Archive | April 2012

Little Miss Perfect

Life has been busy lately. I’m so sorry that I haven’t posted in a while, and tonight’s will be brief as well.

If there’s anything that has continually been on my mind these last few days, it is the idea of perfection. I, in my codependence, have a tendency to attempt perfection. If I fail to achieve the impossible, I give up. I’ve had a lot of giving up in my life. These past few days, though, as I begin to let go of the need to please, I am seeing just how stressed out I was.

Never in life will something be perfect. It can be close, but there will always be a flaw. Whether it is the mess in my car or the crumbs on the floor or the 86 on a test, something will always be just so far from perfect. Whatever it is does not define who I am, though. Those crumbs are not screaming out my laziness (although their presence might be a motivator for me not to be lazy). They might be there even if I swept every 30 minutes because I have a preschooler. The mess in my car might be there regardless because I’m full-time, going to school, and driving all over the place. The mess can be cleaned with simple habits, but the mess itself does not make me a horrible person. A bad grade on a test is just that: a bad grade. Not getting a 100 doesn’t make me a failure. It just means I didn’t fully understand the material. All of these don’t define me, but I’ve been living like they do.

Most of these perceptions come from my childhood. Regardless offhand truth or not, I believed that I had to reach certain standards in order to be loved. I had to get 90s and above on all my grades. (If I didn’t, it was that I wasn’t living Up to my full potential. This equalled failure.) I had to be involved in multiple sports and at least two extracurricular activities, and I had to be good at them. I had to get along well with others. I had to be a good Christian. I had to have a bible study and go on mission trips and be pious and gentle and quiet. I was none of those things. It ate me up.

I am still incredibly insecure about those areas. My favorite phrase, tithe annoyance of my friends and coworkers, is “I’m sorry.” however, I am learning to rely on the love of God rather than the love of those around me. There is something calming about the thought that He knows everything about me and was still willing to die for me. On top of that, how can imperfect people perfectly love anyone? They can’t.

Tomorrow, I’ll go to school and probably get answers wrong. I’ll go to the doctor with my son to see why he’s sick. I’ll go to work and ring some things in wrong, forget to bring refills, and drop a cup or two. At least five times tomorrow, I’ll say something embarrassing or dumb and wish I could take it back. Tomorrow, though, those things won’t weigh me down all day long. They will happen and I will move on. Perfection is something to strive for, not to die for. I want to be like Christ; I know I can’t BE Christ. Imperfection is the twist that reminds me just how much I need him. I can’t do anything on my own, and I’m finally ok with that.

~day 5

Crippled

Today was a relatively good day, but for the wrong reasons. Have you ever noticed how life smooths out when you stop fighting the current? Today was one of those “this fight is over,” “retreat and recoup,” enemy victory dance kinda days.

I honestly am not sure what to write about it. I’m not feeling entirely comfortable even admitting that I made such a foolish choice, but I promised not to hide behind a mask. Masks are so much more comfortable than the reality of this shame. Th perfectionist and good Christian girl inside me is hiding in a dark corner.

That’s the real reason today has been calm. What need does the Enemy have of targeting me when I’m doing an even better job of destroying myself. The technicality of my choice was ok, but the circumstances were not. Everything in me is overwhelmed by shame and guilt and fear. How could I, someone who knows the warning signs and knows the Bible, do something like this? How can I face my Father? There is no way I’m a decent representative of my faith. If people knew what a hypocrite I was…

I don’t have a solution to these thoughts just yet, other than to lay them out before you and before Jesus. As cheesy as it sounds, I don’t know of any other way. My stifling those fears has only led to harm in the past so this is the last option I have. I am afraid, though. I’m headed into a throne room covered in mud and grime where hundreds of people and my Family will watch me walk the walk of shame. I’m not entirely sure I can handle it. Still, here I go. Tonight, as much as I’d prefer to avoid the conversation, I’ll talk to God. If a solder is defeated and wounded in battle, he runs to his commanding officer, not away from him. If I keep that mentality, maybe tonight won’t be so difficult to face.

~day 3

Lilies of the Field

I have days where I can hardly breathe for the anxiety of life. Today has been one of those days. I couldn’t and can’t seem to shake the feeling of failure. Everything that should be working is breaking. Everything I should be doing I’m not. The relationships I shouldn’t have to worry about are collapsing and inverting, and I am so tired… It has been one of my “difficult days.”

I decided to take the long way home from school this morning. I’d picked up my son from my mom and felt about ready to explode. There wasn’t anything specific I could pinpoint as the source of my frustration. I just…was. And so, I drove. I didn’t know where the road would go, but it ended somewhere. The Texas hill country rolled past my window, the trees green for once. Everything outside my body was calm. My son sat in the back smiling out at the world. The world smiled back at him. The weather was beautiful, wispy clouds dusting a deep blue sky, fields of wild flowers and mesquite trees bending in the breeze, oaks arching gnarled arms over the road to make a living tunnel. Somehow amidst all that beauty, I found myself wanting to cry.

