In the fall of 2010, my wife and I spent 2 weeks in the northeast climbing mountains, staring at trees ablaze with the colors of fall, and taking pictures of God’s amazing creation. Watching seasons change right before your eyes is such an amazing picture of the providence of God in making all things new. Driving through the white mountains of New Hampshire, around every curve seeing wild animals, waterfalls and every other kind of wonder that exists in God’s immaculate creation. We had nowhere to be, no one that needed anything from us, and only the daylight restricting our excursions.
We were sort of stationed at a friend’s house in New Hampshire, where they gave us a car and each day said, “GO explore!” It was so cool to have that kind of freedom.
While we were touring about New England country side passing through antique covered bridges, 150 year old farmhouses surrounded by miles and miles of orange, yellow and red foliage, we were blown away at the creative complexity of what we were seeing. If you have ever questioned God’s imagination, spend a little time in New England in the fall. We explored the mountains, and small towns of northern New England states, the big city of Boston, and the historical towns of Maine.
We hunkered in for a few nights at a bed and breakfast in Kennebunkport, ME. Kennebunkport is the quintessential New England town, with bed and breakfasts on every corner, shops and restaurants to satisfy the touring “leaf peeper,” for weeks and history so old you actually feel like you stepped into a time machine and traveled back to 1855. I’m serious; covered wagons driving the streets, gigantic plantation style homes that still don’t have underground plumbing! Many of the homeowners must vacate the community in the colder months because they have to shut off their water… and all this just to maintain the historical integrity of the community.
My wife and I spent our entire time their commenting on how incredibly surreal it was to be living life in this town. No crime, no pollution, nothing but fresh air, beautiful scenery, and streets and shops that look like they belong at a Disney world theme park.
It was perfect!
I don’t mean perfect like, “oh this is nice… “I mean, perfect like straight out of a Martha Stewart catalog. The kind of perfect that is nice for a bit, but then after a while starts to make you sick…
“Can this be real?”
“Who actually lives here? What are there lives really like?”
Behind the perfect masquerade there has to be problems… cheating wives, abusive husbands, alcoholism, misbehaving children?
Still, our hearts were so drawn to this place… we imagined packing up all our stuff, loading up our family and hiding away in obscurity in the tiny tourist town of Kennebunkport, ME. We could be neighbors with George Bush (He has a summer home there), plant a church, and live in this perfection forever.
No problems, no worries, and even if there were, in these surroundings who cares? We even went as far as to look at houses for sale online. Thankfully five minutes of browsing homes on realtor.com brought us back to earth, but it got me wondering… why are our hearts were so drawn to this picture of perfection? What is it deep down that craves the serenity of a perfect life. At the very heart level we know it doesn’t exist, we know that wherever you go, there you are, we know that no one and nothing is perfect, but it doesn’t stop our hearts from dreaming about… from seeking it, from wanting it.
The painful reality every human, is painfully aware of, is that we are in fact, imperfect people living in an imperfect world. That’s our reality. We know it, see it and feel it every day, and if even for a second something convinces us other wise, life has a way of reminding us really quickly.
It’s why we love the Christmas season. It’s like for the month of December we all give each other and ourselves the freedom to put life aside. We get to spend money we don’t have, stay up later than usual, have parties every night of the week, and eat until our hearts are more than content, and our clothes no longer fit. It’s like the line from the song, Have yourself a merry little Christmas… you know,
“From now on our troubles will be miles away.”
We want perfection so bad that we actually carve out seasons of life where we get to forget that we live in a fallen world and just push all the hurt and mess under the rug and pretend it’s not there.
The problem with this approach to life is that as life gets harder, relationships get more and more broken and circumstances get tough, we tend to try our very best to live our entire lives attempting to create alternate realities that allow us to escape the pain of this world. The way we do that is by pretending, putting on a face, convincing ourselves that everything is perfect.
In doing this, we, as a human race have essentially created a don’t ask, don’t tell policy with everyone in our lives…
“We’ll all pretend we have it all together even though we know we don’t and we will look the other way when we see others acting the very same way.”
As long as everyone pretends, and gives everyone else permission to pretend, life can go on as usual, we can hurt a little less, think a little less, and live with some fabricated sense of peace about our life and its pursuits.
But what happens when the mess simply comes back out? What happens when our brokenness can no longer stay hidden? Its like our lives are hiding a hangover, until it smells something that reminds them of the drunken episode last night and it can no longer contain the gross from coming back up. All at once our lives vomit the brokenness that has been hiding deep down all over ourselves and everyone around us in the form of anger, alcoholism, rape, murder pornography addiction, etc. etc. etc.
Why do we seek out something that we know doesn’t exist? Why do we pursue something that is unattainable? Why do we line our coffee tables with magazines full of airbrushed images we know aren’t real, and then allow those images to dictate the pursuits of our lives?
Why are we so drawn to perfection?
Because we were created to be!
The reality we all live with as human beings is that our creator intended for us to live out eternity in perfect harmony with Him. We were made perfect, by a perfect designer to live in perfection.
The fall of man left a gigantic hole. It left an open wound, it created a tension that we will live with forever,
We are incomplete and we know it.