From the time I was a teenager, people around me have felt the need to declare things like, “It must be nice to have such a perfect life” or “ughhhh I wish I could be get perfect grades like you”. After I had children it transformed into statements about how perfect my children were or how I was the perfect mother. It was always said without malice. It was meant more as praise to my parenting or the accomplishments I had worked so hard for, but it always rubbed me the wrong way. I would find myself getting defensive and upset with my “accuser”. Perfect, you think my life is perfect; if you only knew the depth of my self-hate and shame you would never utter the word perfect when talking about my life again.
What I was failing to realize was that I was the one causing those “perfection” comments. I was manufacturing this perfect porcelain picture of my life to put on display for others to see. My high school classmates didn’t see me weeping in a heap on the floor two days before a big assignment was due feeling like a failure. My mom friends didn’t know that I would cry in my husband’s arms at night because I felt like I was ruining my kids beyond repair. What I had failed to realize is that lack of perfect does not mean lack of worthiness. For too long I tied my identity and worthiness to other’s acceptance.
For so many years I presented myself in a way that made my life seem like a page out of a story book. Part of this plasticness came from a place of trying to protect myself from judgment. I wanted people to think that I had it all together; I didn’t want anyone to see me for the weak sad person that I really am when all the pretenses are peeled away. A bigger part of wearing the mask of perfection was that I felt that in order to be a “good” Christian I had to act, think and feel a certain way. I thought had to fit a cookie cutter mold where life was all rose gardens and perfect peace. That is all that I had ever seen portrayed in my short time as a believer in Christ. I had never had a deep enough relationship with a Christian to know that we are all a little messy and sin effects us all.
Lack of perfect does not mean lack of worthiness
With the exception of the last four years I have lived a double life. The way that other see me is just an illusion that I create when I am interacting with anyone other than my husband and children. This constant act that I had to put on drained me and made me feel unworthy and lonely. It propelled me into a depression and self-hate that I had never experienced.
The time between my first pregnancy and finding my current church family was a dark and horrible time in my marriage and my walk. I was falling apart at the seams with no girlfriend or mentor to turn to. My self inflicted loneliness became my prison. I was filled with bitterness and anger because of my circumstances which lead me to lash out at the one I felt had caused this circumstance, my husband. During those years I did irreparable damage to my marriage that I will regret until the day I leave this Earth. I tore my husband down and threatened divorce. By putting on the mask of perfection I had robbed myself of true intimacy with my husband. By the grace of God my marriage stayed together and my husband and I have begun to repair the damage done during that dark time. My desperate need to appear perfect to those around me had distanced me from experiencing a true Godly relationship with other believers and it almost sent my life in a completely different direction.
This journey of self discovery and acceptance is just beginning for me. I am still working hard to open myself up and let others in to see me for who I am: faults, failures and all! God is working in me to show me my value needs to be found in Him, not in the way other’s view me. This is what he wants for all of us!
My husband and I purchased our first home in the fall of 2012. This led us to a new location where we had to begin the painstaking search for a new church family. We tried every church within 20 miles of our new home and we had almost lost hope. On our last attempt at searching for a church family God opened the door to our current church home.
At this new church that image of a “perfect” Christian was shattered by some amazing women that God put in my life. These three women were so radically real and different from any Christian woman I had ever met! I connected with R. and S. through a Beth Moore bible study and I met M. when I joined the worship team. These women continue to be my unofficial mentors. When I grow up I want to be just like them: true to myself and accepting of who God made me to be.
These three women showed me through love and grace that I can embrace my identity in Christ. They “gave me permission” to be my weird, emotional slightly sarcastic self. These amazing women taught me there is beauty in brokenness that brings us to a place of full surrender to the Lord. God didn’t create all women to be perfectly submissive, delicate and subdued. Some of us are loud, silly and tattooed up and that is the beauty of Christ! We were all made in his image and He desires us to embrace our uniqueness and use it to bless those put in our path.
So this new year I am going to begin the work of getting to know myself. Will you join me in peeling off that mask of perfection and letting your weird out? Sweet sister let’s start digging deep and discovering the uniqueness that God hand crafted us with! Let others be blessed and challenged by you just by being the woman God created you to be.