Monday, August 25, 2008

Contradiction

Recently, I was reminded of the awkward girl who inhibited this body of mine more than 15 years ago. Yes, I’ll admit, her body was leaner and her stomach flat. Hardly, the body I see in the mirror today. But less recognizable to me is her personality. She barely spoke above a whisper or made eye contact with others. She walked stiffly, wore a veil of rejection and held a basket of fears.

Perhaps that girl reminds you of someone whose reflection flashed in the mirror of your youth. I think those character traits are shared by many female teenagers. And even for those of us who tightly closed the doors of the past, there are still reminders. Not necessarily painful memories, because true healing is the best pain reliever, but more like souvenirs from a different lifetime that hint toward progress and validation. Knowing who we were then helps us better identify who we are now.

However, for as much as I have changed for the better (and I owe that change to the grace of God), a few ragged remnants remain. I long for the day when I finally throw those scraps away. What a contradiction of character that I still hold them, unable to assign them to the trash heap in which they belong. One tattered fragment that still yields power is perfectionism. Granted, that power is waning, but it’s still present.

Frankly, it’s almost silly that it hangs around. Perfectionism is nothing more than a form of pride, even though I often mistake it for “caring about others." It’s perfectionism that causes me to put on the verbal boxing gloves and berate myself for a lapse in judgment.

Tonight, I was reminded that I’m going to mess up. I’m going to fall short. Despite my best intentions, I’m going to mildly offend some people and tick off others. Some of the mistakes I make will be huge and marred with selfishness. Others will be small, unintentional blunders like forgetting someone’s name or speaking out of turn.

What I’m learning is that while it is absolutely necessary to accept responsibility for my mistakes…even the innocent ones and especially the ones that hurt others…it also is absolutely necessary that I not dredge up those errors as a means of self-deprecation.

In other words, I’m forgiven. I’m forgiven even if the person I grieved chooses not to forgive me. I’m forgiven even if I choose not to forgive myself, so how silly of me to not do so?

Here’s something else. I’m loved. I’m loved even if the world calls me a fool and my friends abandon me. I’m loved the same amount whether I’m volunteering in a nursing home or cussing because I stubbed my toe.

And, here’s one more…I am understood. I’m understood even if someone looks at me like I’ve parachuted in from another planet. No, God doesn’t always agree with my thoughts and actions. But, He understands my heart. He made it. He speaks to it. He pieces it back together after it’s been wounded. And He holds it…He owns it…and He has made it whole.

“But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless. When I was a child, I spoke and thought and reasoned as a child. But when I grew up, I put away childish things. Now we see things imperfectly as in a cloudy mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.” -- I Cor. 13: 10-12 (NLT)





44 comments:

Emily said...

This was lovely. It's a struggle to look back on our awkward pasts, remembering the slights, the insecurities. I can't imagine why anyone would want to be under 30! Thank God He gets us through that stage of life in one piece. He lets our pasts be our pasts. He doesn't hold grudges, as we often do against ourselves. It amazes me how much He could teach us about growing up, if we just got our of our adolescent shells and listened...how much less painful being a teenager could be.

Enough deep thoughts for 2am. It's another beautiful piece of writing!

Shane Vander Hart said...

Awesome post. Amen, amen!

amycloud said...

Becoming Me, This is a great post. How often in my own life I find myself dealing with perfectionism. It is only through Jesus we can claim victory.

Minister Mamie L. Pack said...

It is amazing how we can be our hardest critique. Somewhere we create these expectations of who we believe a good mom, wife, etc. is and forget to just be who God created us to be. But when we get pass that and experience the FREEDOM of who we are in Him how wonderful it is. Thank you for sharing.

With blessings,

Minister Mamie L. Pack

Treasure Seeker said...

wow! you are so gifted and so transparent at the same time!

if you wrote a book, i would be first in line to purchase it...

have you written a book???

i just poured through your last 5 posts. you always touch my heart.

thanks for sharing the beauty of a life in Christ.

dorinda

Gretchen said...

Forgiven, loved, and understood. What a powerful God we serve. Angela, this is one of my favorite posts of yours ever. Of course, I'm sure next week, I'll have another favorite because the Holy Spirit moves your writing in incredibly touching ways. But truly...this is beautiful.

(((hugs)))dearly loved, forgiven and understood one. xxxooogretchen

Angie said...

Amen, Sister! Wonderful words. I hold onto the fact that He who began a good work in me will be faithful to complete it! He is the one stripping those tattered pieces away and conforming us into the image of Christ. Glory!

elizabeth embracing life said...

Intentions!!! God knows our heart. Friends and family may not always get us, but if our intentions are in the right place, the blunders are easy to overcome in ourselves as we can bask in knowing that the one true God is aware in dialed completely into our hearts of today and yesterday.

Tiffany said...

I loved, loved,loved this post. I can SO relate!

I have been missing my blog friends this past month and am glad to come back to such a great post.I have 6 more of your posts to get caught up on since I've been away.Thanks for visiting mine too!

Mari said...

Well said! Amen!

graceunbound said...

I love it. I'm with Gretchen, I think this is one of my favorites. You express it so beautifully, so simply.

Shannon said...

Beautiful post and great reminder! Thanks again!

Ms. Tee said...

This is a very sweet post. :) I can relate, and I 'm sure most women can, too.

luvmy4sons said...

Thanks for visitng my blog and for your kind words.

Amy Wyatt said...

This was such a great post. I could so identify with it!

~Red Tin Heart~ said...

Great post. I loved the scripture you had with your post.
xoxo Nita

Damselfly said...

It's so true.

I am glad a lot of that awkwardness is behind me, too -- probably not all of it, but let's hope most of it!

