Billy Graham once said, “Anxiety is the natural result when our hopes are centered in anything short of God and his will for us.”

When we believe we’re meant to live a perfect life, there is a sense of a mandate to be flawless. It’s good to desire holiness and perfection, but the angst that comes from failure to attain them often generates anxiety, stress and fear that we aren’t right with God. We’re never at peace, and we can’t enjoy the fullness of the presence of God and a hunger satisfied because we think our perfection is up to us. It’s exhausting and unattainable.

All the anxiety in the world won’t make you a better person or a more perfect Christian. Rather than tormenting ourselves with what we lack, we are called to examine our hearts and offer our insufficiency up to him. Hear the words of the apostle Paul: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God”(Philippians 4:6, ESV).

The coastal forests stretching from central California to southern Oregon are home to the giant redwoods, some of earth’s oldest, most magnificent trees. These towering beauties are a literal look back through time. When we stand awestruck at the foot of an old-growth redwood tree, it’s hard to believe that it began its climb as a mere seedling. Although tiny and hundreds of years away from become a giant, the small plant is perfect at every stage of growth. Its size and vulnerability belie the greatness in its DNA.

We too, as God’s handiwork, are complete at every phase of growth when we receive our sustenance from him. When Jesus said, “You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), he was compelling us to take on his perfection. His words and Spirit are the nourishment that pushes us upward. Our struggles to please others and impress God are real, sometimes lifelong battles, but the Lord offers a way out. “My power is made perfect in weakness,” he says (2 Corinthians 12:9). He takes the long view sees our great potential even when we are small and wavering. When we entrust our lives to him, we are complete, perfect at every stage of growth.