They need me, to be IMPERFECT

So, I threw a temper tantrum of mammoth proportions yesterday.  I am ashamed to admit this at nearly 38 years old, but I did.  You see, I fancy myself a writer, communicator, artist, advocate for change…and I botched it yesterday.  As I worked on the latest piece of communication for a non-profit there were tweaks that needed to be done, small edits.  I missed an S on a word.  I went ballistic.

An old tape ran through my head…what my mother intended for motivation has plagued me my entire life.  That is MY issue, not hers.  The message that there would always be someone out there better than me, smarter, more talented, more attractive and just plain better screams at me.  When my best and the highest standard to which I hold myself needs tweaking, I feel inadequate, vulnerable, and a failure.  I spoke those words to myself yesterday.  I screamed them in my head and to others….They are lies.  I looked back at am email that I sent last night commenting that I would never allow myself to be published, because I am not perfect.  Missing an S caused such an avalanche of crap that it is almost overwhelming to consider.

Where do we stumble on these concepts?  I have to believe that I am not the only one to wrestle with the concept of perfection, of measuring up, of being number 1.  A good friend of mine called my quest for perfection, an idol.  That hurt.  They were right, and that stunk even more.  To think that I would place the quest of something I can never achieve above the One that created all….well, I ought to be ashamed.  I am, but lest I become too ravaging towards myself, I invoke the concept of grace.  I find that I am really good at speaking that to others, even extending that in instances when I should be advocating something else.  I stink at accepting grace. 

What of that word, grace?  From a Christian perspective, it is God’s unmerited favor–kindness that we do not deserve.  Kindness…favor.  What peaceful words, what a comforting concept in which to rest.  So, why is it that so many of us wrestle and argue with understanding that we can let up on ourselves?  Why this need to beat up and extract every speck of humanness that makes us unique?  I do it all the time.  When my mother told me some 33 years ago that there would always be someone out ahead of me, I ripped me apart, literally.  I have spent the better share of my life chasing after something I will never attain…no wonder I am exhausted.  No wonder I spend good grey matter fretting over issues or nuances that mean nothing.  No wonder I am almost paralyzed with fear that what I know to be right and true would never make the grade.  Am I really willing to give up on a dream that has been placed in my soul since I was little because it will never be perfect?  As of last night, yes.

I think that scares me the worst.  In the light of day, temper tantrum subsided, I said yes.  Yes, I was willing to chuck a “calling” and dream because I am not perfect.  My husband asked me last night if I would hold my sons to the same type of standard.  Out of my mouth, “No, of course not.”  In my head and heart…you betcha.  You bet I would hold them to that standard.  Yes, I just typed that and you should be peeved that I thought it.  I am.  The fact that I would consider holding them to that standard is ludicrous.  There is no way I expect my kids to be perfect…and you should see the uptight attitude I carry sometimes….They will never fit that, and neither will I.

I said when I graduated Seminary this past December that my goal was to break whatever dysfunctional cycles I carried into my adulthood.  That somehow, sins of my past would not be reflected on my kids…that I would do it different.  This dysfunction is not the same for others, it is my own, from my experience, and I will contend that we all possess some.  I vowed that the cycles would end with me, for the most part, they have.  I forgot one major part.  I forgot to model grace towards self to them.  That batch of insidious messaging is ingrained in my head and the only one who can rewrite it is me…and I have to–for their sakes.  Another good friend of mine told me not so long ago that he needed me to be a strong and capable woman, confident in my place and calling—so that his daughters would see that modeled for them.  “I need you to be that, for my daughters.”  Wow.  What a charge.  My kids need to see it, so does the next generation…they need not to be perfect.  They need me to be IMperfect.  What a concept.

I laugh a bit here as I contemplate that…ok, please give me the 12 step handbook which will allow me to be imperfect…perfectly.  C’mon, you saw it coming too, and you laughed.  I will end with this plea.  I know I have to rewrite, at this point I do not know how.  I type here, vulnerable and admitting I don’t know what that mold looks like.  I have to believe there are others in the same boat….shall we row together?  How bout those that have a vision of this?  Help us steer?  Maybe I can come along you in your boat sometime soon, too?

Grace and peace and blessings to you each.




2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. amysmuddledmusings
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 09:15:45

    As a fellow recovering perfectionist, I can relate. It truly takes time, gray hair, and a few pail-fulls of tears for us to really believe we are worth taking up space and breathing oxygen if we continue to be imperfect. But your kids will greatly benefit from you staying the course. Just look at it this way: you have one less temper tantrum to go!

    And besides, that’s what editors are for!


    • cindythea
      Feb 19, 2012 @ 11:28:31

      Amy, thank you so much. Time I understand, Gray hairs are the bane of my existence and tears are shed frequently. I often look at my children and pray that I am doing and modeling the right messages for them. Only time will tell….


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