C. H. Green said...

Thanks for stopping by my place and commenting. I enjoy reading yours as well. I hope your week is going well and that God is blessing.

Julie said...

As usual your heart pours out through your words.

As usual your heart blesses mine.

Isn't it awesome that even our mistakes are covered by grace.

Hugs,
Julie

Carolina Mama said...

I could probably agree to that! :) Nice post and I love your blog. Thanks for stopping by mine. Have a blessed day.

Lisa writes... said...

A recovering perfectionist as well. Thanks for your honesty here.

BP said...

Thanks for writing. I hadn't thought of perfectionism as pride before. Good points.

Breanne Vasquez said...

This is so beautiful. Thanks for the reminder we are loved.

Jenileigh said...

This was great. Thank-you for these reminders.

Alana said...

We were so alike and we are so alike. Love the quote about perfectionism...that is something I have been discovering as well. Pride is not pretty.

Peggy said...

Thank you Angela for visiting me!
I'm not up to pare so if you'll excuse me for not reading today.
But I'll be back. I just wanted to tell you that I love that photo of you with your baby in your profile and header. All your family photos are touching but that one is the most precious and you look so happy! Blessings and hope you are doing well and adjusting GREAT!

stella g. said...

thank you for the reminder that i'm 'understood'. i don't often think of that. God is good, isn't He? ...and thanks for stopping by my blog. i love new blog-friends!

Kelsey S said...

Wow wonderful post!Amen!

kelsey
mysweetlife.org

sailorcross said...

I stopped by to thank you for stumbling upon my blog and leaving a very nice comment.

And I love what I have found!! I've read several of your posts and find them to be encouraging and inspiring.

I'll be back!!

Beth

Matthew said...

Great insight and acceptance. I think we all struggle with being happy in our skin.

Earthmommy said...

This was such a beautiful post. I think all too often, we beat ourselves up over our past mistakes, instead of letting them go. It's easy to confuse taking responsibility for things we do wrong and holding them over our own heads forever. Thanks for this refreshing reminder!

Irritable Mother said...

I love this one, Angela. Perfectionism. Yep, that's a struggle for me, too. I am so thankful to God for working to free me!

White Hot Magik said...

I think forgiving ourselves the mistakes we make is so hard. It is much easier to forgive someone else. Recently I have been really struggling with a negative internal dialogue. Every time I get up to sing in choir, I think you dont sing well enough for that. Organizing the women's group at church, I think I am not spiritual enough to lead that. Besides the fact that those thoughts are probably false, they are also selfish. They are centered on me and not Christ. Time to put away selfish thoughts indeed. Excellent post.

Natalie @ I AM (not) said...

He's pretty amazing. Really, amazing.

manda2177 said...

I liked so much of this. The part about making mistakes and maybe not being forgiven... Wow. That hit home. And I found the part on self forgiveness interesting.
I worte something on it once...check it out of you feel so inclined...

Many blessings-
Amanda
http://iammommy.typepad.com

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

What a great post! It is so true that perfectionism is a form of pride...pride manifests itself in so many ways and perfectionism was one of the ways it showed itself in my life.

The Lord took me overseas to break that one! I live in an environment where I struggle to talk, listen, and understand! I live as one dumb and deaf! Oh He is so good!!! I just can't begin to describe the transformation He has done in me!

Thanks for sharing this post; it is truly amazing to see what He makes out of our lumps of clay.

Karen said...

Hi there -- came by to say thanks for visiting my blog through Kimberly @ A Planting and thanks for your sweet comment about our little girl. I really enjoyed this post. By the way, I came across your blog several months ago through another blog/post about PPD. I so appreciate your honesty on such a difficult subject. I suffered a little PPD too and it's funny how people don't talk much about it. Anyway, nice to "meet" you!

Beautiful Craziness said...

Needed that. I am constantly needing to remind myself of these things as well...more so lately. So many times I wish I could just puch a button and make my brain stop thinking the way it is used to thinking. To think the way God thinks.

Joyfulsister said...

Hi my Sistah
I dropped by to say hello, I really enjoyed this post and it sure does bring back memories of my awkward and insecured days growing up, oh how far the Lord had brought me, to know I am beautiful in God's eyes inside and out because he created me, and like my one of my pastor used to say..God don't make junk! everything thing God has created is beautiful !!

Hugz Lorie

Kimberly said...

Oh, my. How this resonates with me! This is so much of what I was crying before the Lord about this morning. Perfectionism is a part of the old me that I have yet to throw in the trash myself. And it reared its ugly, ugly head yesterday. But this morning, I was able to come before my gracious Father, who is so amazingly slow to anger. And He indeed show me such love and grace and also encouraged me in the Word on how I can move forward.

Thank you for your honesty. You commented on my openness, but that is a quality you possess as well. And you always point us back to the Father. Thank you! You are a blessing!

Sarah@Life in the Parsonage said...

Isn't it amazing to see where we've come from and the growth that come!

Amy @ Park City Girl said...

Thanks for this post - I think so many of us are right here too. I know I am :)

Tales From the Eurovan said...

Loved this piece! I feel like I have so much to learn about the heart of God...who He is and who He is not. Thanks for writing!
Take care,
Julie

Rachael said...

I am trying not to cry. I so needed this. I also struggle with perfectionism and relate very much to being in a place where it doesn't have the hold on me it used to but it's still not all the way out either. The line where you said that "you are loved when you are volunteering at a nursing home or cussing because you stubbed your toe," almost made me lose it because that is it!!!!!! That is the revelation of God's love for us....unconditional. We just stop receiving it when we feel we haven't lived up to "The Standard" but it's still there...completely capable, prepared and willing to remain unchanged no matter what kind of performance we give. God bless you for this!!! I love your blog!

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