“Because God’s Love is Perfect, I Don’t Have to Be”
Before I got past even this chapter’s title in a book I’m currently reading (A Confident Heart by Renee Swope), I knew it would likely have things to say to inform my 31 Days of Imperfection blog posts. Within a couple pages I was overwhelmed by how much the author connected to where my heart was on this month-long journey. I hope you enjoy a few quotes from that chapter as much as I did:
“We don’t want to be high maintenance, right? We surely don’t want people to see the peeling paint of our imperfections and the rotting attitudes in the wood boards of our minds. It’s embarrassing for people to see our flaws and failures, so we work hard to look like we’re doing fine from a distance. Sometimes I think we tell people we’re fine even when we’re not, because we want to be fine. Or we hope by saying we are fine, eventually we will be.”
Oh, how I know this path in my life… we want to be fine… we long for it… and maybe, just maybe, if we act like it enough, we can even trick ourselves into thinking we’re fine. The hard part is that sometimes we actually succeed in doing just that, and that is the most dangerous place of all to be.
“What we need is someone who will pursue us and accept us even though we’re flawed. Yet most of us doubt anyone would ever stick with us if we let them get too close. So we put up walls and hide our struggles, even from God, hoping we’ll convince Him and everyone else that we’re fine. … Slowly we begin to believe that we have to be perfect to be loved and accepted. We know we never will be-but we’ll die trying, won’t we? For much of my life, I put expectations of perfection on myself because I thought if I let others see my weaknesses and insecurities they would think less of me…”
I don’t think Renee is alone in believing that lie. Don’t we all have a part of us that believes that if we let others get close, they’ll walk away… if we let others really see, they’ll think less of us. Oh, how many times we struggle, perhaps even daily, with these lies from the devil and in the process block out the very community we need in those times when we’re not fine. We live in that tension of longing for someone to notice that we’re in pain, but doing whatever we can in our power to keep from being seen.
“Oh how I longed for someone to see past the exterior façade and look into the secret places of my heart. I wanted to be known and loved for who I was. Yet if I let my guard down, I was afraid someone would say I was too sensitive or too serious.”
This makes me think of pastor’s sermon this last weekend, especially the part about how we let what other people think of us run our lives instead of letting our actions flow out of who we are in Christ. We fear what others think or will think and so we fall deeper into isolation which never helps the original situation of why we weren’t “okay” to begin with. You see, God created us to be in community and relationship… with each other and with him. We need each other. We need to hear each other’s stories. Most of all, we need to remember that we have a God whose love truly is perfect and because of that, we don’t have to be.