantly in a futile struggle towards perfection. Man thinks he can achieve this ultimate idealistic goal of what we should be. Furthermore, man thinks that he can do it on his own. We have this tendency to think we are self-sufficient and don’t need anyone else to help us achieve perfection. It’s all “believe in yourself” and “follow your heart,” and that’s supposed to get you where you need to go. To make matters worse, because of this idealistic goal that man is shooting towards, we are not allowed to show any flaws. We are not allowed to look like the broken mess that we are: instead we are supposed to be this flawless human being with perfect skin and teeth and a perfect personality to match everyone else’s.

My pastor says “It’s okay to not be okay, it’s not okay to stay that way.” I think this is something that everyone needs to remember. It’s okay to have problems, to struggle, stumble, and fall. It’s okay to be in pain, to suffer, to struggle against fear. But it’s not okay to wallow in it. The thing is, without Christ, there is no way that we can overcome our pain and our struggle against fear and doubt and anxiety. We are helpless without Christ.

There is a music group that you may have heard of, called Twenty One Pilots. It’s two guys, one is the drummer, and the other does most of the other instruments, plus the vocals. They’re both Christian guys, though it’s not a Christian band. They have subtle messages hinting at their faith in many of their songs. One of their earlier songs called “March to the Sea” has some really interesting lyrics that kind of talk about this idea of man’s desire for perfection and how we need to turn to God.

No one looks up anymore

‘Cause you might get a raindrop in your eye

And Heaven forbid they see you cry

As we fall in line

 

And about this time of every year

The line will go to the ocean pier

And walk right off into the sea

And then we fall asleep

 

And as we near the end of land

And our ocean graves are just beyond the sand

I ask myself the question

Why I fall in line

 

Then out of the corner of my eye

I see a spaceship in the sky

And hear a voice inside my head:

Follow me instead

Follow me instead

Follow me

 

Then the wages of war will start

Inside my head with my counterpart

And the emotionless marchers will chant the phrase:

This line’s the only way…

 

Take me up, seal the door

I don’t want to march here anymore

I realize that this line is dead

So I’ll follow You instead

This is a decent part of the song. It’s a metaphor describing humanity marching to their death, with Christ calling certain people to follow Him instead. The first stanza I quoted says “oh, don’t let them see you cry,” which is kind of like saying “oh, don’t let them see your flaws, your imperfections, your problems. Just follow everyone else.” It’s this idea that the world wants perfection from you and you will be judged if you don’t show them that perfection. But you don’t have to fit this standard of perfection, namely because you can’t without Christ.

The world wants us to fit a certain mold. But the world isn’t the only group known to try to fit people into a mold. Even Christians do it. We as Christians tend to expect people to be okay externally, but also to admit to having little faults. We don’t talk about the big things, the pain, the insecurity, the fear, the big problems that rage inside of us. Because the big problems we face just reveal how horrible we really are, and even Christians don’t like to admit how sinful we really are. We like to pretend we are totally, 100% normal and okay and in no way as bad as ‘those worldly people over there…’ My pastor from my church back in Seattle told the story of how he had been talking to a lesbian who was really closed off towards Christianity, and he told her, “The only difference between you and I is that I have Christ and you don’t. I’m no better than you.” Because so many Christians had snubbed her and acted like they were so much better than her because of her sin, failing to realize that without Christ they are no better. It is only through Christ that we can do any good.

So why do we keep up this façade of being perfect? Why are we as Christians too afraid to admit that we struggle with the hard stuff too? Why are we afraid to admit that we struggle with depression and doubt and anxiety and fear and worry and everything that everyone else struggles with? We have hope that the world doesn’t have, we have a God that helps us to fight the struggles we deal with, so why can’t we share our struggles and how God helps us deal with them, in the hopes that others can benefit from our experience, and can see our faith through our struggles? Why are we so caught up in perfection and looking like we have it all together that we miss the point?  I think one of the reasons we struggle, and go through trials is that our problems enable us to help others through what they’re going through by sharing our story.

So I’m not going to hide behind the perfect façade that is expected for me to have. I’m not perfect and I can never hope to be: that’s the beauty of the Gospel. We can’t be perfect, but God loves us anyways, and sent His son to die so that we can inherit his perfect life. He helps us through every trial, every temptation, every fear and doubt and struggle in our life. So why pretend we don’t struggle, when the beauty of the gospel is that we struggle, but God saves us? I am going to live my life, admitting that I struggle, that I stumble and fall, but that God picks me back up and sets me on solid ground time and time again-because that’s the beauty of the gospel.

There’s another Twenty One Pilots song called “Car Radio” that says:

There are things we can do

But from the things that work there are only two

And from the two that we choose to do

Peace will win

And fear will lose

There’s faith and there’s sleep

We need to pick one please because

Faith is to be awake

And to be awake is for us to think

And for us to think is to be alive

And I will try with every rhyme

To come across like I am dying

To let you know you need to try to think

This is saying that there are two choices, life or death, peace or fear. What they say is that faith and peace need to win, but the only way they win is if you choose to think. He says in the last three lines that his entire goal is to make people think, so that they can be brought to faith and peace. That’s most certainly an admirable goal. Twenty One Pilots subtly slips their faith into most of their songs, so that some don’t even notice it, but it reaches so many people. Well I don’t know that I’m going to be that subtle all the time, but this is most certainly my goal—to show people the hope I have and to tell them that they can have it too, even in their darkest moments, especially in their darkest moments.  So this is my main goal for my blog: to show people my hope, and explain that they don’t have to be alone, that everyone struggles, but that Christianity is where they can find hope, light in the darkness.

 

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