Saturday, August 18, 2012

50 Shades of Perfect

I'm not usually one to jump on the band wagon, but I've had a tugging at my heart lately to write about how we, especially women, strive to be perfect all the time. What I recently discovered (although, I think I already knew, I just remembered), is that perfection is dependent on the lens through which one looks. Perfection is dependent on perception. That's why I think the the title fits, and frankly, I couldn't think of one any catchier in light of the hottest selling book on Amazon.

When I was a child, my parents used to brag on me to my three younger brothers, urging them to behave. "Boys, why can't you be more like your sister?" my mom used to plead.

Honestly, those kinds of complimentary statements, whether they were telling me how good of a daughter I was or telling my brothers how they needed to behave like me, encouraged me to be an even better daughter and sister. Now in my adult years, I find myself taking encouraging statements like that to heart. It's like every time someone compliments me, it raises the standard of behavior at which I'm expected to maintain.

Why can't I just take a compliment and move on lightly with my life? Why do I feel like someone is constantly analyzing my behavior, and I just got lucky that they approved?

Now, I know it's impossible to be perfect, but I find myself striving to be so any way. Maybe you do too. It's strange how the different circumstances I'm in determine my definition of perfection and the means I need to be better at being perfect.

When I'm at work, perfect behavior means being efficient. It means making sales, checking off tasks on my to-do list, showing up early and leaving late. I want to be the girl who gets work done quick, who's eager for more, who has all the answers.

With my husband, perfection means never making him unhappy. It means cleaning the house with a smile and some bootylicioius boy shorts, and wearing them all the time. It means I never have fat days or gorge-on-chocolate-frozen-yogurt-days. It means I never get sick of motocross or getting dirty. It means my opinion is always the same as his. It means I want to spend just as much time with his side of the family as mine. It means that doing the house work after I get home from my full-time job and then paying the bills and then working out and then thinking about what to cook for dinner shouldn't stress me out.

When I'm out on my own, being perfect means being the prettiest in the room. It means having the funniest, wittiest little remarks and making everyone else laugh. It means showing up everyone else in the gym or getting ahead of that runner on the track. It means having the most friends. It means all the guys wish they could be with me.

These thoughts really do go through my head. Sometimes, I have moments like this, and I'm like, "What the heck? Amber, why are you thinking that? That's not what God wants."

I share these deep, sometimes dark, intimacies because I think this idea of perfection and more so, the idea that if we try hard enough, we might be able to achieve it, happens to more people than just me. Striving to be perfect is a root of envy, unhealthy competition, and jealousy. It causes us to compare ourselves to others.  It causes me to pin pictures of sexy girls with six-packs on Pinterest and creep on friends' Facebooks. These are some of my perceptions of perfection, but let me tell you, I know they aren't true. Some of these descriptions represent what the world says is perfect.

The only shade of perfection that matters is the blood of Jesus Christ. He's the only one that has or ever will reach perfection. These other shades are merely reflections of my unperfect human nature, for I am broken. I am broken because I am not made for this unperfect world. When I start to compare myself to others or feel like I have to be perfect, I must remind myself that I am wounded and broken and sinful because God needs me to be. He needs me to need him. If I ever was perfect, then I wouldn't need him. And, oh, how I don't ever want to be on my own in this life!

What are your worldly perceptions of perfection? What do you think God would have us do?


3 comments:

  1. Hi Amber,
    I struggle with some of the same perfectionist issues that you do and I'm sure many other women do also. I am my own worst critic. I look in the mirror and think to myself; "Is that older lady with the gray hair really me?" The signs of aging really bother me. Instead of worrying about those things I should be thanking God that at 62 I am healthy and strong and still working and active.
    When we strive for perfection we should compare ourselves to God and not to other humans. Comparing ourselves to Him is very humbling. We fall way short of perfection, but because of Jesus, when God looks at us He sees His Son's holiness. That is perfection! Praise be to God from whom all earthly and eternal blessings flow!

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    Replies
    1. Christine, thank you so much for taking the time to read this and then give your feedback and reflections. It's encouraging to hear that I'm not the only one who struggles with this kind of mindset. And you're right, when we compare ourselves to God instead of other people, we are humbled — and that's what it's all about.

      I hope you have a wonderful week. God bless you!

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