The winter had been long and the opportunities to catch my neighbors outside had been few, so I slowed down and rolled down the window when I saw her crossing our short street.

I wondered if Colt’s hand-me-downs had fit her grandson and if she’d heard from another neighbor who was traveling out West – and just in general, how she was doing.

Good, she said. Considering.

Considering her son, the one who mowed our yard for years and grew up before our eyes, has heart trouble. Considering it’s the kind that can’t be fixed. Considering it’s the kind that threatens his life.

I hadn’t known. All I knew was what I had seen from two doors down: A perfectly healthy-looking 23-year-old who was working toward becoming a firefighter.

A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Still, too often I believe what I see and what I want to see. I see the woman with the high-powered career and think she never gets nervous or doubts herself the way I do. I drive past a beautifully manicured lawn and then look at the weeds blooming in mine and I feel discouraged. I forget that the property owner worked full-time until a disability took his career. I forget yard work fills his days and his self-esteem.

When you desperately want to be perfect, every picture points out your flaws – instead of pointing you to grace. And we’re a culture in love with perfection, in love with doing everything right on our own. Then when we don’t measure up? Our own perfectionism holds us back, limits the risks we take and steals our joy.

We fall for the lie that if we just tried harder we’d be better at life, when the truth is that life is messy and we’re all broken and in need of God to make us whole and to make us holy. The truth is that none of us is good enough but there is mercy enough for all of us.

I know I’m not alone in my struggle with perfectionism. That’s why I’ve put together a free seven-day devotional for us. Each day features a column I’ve published in the past, a scripture and some questions designed to get us thinking about ways to grow and change. If you’d like to download a copy, visit www.SimplyFaithful.com. You can also join the conversation on Facebook this week. Just search for the Simply Faithful page, and we can all learn together.

Marketta Gregory is a former religion reporter who now shares her own journey of faith with readers. She lives in Rochester, New York, with her husband, their three young boys and one very vocal Pomeranian. To contact Gregory, email markettagregory@yahoo.com or write to her at P.O. Box 12923, Rochester, NY 14612. You can also visit the Simply Faithful page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter at @MarkettaGregory.