Monday, May 9, 2011
Giving Up Perfect Can Be Contagious
I've noticed that when I do reveal a problem, a need, a shortcoming or even an unmet longing that others are likely to do the same. I mistakenly assumed that others would not like me if I wasn't perfect, if I had needs. but the exact opposite has been true. This lie left me guarded and a bit robotic. It created a brokeness in me that didn't let others get to know me because I was fearful that my inadequadies would turn them away. Better to keep people at arms length than to feel judged. Better to reject before I could be rejected. It wasn't a conscious thought, but the result was that there were few people who knew my struggles. None who knew the extent of my pain.
Healing only comes when we admit those imperfections, weaknesses and disappointments in safe relationship. As we let the mask of 'perfection' slip, we are healed by commraderie and accountability. Being real with others allows us to be genuinely accepted by others which reflects God's unconditional love. We know in our minds that God loves completely, but I am able to experience that love best in this world by walking closely with others.
An added bonus to authentic living is that others join in. When you peek out of your mask and let the real you show, others let down their masks, too. This is the place where true frienship happens. Authentic living gives space for intimacy, to be truly known so that can be acepted for our true selves. We can then encourage each other, foster growth and nuture healing. What seemed like such a big deal in the darkness as a secret may lose much of its power when brought into the light and shared. These days I often laugh at myself when I take my imperfections too seriously
My own shortcomings allow others to reveal theirs and authentic acceptance is possible. The only way this happens is when someone lets go of their 'perfect,' drops the image and admits it's been a rough day. Or I'm frustrated with my children. Or my finances are in bad shape. Or my marriage is tougher than I thought. Or I'm having doubts about God. When one person lets down that guard, others often reciprocate. In this way, authenticity is contageous.
I'm talking about the standards we impose or this world presents. Obviously the Word of God gives us standards which must not be compromised and for which we must be striving to attain. And yet even in His standards we will never be perfect. We cannot. Healing of those imperfections also takes place in relationship. Only in Christ are those failings wiped away and the gaps of our shortcomings filled in with the holiness of Jesus. I often remember the verse where it is said of God that "He remembers we are but dust..." It is spoken in the context of our God being slow to anger, gracious, forgiving and compassionate, abounding in great love toward His children.
Do you find yourself slipping into the anxieties of performance based living? Have you changed your mind about presenting the perfect 'face' to those at church, home or work? What about your children, do you impose a perfectionistic acceptance on their behavior? Do you feel like you are still paying for mistakes long forgiven? How can you let that go?
"The LORD is compassionate and gracious,
slow to anger, abounding in love.
He will not always accuse,
nor will he harbor his anger forever;
he does not treat us as our sins deserve
or repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
As a father has compassion on his children,
so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him;
for he knows how we are formed,
he remembers that we are dust. "
Psalms 103: 8-14