Keeping it real….

I have a confession to make: I am not perfect. Most of my life I have compared myself to others, and guess what~ most of the time I am either critiquing others or critiquing myself because I somehow have fallen short.

Who you read about in these pages (me~tamarshope) is not a spiritual giant….nope, I am just a real, down-to-earth sinner saved by grace….a woman who still sometimes faces daily battles in her mind over things that should have been resolved years ago if one could have achieved perfection in this life!

The only perfect person to ever walk this earth was Jesus Christ 2000 years ago.

Sadly I have lived for so many years with the illusion of perfection. And I have spent so much of my life as the most imperfect perfectionist I know!!!

I knew life was imperfect, but I wanted my own little piece of it to be the most perfect it could be. But several years ago when the Lord called me to become authentic I realized that I had to stop trying to be perfect and start being real.

Isn’t it true that even if we strive to be perfect that it doesn’t stop the negative memories and feelings from surfacing? Through years of personal counseling, and sharing heart to heart with other victims of abuse I began to face the all-consuming issue of abuse. When I strived to be the perfect wife I learned that my quest for perfection actually alienated my husband, when I tried to be the perfect mother I found that I was controlling towards my children, when I strove to be perfect in my job, never allowing myself to fail, I burned out.

A quote from Ann Lamont says; “Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”

And from David M. Burns: “Remember that fear always lurks behind perfectionism. Confronting your fears and allowing yourself the right to be human can, paradoxically, make you a far happier and more productive person.”

As victims of abuse we often seek perfection in order to stop the pain or to avoid future pain. It doesn’t work. Seeking perfection just sets us up for failure, because no one is perfect. Instead I believe that as we seek to be real, it is much easier and far better for us. What a breath of fresh air when we choose to enjoy life as a journey rather than perfection as a destination.

Once we recognize our inability to live a perfect life, is there any value in admitting our failings or weaknesses to others? Should we not continue to hide them, what if admitting them causes those who are weaker in the faith to stumble?

 On the contrary~perhaps the presence of weakness in our lives leaves room for the power of God to shine through us by His abundant grace. 2Corintians 4:7 states: “We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves”

Paul is telling us here that God receives the maximum glory when others can clearly see that we, in our natural state, cannot measure up to His perfection. So perhaps it is as we minister to others they will know the blessings they receive could not possibly come from us, imperfect as we are, but only from God Himself!!

This doesn’t mean that I go around telling everyone all of my weaknesses. Certainly God would not want us to walk around telling everyone everything we have ever done wrong.  But I believe that we need balance…. Yet how does this concept translate into our everyday life? I can make the choice to be real in every situation. Not hiding my true weaknesses just to “save face”….. I know that when I have confessed my sins to a fellow Christian, a close friend, that in doing so I received healing. I found that when I’ve shared an area of weakness with a dear friend, and asked her to encourage me in that area, God has overwhelmed me with His grace as I stepped into that area of faith.

Grace – God loves and accepts me, accepts you, even in our weaknesses.

Admitting our weakness opens the way for others to help free us from the pitfalls we face every day. One of my favorite verses stirs up that heart of encouragement. Hebrews 3:13 “But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin”

We need the encouragement from those around us to help keep our thoughts focused on the positive things in our lives, so that we will not fall into a self-critical mindset.

If we continue to hide our weaknesses, and continue striving for perfection, we will miss the great encouragement, blessings and healing we can receive from others.

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