"Tired of Trying to Be Perfect"
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
Psalm 139:13-14 (NIV)
I’ve always struggled with perfectionism — in every stage of life. When I was young, I strove for excellent grades. As I grew older, I wanted to be perfect in my friendships. Not only did I want to be the best for my students when I became a teacher, I aspired to earn awards and accolades, too.
If you’re also a perfectionist, I bet you can relate.
My losing battle with perfectionism was at its worst after I had my first baby. As a resource junkie, I was sure I could research my way to being the perfect mom. My friends loaded me up with their recommended parenting books and being a voracious reader, I dug right in.
Soon, I envisioned two very different supermoms in my mind. The first was Earth Mama. She wore a bohemian skirt, chandelier earrings and a quilted baby sling as her predominant and most important accessory. Earth Mama cheerfully flexed with her baby’s every need, cuddling up together in the family bed at night or confidently supplying her — ahem — natural sources of nourishment at a moment’s notice no matter where they were — home, a restaurant or in the middle of a department store.
Then there was supermom number two, Right-on-Schedule Mom. This mom wore chinos and a dry-cleaned shirt that was always unwrinkled because she only picked up her baby when it was time — time for a meal, time for a nap or playtime. Right-on-Schedule Mom’s baby slept through the night at two weeks in her own snazzy crib and sat up before anyone else in their Mommy and Me group. Any natural sources of nourishment were tented in public and permanently covered at precisely one year.
How to choose? How to choose? Each model seemed perfect in its own way, and I vacillated between them until I ended up confused, worn-out and frustrated.
Whether you’re married, single, a career woman, or a domestic manager, creating an image of perfection is a never-ending, exhausting activity. Because the measure of perfection keeps shifting, the stage we’re in and the crowd we follow determines the units on our current measuring stick.
The perfect sorority girl tries to live up to a very different image than the perfect athlete.
The perfect socialite works to have an image that is in stark contrast to the perfect revolutionary.
The perfect preppy disdains the perfect punk.
Not only do these personas divide women instead of creating relationships and community, these perfect images start a cycle of never-ending shape-shifting.
Maybe you’re the career woman who works more hours than you’d like to gain the approval of your team.
Maybe you’re the single woman who accepts blind dates your married friends arrange even though you’re content in your singleness.
But God didn’t create us to be shape-shifters. God crafted us to reflect His image, not create our own.
As a young mom, I finally realized that I was trying to figure out the wrong thing. I didn’t need to choose an ideal supermom. I needed to allow God to show me how to be the best mom to the baby He had given me.
Living fully in the knowledge that we are one of God’s wondrous works is our greatest praise to Him! It’s in becoming our truest, God-created selves, reflecting His image in the gifts and wiring He’s given us, that we’ll connect most deeply with our Creator and with others.
Lord, I’m worn out from trying to be perfect. I long to walk in freedom and to become the woman you intended me to be when You wove me together. Help me be authentic, instead of shape-shifting to please others or to attain an impossible image. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Genesis 1:27, "So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them." (NIV)
Genesis 1:31, "God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning — the sixth day." (NIV)