I have often said on my blog that "I am not perfect." And I truly believe that. However, something I may have never admitted is that I expect perfection from myself. I am really mean to myself if I make a mistake, forget something, or worse lose something, or when I make a mess. You could say I beat myself up when these things happen (and yes they happen often). I do not like messing up and am not quick to forgive myself. I always want to be better and do better.
Let me give you an example that is going to seem so silly to you, but was a big deal to me. A couple years ago at the grocery store, I had a coupon for 35 cents off of something. I told myself not to forget to use it and it was in my pocket. As I was walking out of the store, I remembered. I had forgotten. I was so upset - not that I didn't save 35 cents, but that I had messed up. I didn't remember. So I walked to the car and was very bummed, but couldn't get over it (this next part is embarrassing)... I walked back into the store, returned the item and purchased it again using my coupon. Don't worry if you are thinking I am crazy, my husband also thought I had lost my mind. But you see it wasn't about the 35 cents. I was not perfect. I forgot something. I messed up. And I do not like messing up.
While growing up, I feared not being perfect. I was a straight A student (partly from fear of making a B and because I'm part genius, lol just kidding). I only had to "pull a card" one time in elementary school and that is because I forgot to write a Lesson # on my math homework in 4th grade and someone told on me. (I cried.) However, in 2nd grade I forgot my math homework almost everyday at school and my wonderful mom would take me back up there and get it every night. I guess my perfectionism hadn't started yet. :)
Ok, so I'm a weirdo - or I have a strange quirk about me. But a couple nights ago, I was reading a new book, You're Already Amazing by Holley Gerth, and I had what I hope is a life changing realization and conversation with God and my husband. There were a couple chapters talking about finding out what our strengths are and what our skills are. A strength is a personal characteristic that can be used on behalf of God in service to others. There was a list of words to choose from and my husband and I agreed that Honesty was my #1 strength. Then a couple pages over there was a list to find your skills, the ordinary things we do. My husband knew my skill was cooking. Oh wait, no not even in the slightest. But we did end up picking a few that would possibly describe me. However a lot of the "skills" were conflicting. My husband explained me to me and said it's like I have 2 sides. (lol, thanks Babe.) But what he was saying is my honesty runs through every part of who I am, but then I have skills that are being a good friend, being thoughtful, and self-reflecting. Then there is the other side. The side where I care more about tasks then the people I am working with. He said I would be a good leader if I could combine the two together and figure out how to be thoughtful and kind while doing a task.
If you have had the pleasure of working with me on a task, you may have noticed I'm not the easiest person to work with. I focus on the task, I think I have good ideas, I want to, as my husband called it, "bulldog" through and get it done and done right. I am not sensitive to people during a task like I am at other times. (I'm not impossible to work with so don't be scared if you're signed up to do something with me though - I'm working on this now.)
A few pages later the author, Holley, was talking about lies that women believe about themselves that are from Satan. Then I read --- Lie #1: "I Have to Be Perfect." WHOA. Without reading any further I elbow nudged my husband and said HEY! Listen to this - this is me! "(Ms. Perfectionist) She's bossy, inconsiderate, joy-stealing, impossible-to-please taskmaster who's never satisfied. She doesn't play well with others."
Then something hit me. I started crying. My husband asked what was the matter. (Which is the point of this post it just took me awhile to get here - sorry.) I have been expecting perfection from my daughter, Kai. My daughter is 4 1/2 and is JUST like her mommy. She is such a good kid. I always hear great things about her from her Sunday class teachers. She never gets into trouble and she is a rule follower. Also, she doesn't like to make mistakes or not know how to do something. She will get very frustrated with herself.
However, recently at home I kept finding myself being short with her, snapping, and losing patience. If I had to tell her to do something more than once I was frustrated with her. It seemed I was always getting frustrated. She would do something she knew she wasn't supposed to and I would get frustrated. I think Kairi was starting to have fear of doing something wrong or making a mistake. And that is what controlled her behavior at most times.
The morning that I read this book, I was talking to Kairi about her new school and explaining the rules and how I wanted her to listen to the teacher and that there was going to be a pull a card "green pig" system. I told her I would be the one picking out her clothes. And not to mention, I have put a fear in her of getting her shirt dirty (I can never get chocolate stains out).
Jonathan and I had a long conversation about Kairi and how we don't give her enough freedom to make her own choices. She is a good kid, but we want her to have the freedom to choose the right thing or if she chooses the wrong thing we want her to learn from her mistakes and how to handle the consequences (as long as it's not a safety issue). Jonathan preached a sermon a month ago that had a great point that he brought up, "When we don't expect ourselves to get everything right, we find a freedom that allows us to live a life that honors God." And that's what I want from my life. That's what I want from Kairi's life. I don't want perfection, I want us to honor God with our lives and all that we do.
I stopped and prayed for us. I prayed for forgiveness and I prayed that I could believe God's truth. That when I gave my life to Jesus, he gave his to me too. In God's eyes, I'm as perfect as Christ. (Gal 2:20) I am not perfect as in I do not sin, but I am perfect as in I am complete in Christ.
I need to give grace to myself and others (Kairi) when we make mistakes. I need to be forgiving. It's not about being perfect; it's about growth.
- Perfectionism is about outward appearances.
- Growth is about what happens on the inside.
- Perfectionism is about what we do.
- Growth is about who we're becoming.
We are going to mess up. We are going to sin. We are going to forget. We are going to lose things. We are not always going to make the right choice. "We make some progress and then we slip up. But we're further along than where we were before. We've gained new wisdom, developed our strengths a bit more, and we leaned a little harder into God." --- You see not being perfect is a good thing.
"I don't have to be perfect.
I only need to be perfectly loved."
So that's what I want. I want to be perfectly loved by my Father in Heaven. I want to accept what Jesus did for each and every one of us. He died on the cross for OUR sins, not His, so that we will not have to face the ultimate consequence. He has made us perfect and covered our mess ups with his blood and love.
"Jesus has the final say. He covers the lies with love. May he heal us and help us to believe them."