"I hold on to You for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post..." Psalm 63

Friday, July 2, 2010

The seed of perfectionism and the unforced rhythm of Grace...

"The seed of perfectionism resides within the oldest lie in the book - "You will be like God" {Gen 3:5} Ever since Eve ate the forbidden fruit, women have tried to "be like God" - controlling everything, measuring up to every standard, avoiding failure..." {Jerusha Clark}

Women get hung-up on perfectionism.  We strive daily to live up to every else's standards of what it is to measure up.  Look perfectly, parent perfectly, love your spouse perfectly, do your job perfectly, keep house perfectly, cook perfectly...the constant barrage of messages is, be anything you want, but BE PERFECT, too.  And, if I'm honest, I even feel like I get that message from God..."Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."  {Matt. 5:48}  Right...like I can do that.

If I stop to really think about the pressure the world around me puts on me to perform flawlessly I may end up curled in a ball in the fetal position...too paralyzed to even make an attempt to even exist.  Why do we do that to each other?  Seriously, the people who make those silent "demands" of us are imperfect people...we all are, you know....so why do we bother buying into it?  What makes me value someone else's opinion so much that I will break every bone in my straining body just to conform to their image of PERFECTION?  What makes any of us do it?

I've always looked at the verse in Matthew above as the reason I strive to do what is good and right...because God, too, demands my perfection.  Perfection of a different kind, but still, a command for reaching an ultimate unattainable goal.  I read this this morning:

"What Jesus asks us to do here is not strive for perfection but rather recognize that without Him, we cannot be holy, as the Father commands us to be."

I knew that.  I've learned it a million times and I really and truly believe it with all my heart.  But, I guess I have to relearn it daily.  Even though God commands me to be holy...perfect...before saying it, He knows I can't do it.  Which is His ultimate point...I CAN'T do it, because He wants to help do it through me.  What does the mean for me, really?  today? 

Well...my kids need me.  They depend on my being with it and reliable, they depend on my being who I say I am, they depend on my ability to support them and nurture them{even as teenagers, they still need this} The rest of my world depends on my being prompt and on time, on my following through on commitments...on my showing up physically and mentally.{and truth be told, on my being neat, clean, and somewhat presentable in my appearance}  Everybody wants something from me...but God wants to take the pressure off, and while asking that I attain a certain degree of rightness in my attitudes, actions and thoughts...what He really wants from me is to lay down my tools of the trade and let Him accomplish perfection in me. 

 Until I stop all my striving, because I think that's what everyone expects, I cannot find rest.  Until I stop looking to others ideals and patterns, I cannot find contentment.  Everyone else's idea of what perfectionism is changes...it's relative to whomever is speaking it.  Only God's view stays the same.  It hasn't changed in centuries...we change by the minute.  God's view of perfectionism is this:  "Do what is right, LOVE everyone around you without exception, seek wisdom from ME, look to ME for your answers, stop trying to work your way to MY approval{or anyone else's, for that matter}...and just BE.

I'll never measure up...
but I'm ok with that...

"Are you tired?  Worn out?  Burned out...?  Come to me.  Get away with me and you'll recover your life. 
I'll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me-watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of Grace.  I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. 
Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." 
Matt. 11:28-30

I still have to live in this world.  I still have to get up out of my chair and perform my daily duties...
but it really is possible to perform them and be at rest all at the same time. 
I'm banking on it...and so is everyone around me.


Mrs.Rabe said...

Excellent Terri!

It is so true that people expect behavior out of others that they don't require of themselves! All we need to do is to grip His hand tightly and walk in His ways. His burden is easy and His yoke is light!

So much easier than worrying about pleasing others - you can never please everyone all the time! So much easier to please The ONE who is worthy...

Persuaded said...

Hey! I'm a single mom too!

And I also struggle mightily with perfectionism... sigh... thankfully (as you quoted) His burden is easy and His yoke is light

jabi said...

omg - Terri - this is what I just needed to hear (read).. Thank you so much :) You are so incredibly warm person, and I just love to learn from you. Let us hope that someday I could be a mom like you. Thank you so much. Your jabi.

consume me... said...

so sweet, jabi! you will be a wonderful mommy!!!

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