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)