The Price of Perfection

I walked into the fellowship hall with my children and several bags in tow. As my girls scattered in excitement to play I set my sacks down. The one that held food was a plastic bag from a gas station, and I cringed as I looked across the snack table provided. Everywhere were cute Christmas dishes, crockpots, and across the room several moms iced homemade cupcakes. I had two bags of Chester Cheetos Cheese Puffs, cause who doesn’t like those, right?!

I should have at least brought a decorative bowl to put them in, I thought.

But I hadn’t. Because I barely made it on time. And I only remembered I was even lacking in the required snack to share at around nine o’clock last night. So my gas station grab bag was as good as it was gonna get. I had considered a quick trip to the Kroger for something more special, but there really wasn’t such a thing as quick with three little kids and car seats. So…

I already had felt bad about my frazzled mood when rushing the children out the door. I had awoken long before them to set out clothes and a bag of wrapped gifts to exchange, but still we were racing towards the end. That was just our jam, baby.

Yet when I first looked at those sweet ladies with cupcakes, the homemade hor d’oeuvres, and all the cute kiddos in ruffle pants (which I admittedly adored) I felt like I was lacking in the mommy department. I felt subpar and had even spoken as much to my husband via text before arriving.

“Do you think I’m a subpar mom because I get so frazzled at things like this? Others don’t seem to.”

I’m not sure what it is about women that feel we must be doing something, but also doing it well. It’s like our anxiety rises when we’re not rushing about, and we begin to wonder what we’re missing or forgetting. We feel our worth is based a lot on our performance, and thanks to the world around us we have a preconceived notion of what that’s supposed to look like.

Whether we want to admit it or not we’re blinded by the sparkle. We see the glitzy world social media displays, we thumb through magazines or Pinterest with a yardstick ego, and we watch Mrs. Jones even if we think we don’t. In a world that says, “look at me,” and one that captures in fully-filtered glory the highlight reel of the everyday mundane we begin to see the world through rose-colored glasses. Or sometimes green ones (in the case of unintentional envy). Even ordinary circumstances like this morning are viewed through a tainted expectation and standard we hold ourselves to, and despite our understanding that we all hold certain talents and gifts, it doesn’t matter.

So what happens in today’s warped world-view is everyone puts their best foot forward always, and we begin to strive for a phantom perfection that cannot be found. Mothers grade themselves more sternly than my chemistry professor in college marked through our lab books, and they are left feeling like they didn’t make the grade. Women hold themselves to unrealistic beauty standards, and young couples enter matrimony thinking they’ve found the perfect mate. When they realize their partner isn’t, they assume divorce is the answer because surely that shining knight is out there somewhere. Kids get dressed like supermodels since that’s the standard norm nowadays, and we laugh at pictures of our own selves as children.

“What were my parents thinking?” We ask.

Hmmm. What were they thinking indeed?

Perhaps they weren’t as entranced by the social standards we currently strive to maintain. Maybe mom wasn’t worried about being perfect, but rather enjoying the ride.

When I had texted my husband in a regrettable, embarrassing moment of self-loathing he had responded so lovingly. He could have rolled his eyes and ignored me. He should have! After all, I knew the truth. I knew that perfection wasn’t some worldly standard I needed to obtain to keep up with those around me, or my own head. Perfection was a state I already existed in when I rested in God’s grace, the fact that He lived in me, and by allowing Him to lead my life. Perfection was obtained through Him. I knew this, yet my husband still responded.

“You just don’t see it. You are a wonderful mom because those kind of things don’t matter anyways. What makes you a good mom and wife is that you LOVE your kids and husband. I know God is first in your life and so you know what love really is. We think you are wonderful”

When I battled my moment of self-doubt this morning, it wasn’t due to anyone else. No one did anything that made me feel that way! I just did. Until I snapped out of it, that is. There were always situations and circumstances that could make me feel like I was lacking, but that wasn’t from the Lord. I have realized that Perfection is a battle we face in today’s world. It’s the lie the devil feeds us to make us think we’re not good enough, to sabotage our relationships, to shift our focus from what’s truly important, and to separate us from God’s perfect grace that wants to work in our lives.

What’s the price of perfection? It’s the cost that takes our eyes off Jesus, and it places them on ourselves, our works. The world says if you work hard enough, practice enough, pray enough, do enough, that you will obtain the perfect life. But the Lord says, “I have already given it to you, my child.”

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”–John 10:10

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