Have you noticed “perfect” is the new overused cultural word?

You place a food order and no matter what you select the server’s response is “perfect!”

You speak to a customer service rep, and regardless of the issue, the answer is “perfect!” Actually, if everything were perfect, you wouldn’t be calling customer service in the first place.

When you make a purchase, as the clerk finishes the transaction, she pipes, “Oh, these are perfect!”

Although “perfect” is the word assigned to everything these days, we all know life isn’t perfect. A health diagnosis is rarely perfect. A betrayal of marriage vows is far from perfect. The frustration of watching someone you care about continually make unwise decisions isn’t perfect. The anguish, hopelessness, and sadness of a loved one with an addiction in no way qualifies as perfect. Caregiving is challenging and exhausting, an imperfect endeavor. And the death of a loved one far sooner than seems right never falls into the perfect category.

We are an imperfect people living in an imperfect world and no amount of pretending or labeling can make perfect what isn’t. The struggle is to acknowledge the not-so-perfectness of our lives and discover ways to move forward despite the failures, loss, grief, and pain.

As we enter the Christmas season, we experience the push and hype to spend, to find the perfect gift for every person on our list. We’re encouraged to believe the perfect Christmas will result from new decorations, or the preparation of the perfect foods, or the hosting of elaborate parties, or attending festive musical presentations. But even with all the attempting and bustle and exhaustion we often experience a pervading since of emptiness and failure.

Thousands of years ago, Jesus was born into an imperfect world. His birthplace was about as far from perfect as possible, a stable, but amid the dust and animal smells came the spotless Son of God. The Savior arrived under imperfect conditions in an imperfect place to imperfect human parents, yet he grew, learned, thrived, and completed the greatest assignment ever conceived—providing a bridge between God and mankind. His life wasn’t easy. He experienced ridicule, rejection, and a brutal death, yet he provided a way for imperfectness to have relationship with perfection.

In the marathon of activities this Christmas season, think less about attempting to make everything perfect and more about the Perfect One, the reason for all the celebration—Jesus.

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