Life has not been easy, but as one Christian song says, “You must think I’m strong to give me this.” Just as I began to give up, I pulled up to a stop light and looked out my window. A bunch of wild flowers grew on the median next to me, their purple petals open to the sun. I swear, it was like a voice whispered in my ear, “If I promised to take care of the flowers, how much more will I take care of you?”

How apt an illustration! I used to look at flowers and the “lilies of the field” analogy with a superior attitude. “They’re helpless but pretty, and I’m so much better than they are. God has to take care of me, because I’m made in His image and they’re not.” Today, I realized I had it backwards. The flowers, for all their lack of soul, are not lesser than I. We are both equally His creation. A flower faces just as many upsets as we do in our lives. They must fight to establish a root, must hope for rain, must survive being stepped on and eaten and pulled up. We admire flowers for their beauty and miss the bigger picture. My Father doesn’t just clothe  the wild flowers. He provides everything for them and loves them as a creator his creation. If He created each flower and each petal personally, how much more must He love us who have the capacity to return His love?

I am not better than a flower because I have a brain. I am better because I can voice the gratitude I have and understand the blessings I am given. I face the same things as the flower: I have to establish “roots” throughout childhood and into adulthood. I have to hope for “rain” in the form of job stability. I have to survive being stepped on by others and devoured by temptation and uprooted by relational issues. Unlike the flower though, I have hope for something past the end of my life. My Father has promised to love me and protect me regardless of the things life throws my way. Today has been difficult, but it’s just the beginning and I’m not alone.  I have Someone who has promised to meet all of my needs, just as He’s promised to meet those of the wild flowers.

~Day 2

The Journey of Grace

Welcome! My name is Grace, and this blog is a diary of my struggles, my pain, and the scars I am trying to over-come.

Through the years, I’ve noticed that very few women really discuss the feelings and fears they have, especially in the Christian sphere. I am no expert on the human psyche, but I know personally this taboo on emotions has left its toll on me. I have been afraid in the past to express my thoughts and desires, and many of them I still struggle to equate. In an attempt to figure out my own mind and to begin to wear down that taboo, I’ve decided to start an online diary.

I will do my best to write every day, and I will be completely honest. Grace is not my real name, but I want this diary to be completely free of any of the trappings of outside relationships. If you figure out my true identity (like Superman), please keep it to yourself. While I will try my best not to lay blame on anyone or vent in any of my diary entries, I know that those close to me can easily misinterpret and/or be hurt by written words.

Life is one never-ending roller coaster ride. We have fantastic ups and terrible downs. We are spun upside-down and flung backwards. We get adrenaline rushes and feel like throwing up. Unlike roller coasters, life is never talked about “after” the ride. Especially as women, there is this fear that imperfection equals failure. If we don’t bathe our child every night, we are a failure of a mother. If we don’t cook dinner every night, we are a failure of a wife. If we don’t get good grades or stay in shape or have cute clothes, we fall short. Instead of admitting our faults, we hide behind these masks of perfection, trying to keep everyone from knowing our dirty little secrets.

Well, here’re my dirty little secrets. I came from a dysfunctional home. I am a perfectionist to the extreme that my decisions in life are black and white, right or wrong. I was an unwed mother and had my son at 19. I was married at 20. I am the embodiment of the codependency cycle: “can’t live with ’em, can’t live without ’em.” I have become manipulative and bitter and have anger issues. I have a superiority complex when it comes to academics. I am a drama queen and an attention hog. I rely on the approval of others. I struggle with self-injury. I struggle with self-worth.

And, I am a princess in the greatest Kingdom on Earth. My Father is the mightiest person ever known, so famous that even those who have never heard His name know something about Him. My Brother and best friend is my salvation and my protector. He has held me and kept me strong through every dark time, and He has refused to let me forget that I am royalty. My Counselor is the wisest person in history, sought after by judges and kings and presidents alike. I have been adopted into a family unlike any other, and I refuse to let my secrets hold me back any longer.

I am tired of living in fear. I am tired of being self-conscious and of striving for perfection. I hate having my past actions be the stigma that follows me into the future (especially when it’s primarily self-imposed). Most of all, I am tired of living behind a mask. Some of you may question why I use a false name, then. Consider this a modern-day black-out interview. My voice is disguised and my face invisible to protect those I love from the filth of my soul. Some day soon, I hope to be able to share this journal with them, but I am not yet strong enough for that. I have a long way to go before all those secrets and all the fears are given up.

If you care to join me on this journey of self-discovery and confession, please do. I hope that my struggles and pain can help at least one other person, and I hope to be a proper ambassador for my Father. Like any Daddy’s girl, I hope to do Him proud.

~Day 1