Holley Gerth's blog has been focused on her new book You Are Loved No Matter What. This week her writing prompt asks this question,
Where do you think pressure to be perfect comes from and what can we do about it?
Check out her new book and posts at Holley Gerth.
Here's my attempt to answer that question for me.
I stand there in a layer of teal chiffon, sweet heart neckline revealing a little too much of my shoulders. I fidget in the fluorescent light and I do not like what I see. At all. My shoulders look like a line backer and my mama chest now looks like I need a push up. I wince.
"This is the dress I really like", she says and I nod.
But I can tell by the look in her eyes that she doesn't like what she sees. Her vision didn't match reality with me. She decides against the dress but says a cutting comment about how it would look okay on some of the other bridesmaids but not me. Because I'm a mama three times over and I don't look the same.
I agree that I shouldn't wear that dress, but the idea of ruining her plan...it hurts.
Maybe the idea of perfection unattained takes the form of a parent who relentlessly demands scholastic success or sports team perfection. We see it all the time. Parents red faced and frustrated over C's and a child that doesn't have an interest in sports or can't quite get the hang of anything.
Have you let the idea of perfectionism created by the expectations of others shape your mind, form your heart? I know I have. Most of the time we are living out these forms set in place in childhood and reiterated over and over again. So deeply ingrained that they are just as much a part of how we see ourselves or don't as the truth. And they lie to us. About what is really important and who we really are.
I really believe now that the idea of perfectionism is really an avenue of self obsession and self destruction. Taking ourselves too seriously and treating ourselves too harshly. Isolating us from others by a veil of superiority or inferiority. And when that veil rips we come crashing down. Deflated. Defeated.
It is okay to let yourself off the hook. You know the next time someone's ideas for you can never match your reality and yet you so want it to.
It's really okay that I couldn't pull that dress off and honestly it's okay that the words were said. It's important to able to discard the perfectionistic expectations of others and my own self obsession. Maybe next time I can laugh and say, "You know you're right. I am a mother now and it's okay. I guess I'll have to look for a new dress." That has a way of diffusing a situation. And perhaps the next time you are being too hard on someone or yourself or expecting too much, someone will beam you back to our real reality.
That we all are utterly flawed and yet utterly loved by Jesus who is our only true perfection. Our desire for a perfect something is really just our deepest desire for Him.