Outside perfectionism hides a lot of inside pain.
How true I have found that statement to be. I was reflecting the other day on my childhood, the good and the bad. I was definitely a tom-boy and loved to spend my days climbing trees, exploring the pastures, mucking out the stalls in the barn, basically doing whatever it took to avoid the kitchen and helping in the house.
I was much more comfortable being outdoors than indoors. Looking back I realize that at my core I was a fairy tale romantic. I loved nothing better than being on a horse, galloping bareback through the fields, basking in the sun-kissed days of summer.
Funny how when I look back I can see that part of me was a happy go lucky, free spirited kind of child/young girl….yet there was the other part that was a worrier, an emotional child/girl that sought approval from everyone around her. In many ways I think it was normal, because as kids and teenagers we are sorting out our place in the world, where we fit in etc. But I also know that a lot of it was me trying to put a band aid over all that wasn’t perfect in my life.
I believed that if I could be and do what everyone wanted then I could draw attention away from myself, even forget the tension and anxiety that engulfed my home and my life. My aunt worked hard both at home and outside the home. She ran her own business for over 20 years. She also kept an immaculate home, and was gifted in hospitality too.
Somewhere in my growing up years I came to believe that I could do it all too~no matter the cost….if she wore the superwoman cape then I could wear one too…and if I put myself first then I was selfish… I had to be perfect in all areas.
Trust no one, do everything myself, become self reliant not needing anyone.
But over the years as I’ve walked with my Savior I’ve learned to slowly let go of my perfectionistic tendencies….journaling allowed me to put a voice to my hurt, my wounds, my pent up anger and my distrust….learning also to let those in my life now offer their support….I’ve learned to reclaim the happy memories…but most of all I’ve had to confess my self reliant cover up sin to God. I’ve had to come clean about my failure to believe in and trust God 100 %, learning to co-labor with Him in all areas of my life.
I have learned, and am still learning, to be honest with myself and with God. And that even though the world praises self-sufficiency it can become a prideful trap and ensnare you. I’ve had to work at understanding how I cope with things I can’t control and the effect it has on me. I’ve had to work at forgiveness and most importantly vulnerability and trust.
Romans 10:11 says: “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”
“I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, You will never enter the Kingdom of heaven”. (Matthew 18:3)
Jesus wants us to be without pretense, especially when we come to him in prayer. Why do we often try to be something we aren’t? Why do we spend so much energy trying to be spiritual, to get it right? We know we don’t have to clean up our act in order to become a Christian, yet when it comes to talking with our Lord and walking with Him we forget that. As adults we try to fix ourselves, to become perfect.
In contrast, Jesus wants us to come to him like little children, just as we are. In fact we need to come to Him~ messy!!
It’s sad that we are often so busy and overwhelmed, striving to be perfect, that when we slow down to pray, to talk with our Father we don’t know where our hearts are.
Yet, when I come to God and take off my spiritual mask, letting the real me meet the real God~ I find Him…
Today my perfectionism is more of a shadow. Although it sometimes still looms near it doesn’t overshadow my life like it once did. I’ve had to at times “force” myself not to be “perfect”…going out in public with hardly any make-up on, or giving myself permission to have a junk drawer. (You perfectionist control mongers know what I mean!!)
And as I sit and write this I confess that my kitchen is a mess, dishes need to be put in the dishwasher, cups and plates from last night are scattered all over the countertops-evidence of family and fun times….toys are strew from one end of the house to the other, again evidence of precious grandchildren having been here…and as I sip the last of my coffee this morning I think perhaps I will leave the mess a bit longer and head outdoors for a walk…funny how underneath the striving and the grown-up world~our childhood actions never quite leave us…its sometimes just a matter of becoming like little children again….learning to play and have fun…
I’m off for my walk now-the kitchen can wait….