“Oh my goodness!… What is that?! Goodness gracious!” If you heard my screams, you would have thought that a purple orangatang fell in my lap. Raining purple orangutans? Not likely… Well then, what could possibly make a woman scream like that while sitting in the car with her 1st grader in the school parking lot?. I’ll tell you…my misconception of perfection.
Let me explain, each night before bed, my little ones clothes are laid out so they know exactly what to wear for the next day. School uniform, socks, underclothes, shoes and whatever else is needed for the day. Each morning the kids get up, in a regular routine of brushing teeth, combing hair, lotion, breakfast and out the door they go. On this one morning in question, my 7 year old Brian, decided to switch up his socks, with daddy’s work socks (mind you my husband is a size 14 shoe and my son is a size 1 ½ in little boys). My husband also has a dirty physical job, which sometimes leaves his socks dingy no matter how many times their washed. Brian some how managed to hide those big, bulky, dirty work socks under his school pants and they were not discovered until….I picked him up at the end of the day. I was mortified!
As I picked up Brian from school and gave him all the hugs and kisses a 7 year old could possibly handle. He then sat down in the car, I looked down and there I saw it. Those hideous socks! “Oh my goodness!… What is that?!…” I said. “Brian! What is that you have on? Did your teacher see those? Did you have gym and have to take off your shoes? Did you lift up your pants legs? What happened to the socks I had laid out for you this morning? Oh my, Brian your teacher is gonna think we don’t have enough money to buy you socks. When I picked you up, she must’ve thought I am not a good mom. The principal is gonna think the worst! Why would you wear those socks?” I think I said all of that in one breath. Although I had a smile on my face, deep down I could’ve fainted in distress ;o). Did I over react a bit? Yes. Well I wanted him to look perfect and he wasn’t. All I could think about was him in school throughout the day and teachers, students and other faculty noticing the big, bulky, dirty socks he had on….and of course, what they thought about it. “Mom, mom, calm down it’s ok. It doesn’t matter what they think. It doesn’t matter mom!” Brian said. And then reality hit me, I had a perfectionist relapse.
As I drove out of the school parking lot, I got a hard spiritual thump on the head. It’s not necessary that he look perfect. Kinda like the Holy Spirit shaking his head at me. A calm peace came over me and I said to myself and Brian. “That is right, it doesn’t matter”. I apologized to Brian and let him know no matter what he had on he was still handsome, smart and funny. We laughed it off and drove home. Deep down inside, I still felt God chastising me for once again (as I have done several times in the past) having a misconception of perfection.
“Therefore you shall be perfect just as your Father in heaven is perfect” Matt. 5:48
Perfection. Whenever, I heard Matt 5:48 quoted, I thought Jesus was saying that everything in my life had to be perfect. My home, my kids, my spouse and even myself. To me, that was one of the reasons that helped me justify my actions of acting “perfect”. Making sure every hair was in the “perfect” place before leaving the house, hovering over my husband at events to ensure he always said the “perfect” thing and I also enlisted in my kids my idea of perfection: “what happens in this house, stays in this house”. We don’t need people knowing our business. How draining that truly was. To always portray “perfect”. So what is Jesus really saying in Matthew 5?
“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies. Pray for those who treat you badly. If you do this, you will be children who are truly like your Father in heaven. He lets the sun rise for all people, whether they are good or bad. He sends rain to those who do right and to those who do wrong. If you love only those who love you, why should you get a reward for that? Even the tax collectors do that. And if you are nice only to your friends, you are no better than anyone else. Even the people who don’t know God are nice to their friends. What I am saying is that you must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Mat 5:43-48
Jesus speaks of the way we should treat one another, he speaks of love and being kind to our enemies. Then he speaks of being perfect. Being perfect just like our Father in heaven. That perfection that he speaks of is love. Perfection has nothing to do with what we look like or what we may try to portray. Yet, perfection has everything to do with our character and how we treat others. The MSG version puts it like this.
“In a word, what I’m saying is, Grow up. You’re kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you.” – Matthew 5:48 MSG
Ladies After Wisdom, all those years and all those times that I got perfection wrong, not only did I cause stress on myself, but my family as well. If you are a recovering perfectionist like myself, then you understand the struggle. The need to look perfect, be perfect and live perfect. Its draining and it’s time consuming. We ought not be concerned with what we have on the outside (Matthew 6:32), we need to be concerned with our character and the women we are becoming on the inside. Once I truly learned what Jesus was saying in the scripture, I felt a release and I felt free. Now I do have perfectionist flare ups every so often (such as the incident with my sons socks ;o). Yet, inside I know it’s better to build my character instead of my wardrobe. And I have a freedom in releasing myself from the opinions of others and focusing on what God thinks of me. And I pretty sure he doesn’t think less of me because my son had on those hideous socks ;o).
L.A.W., often times when we don’t have our inside right we try to portray that the outside is perfect. Because insecurity, bitterness, hate, envy and many other things may lie on the inside of us, we try to make and control our outside world since we are unhappy with our inside world. The unrealistic view of perfection has deep roots at times. Also there is pride tied in there somewhere as well. For healing, you must get your inside world right. Ask God to reveal to you where that false reality comes from and ask him to free you from it. Understand that God desires you to perfect like Him, but in love. Towards yourself and others. Being perfected in love keeps us away from sin, perfected in love helps us to lead a life of generosity towards others, perfected in love, matures us and completes us. We must steer away from sin, try as hard as we can and give our all in everything we do (Col 3:23). Yet, please note that if you can’t seem to keep the perfect home, or you don’t have the perfect spouse or your kids are far from perfect (like mine), it’s ok. Work on being perfected in love. So what does perfect look like? Someone who lives towards others the way God lives towards us. With generosity, mercy and grace. L.A.W., I love you. All is well.
P.S Below is a picture of the socks my little one was wearing in the car that day ;o)… lol
Read: Matthew 5
Affirmation: Day by day I am being perfected in love. Because being perfect is all about love
Prayer for Perfectionist: Father, it me again. I praise You and glorify You just for Who You are. I love You. Thank You for Your grace and mercy. Father, often I struggle with what being perfect really means. Reveal to me Father, what perfect means in Your eyes. And help me to embody that. Reveal to me, what may have caused me to stumble into what a worldly view of what perfect is. Give me a heart to please You and not man (Gal 1:10). Bless me to keep a humble spirit (James 4:10). Keep me focused on You and lifting up Your kingdom. Lead me to healing (Psalm 30:2).
In Jesus Name, Amen