This is a blog post which might seem to say the opposite of what I usually say. However, by the grace of God, I hope it is fair to say that it is entirely consistent with everything I have always maintained. And it is simply this – the need to avoid, even run away from, someone who is, or appears to be, Mr Perfect. I make no apologies for the facts that I strive to be excellent in all that I do, and that I am also by God’s grace insisting on such a husband for myself. However there is such a big difference between a “Mr Perfect” and someone who is genuinely excellent.
A man of real excellence is a real person, with real strengths, as well as real weaknesses. However he will be striving always by God’s grace for improvement, for growth, for genuine understanding. No matter what heights he attains in Christ, no matter what level he achieves, he will always be a real person, with real strengths, real weaknesses, real areas he needs to work on. However, a Mr Perfect is simply a liar. A Mr Perfect is someone who pretends to demonstrate perfection of character – and the most important thing for him will be keeping up that pretence – no matter what. So if you catch him quite obviously doing something wrong, instead of just admitting it, dealing with it, getting over it, he would prefer to pretend that he did not do it, for the sake of “keeping up appearances”. It is all about maintaining an image of outward respectability for the sake of what other people see, rather than actually being an excellent person from the inside out, which includes a willingness to admit your faults. Many people are like this, but the dangerous difference with a Mr Perfect is that he will have honed this habit to the point where it is utterly convincing, especially to a poor naïve woman who is looking for a husband. (Like me, you ask?! Emphatically no comment!!)
Off the top of my head, these are a few signs of a Mr Perfect:
1) He will always say the right thing. ALWAYS.
Think for a second about how implausible this is: that with any two people they will always agree about everything, OR for any one individual that he will always have a correct opinion about everything; that is, an opinion which does not need to be refined, or improved upon, an opinion which does not need any growth whatsoever. The thing about these people is that everything they say will always be just the right side of being politically correct, perhaps they measure up people to assess what they think that people want to hear, everything that they say will be measured, and it will be perfect! Even the areas that they disagree with you will be perfectly measured, to express just the right amount of friendly disagreement. From this, I can conclude that for them their priority is not to express what they genuinely think, but rather to appear to think and say the right things, that other people would find acceptable. I think that this is true of the way they would behave generally, so I can only imagine that it is all the more true when they want to impress a future spouse. Although I guess it might be true that someone might behave like this with everyone else, but deliberately seek a spouse with whom they can be honest. However if someone is trying to woo me, and is behaving like a Mr Perfect, then I know he is trying to sell to me a relationship which would be a lie.
2) They always do the “right” thing. ALWAYS.
They always know just where to get the “right” beautiful bunch of flowers for Valentine’s day, professionally gift-wrapped (Marks & Spencers – for non-Brits, a highly regarded British store chain, or for people in London, perhaps a high-end florist, the kind of place where you would max out your credit card for the sake of buying a single rose stem, otherwise some artsy, ditsy place, but sufficiently well-known) – they would never dream of offering you some flowers that they have spontaneously – or hastily – picked themselves (ie the kind of flowers that I would love!), they always drive the “right” kind of car to meet social approval, they always live in the “right” part of town, always wear the “right” kind of clothes – everything about them is “right” for the sake of meeting social approval. They do everything in the order which has been prescribed by society – first we date for a bit, then we meet the parents, get married, have 2.4 kids…. Once again it is not because this is an expression of who they really are. Rather it is for the sake of making an impression on other people. Nothing must be allowed to get in the way of that! Doing something that is not sanctioned by common approval is utterly unthinkable! Although of course they do continue to do what they truly want to do, but behind closed doors, in secret. Do you ever notice how, when someone is exposed as living a double life, the people that knew them before their exposure always refer to them as being the “perfect” husband (or wife), friend, neighbour; an upstanding member of the community?
This might sound counter-intuitive, but if, at the end of knowing someone for two years, and going on to date them, you observe that they have never done anything wrong – never rolled their eyes sarcastically, never done anything which might require an immediate, perhaps rueful apology; rather they always take you to the “right” places, always wear the “right” clothes, spend the “right” amount of money, and they always know how to do everything just so, then I would run – seriously – run as fast as you can. This to me speaks of someone who is investing all their efforts not into actually being the best that they can be, but rather into creating an image to convince, perhaps deceive you.
Otherwise, I can think of two options that might happen, if you did carry on to marry them.
1) They would continue on in just that same way of always doing, saying, the “right” thing, rather than the real thing, where the real thing is the genuine expression of who they really are. This would eventually lead to disillusion, and even boredom on my own part, if I was their spouse – the unexcitement of dealing with an insincere person.
2) They would reveal their true nature – and you finally, painfully discover what they have been hiding.
Making an effort?
I think I should also acknowledge that a man might strive to appear to be perfect, not for the sake of deceiving you, but rather out of a genuine desire to impress you, because he sincerely adores you. I guess you might want to assess this for yourself – is that real love shining from his eyes as he hands over those M&S flowers? Is that real concern as he expresses those “perfect” sentiments about your latest crisis? This is something to be handled with real prayer and watchfulness. Some people are so skilled that they can (falsely) imbue their actions with just the right amount of tenderness and vulnerability to convince you of their sincerity. Alternatively they might disagree with you just the right amount to make it look as if they are being real.
Ultimately, I think I would rather yell and scream at a real man than even be hugged by a liar, where he is measuring out just the right amount of pressure to touch you, to hold you. The Bible says that the “wounds of a friend are faithful, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful.” Proverbs 27v6. This of course does not mean that your husband should physically wound you – what it does mean is that sometimes, hearing the real truth about ourselves hurts, even from people who genuinely love us. However, in the long run it is better for us. Similarly, if someone is your husband, even if he is a Mr Perfect, that does not mean he is your enemy. However, not all kisses can be trusted as sincere expressions of love.
Am I a Miss Perfect? No, I am a real person, with real opinions, having a real relationship with a real God, and looking for a real man. I have real weaknesses which will be apparent to anyone as soon as I start interacting with them. I am striving for excellence in my realness. I never desire to convince people that I am perfect (because despite my pursuit of excellence, I am not perfect, I never have been and I never will be – despite striving with all my power and prayer.) Rather I strive to convince people of what I truly am.
22 What is desired in a man is kindness,
And a poor man is better than a liar.
Statue image by George Hodan at http://www.publicdomainpictures.net