Last Sunday night, when Sara got home from work, she picked up the bulletin insert from last week – and found two typos. They were obvious; I should have caught them. I told her I appreciated her sharp eye, but the insert had already been published. She said, “Then it’s no big deal.” At first I thought, “No, it is a big deal. I made a mistake in something that is very important to me.” But then I remembered that I’d already gotten several emails from friends about how much the insert meant to them, and none of them had mentioned the typos. Was I going to let the mistakes overshadow the fact that the insert did what it was supposed to do – connect with people? Sara was right: It was no big deal. A slight imperfection.

How often does our drive to achieve perfection – even when we know it is an impossible goal – take the joy out of what we’re doing? Our job become frustrating because we focus on the flaws, rather than on what is going well – or we listen to our colleagues when they do it. Our families are wracked with stress because we set unattainable goals for them and for ourselves. Our friendships sour because we disappoint each other.

We are imperfect. Rather than dwelling on where we have gone wrong, we need to embrace the grace God offers us when we fall short in His eyes – as we do each and every day. We also need to extend that same grace to each other, when our relationships and other interactions don’t turn out quite the way we’d like.

If we focus not on being perfect but on being and doing our best, we can also focus on the joy of the process, the fellowship of working with others toward a common goal, the closeness of working through problems with each other. We can come together in love and support, rather than criticism and frustration. We can do more together, because we will do it in love.

Give up perfection: Give grace.

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Romans 3:22-24