Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Yes to God" Chapter 2, Ms. Perfection

This was one of the paragraphs that I had in my previous post of the day.

I feel like crying and that the “I am not good enough” thought permeates everything. Being a wife, being a mom, being a friend, being a homemaker, being a Christian. I know each day is full of it’s own challenges. I know that God is with me and helping me. I know it. I am trying to cling to that truth that He will never leave me nor forsake me. No matter what my feelings might be telling me.

Even though I hadn’t started this post on the Ms. Perfection chapter of Lisa Whittle’s book “Behind Those Eyes,” I started talking about it this morning. Probably because the book was fresh on my mind, as I finished it last night.

When I look at the different ways perfectionism can run it’s course in our lives, I find myself in each one. Putting up the perfect little family mask, the perfect wife mask, the perfect mom mask, the perfect all-together mask.

I identified immediately with Tiffany. I am such a people pleaser, and want to avoid confrontation in such a huge way, that I will do just about anything to keep others happy. As Tiffany said, “My self-worth depended on everyone else’s approval of me.” Even if they have hurt me deeply, I usually don’t let them know, because it would cause a conflict. I mean, what if they got upset because I told them I was hurt? I have had that happen before.

Someone close to me hurt me very deeply this past year. We were working through it, but then I was told by this person that we should never talk about it again. So I never brought it up with them again. I just had to pretend that everything was ok, and the situation was closed and it was fine, and I was ok.

But I wasn’t. No matter the front I put up. As I started working through the issue in my counseling, the pain got worse and worse. Finally we hit the situation pretty hard in counseling, and that weekend, I fell apart. There was no more pretending everything was perfect. I was so depressed, from having to hold it in, that I was suicidal. When I told this person what had gotten me to this point, I was told, “You’re still dealing with THAT?!”

I finally was able to forgive this person… if you can believe it, only a week later. But it took some intensive counseling on my part, and some forgiveness from the other person first, before I was able to finally forgive them from the heart and let it go. (I had already made the commitment in my head, the choice, to forgive, but my emotions hadn’t followed yet up to that point.)

All my life though I have tried to be the person everyone wanted me to be. Get the best grades to bring home to my folks, and ended up driving myself more than they ever drove me. The thing that kept me driving for good grades wasn’t anything my parents ever did or said, really. It was more my remembering hearing the fights between my parents and my brother as they were trying to get him to do his homework, and study for tests and such, when he was having a bad year in school. Because I hate any unpleasantness so much, I vowed that I would never give them cause to react in that way to me about my grades and performance in school.

That was just the start for me. It got worse all through college, and it got bad especially in areas for me that were my strengths. There I would really pressure myself. I had, and still have such insecurity in my abilities. I would push myself to sing better, play the piano better, write better, read more, memorize more scripture, etc. I never felt I measured up to the standard. But the standard set by WHO? Me? God? I didn’t know, but I never made it. I could never jump over that bar. I was constantly knocking it down. Each time I thought I had finally gotten to the point where I could get over it, I found it moved up higher, and I would come crashing down.

I think Lisa captured all this in her last paragraph of the chapter.
“We want to be the perfect wife, perfect mother, and perfect woman all wrapped up in a perfect package. Even though we know in our hearts that it’s just not possible, we still strive for perfection. And just like Tiffany, it is killing our souls and hearts in the process.”
You see, for the last 18 years I struggled with depression, but I hid it from everyone, even myself. In the past 6 years it got worse. My heart and soul were in the slow process of dying, as I tried to look the good Christian woman part on the outside, and I didn’t even know it.

I worked on developing friendships in the new church we were in, thinking it was a lack of friends that was causing this emptiness in me. I had 2 kids in quick succession thinking that would “fill” me. That only seemed to make things worse. No matter how hard I pursued God, pursued friends, or tried anything, I was still empty.

I finally admitted to a close friend that I was struggling with depression. She told me I needed to talk to my small group leader who did some counseling. I did see him and his wife on and off for about a year or two. Things just kept getting worse. I sought some anti-depressants from my regular doctor at the beginning of last summer. But all the time this was going on, I tried to “act normal” and perfect for everyone around me. It was just a facade, as I was still dying inside.

Finally, it got to the point where the mask was ripped away. Quite effectively. I ended up planning my death. A very good friend convinced me to tell my husband that at least I was that close, and then another friend suggested that I at least tell my doctor who was prescribing my medications. As soon as I did that, I was in the hospital, on the mental health unit. Even walking in there, I had on that mask. Later I talked with other patients there, and they had told me that after meeting me the first time they had commented to each other, “She is way too happy to be on this unit!”

Now I know that I need to be real. There is no way that I can survive with the masks. It is too painful. It keeps me too far away from God, because when I am pretending with others, I find I am pretending most of the time with God. Even though I had that wake up call this year… twice… hospitalized both times, I still struggle with putting up the “perfect” mask. It is a very hard habit to break.

I still really struggle with being the perfect everything for my family. But it doesn’t matter if I flubbed up on worship team this weekend, or didn’t quite make it on time to pick up Peter at school, or get the full dinner prepared on time. It is GOOD ENOUGH.

It is GOOD. And God is ENOUGH.

No matter what happens, what anyone else thinks, or what I think, or the lies I am being fed by the world, my flesh or the devil…

It is GOOD. And God is ENOUGH.

How can I compete with that? In everything God is enough, no matter how badly I fail, or others fail me. Anything and everything I do:

It’s. Good. Enough.

As long as my focus and heart are in the right place.

Because God is enough to cover all of my mistakes with His PERFECT BLOOD.

If you want to see anymore about this blog bible study, hop over and visit Lelia, and see the other people’s post about Ms. Perfection showing up in their lives.

**NOTE for those of you who are interested in the “good enough” part I wrote at the end here… and would like further clarification, see my post “Perfectionism and Good Enough

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