Breaking the image of perfection
Today, I’m writing to tell you about the illusion of perfection.
I’m not perfect. I am afraid to admit that I do not have as strong of a faith as I let on at times. I often let my list of faults, fears, and “not-good-enough’s” become the premise on which I talk to God. The question repeatedly prods it’s way into my mind- “as a blogger for a ministry, shouldn’t I have my life more put together?”
But I’m approaching the topic with the wrong attitude. The thing is, it’s not about me. I’m just as human as the next person. We all are broken— the person next to you at a stoplight, the barista who brewed your coffee this morning, the news anchor on TV, and yes…even Taylor Swift. What’s the use in trying to fool each other?
The illusion of being okay and handling everything life throws at you is not worth the pain of keeping the act up. Upholding a certain image by kicking your problems to the curb like yesterday’s trash still leaves you picking them up later when no one is looking. Does the opinion of people you’re working so hard to impress hold any value if it’s not your true self they’re evaluating?
Your identity doesn’t come from your title or job position. Your identity does not come from what you post about on social media. Your identity comes from the Lord alone. And it’s tough to live actively as if it’s true — I say these things yet forget day after day. Sometimes it feels like we’ve been set up to fail.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
Don’t beat yourself up. You are God’s masterpiece. Brokenness is part of the experience of following Jesus, not a wrong turn or a fault. It’s a step further into receiving love. And guess what? Jesus faced the same human fears we experience and leaned on God for strength to fight the usual, easier reaction. We are all broken, we all fall short, and we all have a God who loves us in the midst of our bullet-point list of flaws. Our insecurities are exactly where we get to know Him through receiving His unrelenting love.
Those around you need the truest version of you on all ends of the spectrum.
With a tendency to hide in my flaws I end up isolated. I don’t answer texts, I turn down plans, and avoid important conversations. Step by step though, the Lord presents opportunities for me to accept love rather than choose fear. While thinking through the effects of fear on relationships, I received a phone call from a friend who genuinely wanted to talk and know how I was doing. That phone call eased me back into the practice of getting worries out of my head and out into reality.
It’s a scary thing, admitting that you aren’t okay. But it can also be one of the most comforting feelings. In moments of honesty we open ourselves to experience love more fully.
After receiving the phone call, I texted back a friend I had been wary to be honest with. And her response was so overwhelmingly filled with love. It was so comforting that I don’t want to paraphrase, just share the same words she sent me in hopes they can bring you peace:
“You need to talk about it. Your problems are not a burden at all. We're all human and were asked to carry our own crosses but that doesn't mean Christ expected us to carry them alone. For goodness sake, our Lord needed Simon of Cyrene to help him carry his cross and He's the Son of God. I didn't want to burden people with my problems so I buried it all inside…but then eventually you're going to break. You talking about your struggles doesn't make you weak, it makes you stronger. It makes you vulnerable. It shows that you trust another human being with your heart. And if it's hard to share that with me or anyone else, share it with our Lord. He's waiting for you to run into His arms. Mother Theresa once said, "Suffering is nothing but the kiss of Jesus. That you have gotten so close to the cross that He can lean down and kiss you." And John Paul II once said, "suffering is redemptive in part because it reveals to man that he is not God, rendering him more receptive to the divine." So much goodness can come out of suffering if we let it. That's what I've learned going through the past couple of months.”
A couple years ago I went to hear Dave Barnes speak at Belmont and something he said has stuck with me ever since. He said “the best way to love others is by being yourself.”
We need each other and there’s no way around it. We need the struggling, crying, tough conversations, apologies, and the ability to say “you know what? I haven’t been okay lately. Life is hard.” Shattering your front, inviting people into the struggle, and being honest is an act of loving others. Who would have thought?
Make it a priority to love today- whether that means asking the right questions and providing a listening ear or being honest about a current fear in your life. Be yourself and let the love follow.
- Molly // @molly.grunik