Continue with me as we examine Ms. Perfection from chapter two of Lisa Whittle's Behind Those Eyes....
I have to say, after reading this chapter on Sunday, I thought "I have nothing to contribute." Once again, I'm hit with the reminder that I am no one's wife (legally) and I am no one's mother. Hit with those feelings of being the "odd one out" and the one who "doesn't have", I felt rebellious (maybe angry) over not having anything to contribute to this chapter. Don't get me wrong. It is not that I don't struggle with trying to do things perfectly. I do but not in the ways and areas described in the book...in the mother and wife roles and all that those roles entail.
Back up a little because before I read Ms. Perfection, I thought I'd have a lot in common with this chapter as I've always called myself a perfectionist.
I am the one who can literally see an extra space typed in a document or on the web.
I am the one who perfects the neat and orderly.
I am the one who does not like grass clippings in the flower beds (getting better).
I am the one who cleans up while cooking, even at the expense of burning the food (at times).
So with all that, I thought this chapter would just yell my name.
As I walked Monday night, I asked the Lord to give me something to share and to speak to me through the study questions, of which I had not done yet.
Speak, He did! It seems it is the questions that get my juices flowing from places truly unknown. So it is the result of those juices that I will share here.
I could only guess what makes us want people to see us as perfect. Maybe it is our desires to be perfect, to be praised, to be recognized by others. I think a lot of it is our own expectations of ourselves. We want to get it all done, not only to look good to others but to feel good in ourselves. Or it can be to hide our faults and failures, not only from others but from ourselves by denial. It can be painful to admit and reveal failure, pain, and sin. I do not know why another person's opinion matters to us but it does.
I want my nieces to feel I'm the best aunt.
I want my supervisors to feel I'm an outstanding employee and asset.
I want my friends to feel I'm open, available, and truly there for them.
I want my family to feel I love them the way they need.
I want my co-workers to feel I'm friendly and helpful.
I genuinely want these things and these people to feel and see these traits in me. God willing they will, most of the time. :-)
But in the end, it does not really matter what others think of me. I recall a conversation I had with a good friend several years ago. I told her I wish I could know exactly how others see me. She said "no you don't because the opinion of another person doesn't change your value." Amen? Yet, as humans, it still does matter. Plus, I still say I want to know because if there is an overriding negative characteristic that others see, I want to change it.
It is more important to recognize perfection is not possible so that we will stop trying to achieve it. To run after something impossible (perfection) means to fall into automatic disappointment. To expect perfection is to always expect failure. We will never measure up to perfection. It's really a waste of energy, time, and focus.
I love how Lisa said "But in her quest for perfection she has worked herself into a bad mood."
Oh how I remember those days. We have to quickly get groceries, be home by x time, cooking dinner will take x minutes. We'll have x time for yard work and then have to be at this place at this time. If any of that alters, what shall I do? Yes, it still happens but not as much because it's just me and less constraints. Living single can have that ONE benefit but I'd still trade it for my marriage ANY day.
Lisa asked us to "think of a woman in scripture who suffered from the perfection syndrome." Before she even suggested it, Martha immediately came to mind. No, Martha's attitude is not harmless. It's just the same when we are focused on a clean house, laundry, to do list, timelines, errands, and don't take the time for the real meaning in life - Christ, family, and others. What about the dad who pushes away little Johnny because of the work he brought home?. Or the mom busy with making dinner on time and not looking at little Sally's art project? That's what Martha was doing. So, yes, Martha's work, work, work attitude can be very harmful and depleting of those precious moments...like sitting at Jesus' feet. ahaa
Portraying perfectionism in any relationship will automatically set us up for unmet expectations. To portray perfection means to imply that perfection will come to pass. When it does not, disappointment arises and conflicts sprout.
Lisa spoke of her friend Tiffany who said "I have learned that peace comes from my relationship with Christ, not my weight, my clothing size, what car I drive, or how many church functions I attend." It is so true. I get caught up in my weight, my looks, approval of others, being liked by others, etc. and in reality none of that amounts to a hill of beans compared to my relationship with Christ. Those things can actually take away from my relationship with Christ. Being liked by another person will not give me peace because there's always yet another person who I'll want to like me. Loosing weight won't give me peace as I'll always want to be even skinnier. Having that perfect and easy hair do won't give me peace as I'll quickly tire of that too. However, we can never tire of Christ, His peace, and His presence. We can't get enough, can we? As long as we continue to strive in His character and grow in His love, our relationship with Him will never tire. It will always sustain. It will always fulfill. We have to trust Him to be our everything when we have nothing. I have to trust Him to be MY everything when I FEEL I have nothing.
In her challenge question, Lisa asked "is it more important for you to be seen as perfect in a certain area...or seen as real?" I absolutely do not want to be seen as perfect in any area. I feel perfection builds a wall. That is, when we see a woman as perfect, we cannot fully relate and connect with her. I want others to see me as real, reachable, and relatable. God cannot use perfect people nor can He use perfection in any area. Think about it, how does the perfect mom, perfect wife, perfect friend encourage another person? If a person is perfect, then she's never endured the struggles and trials so how can she relate and help those in the depths of turmoil and pain?
I want to be a woman with faults and weaknesses so that others can relate to me and reach out to me. I want to be that "As Seen on TV" product that when brought home, it really does work as seen on tv. (Kind of like the Ped Egg...I hear it is fabulous.)
"To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless." Psalm 119:96
Revealing the Imperfect,
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