I’ve been reading Brené Brown’s book Daring Greatly and I loved the section on perfectionism. Our culture puts so much emphasis on perfectionism – every magazine cover, every Instagram post, etc. tells us we need to be perfect, our homes need to look perfect and our families need to be perfect.
Perfectionism is not the path that leads us to our gifts, and to our sense of purpose; it’s the hazardous detour.” – Brené Brown
The path to perfectionism is a dangerous path because it leads us away from who we truly are, into a territory of looking a certain way so people believe we are something we aren’t. I love this definition of perfectionism in Brené’s book:
Perfectionism is a defense move. It’s the belief that if we do things perfectly and look perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgement and shame. Perfectionism is a twenty-ton shield that we lug around, thinking it will protect us, when in fact it’s the thing that’s really preventing us from being seen.”
Years ago my friends used to tell me I reminded them of Martha Stewart. I always took it as a compliment because I admired her but I eventually realized that even though my friends meant it as a compliment, in saying that, they were also putting me on some sort of pedestal that meant they couldn’t invite me to their house, unless it was clean, or they couldn’t invite my family over for dinner, unless they could make it perfect.
The problem with such a great compliment is that the enemy uses it to create division. It becomes a self-destructive statement because they see that perfectionism doesn’t exist in their world, but the truth is that perfectionism simply doesn’t exist, period, especially not in my life!
I was interviewed by a magazine last year, for Ask Anna, and one of the questions they asked me was how I felt the world of decorating had changed, and people’s perceptions of their homes had changed over the years. I think the woman interviewing me was a little shocked by my answer, here’s what I told her –
Today people have much more pride in their homes then they did in the past because of social media. However the problem with social media is that it has created a standard of what our homes need to look like. Just like we all feel we need to look like the supermodel on the magazine cover, Pinterest, Houzz.com and Instagram are telling us that our houses need to look perfect too. We spend hundreds and thousands of dollars trying to make our homes look like the pages of Better Homes and Gardens magazine but it’s never enough.”
The hard thing for me with all of this is that I know many of the bloggers who have had their homes shared in magazines but what the reader doesn’t see, is that the picture in the magazine is just a snapshot. They also have kids running around making messes, destroying the rest of their house. But as the reader, all we see is that picture of perfection, which becomes the new impossible standard for our home.
This is the exact reason I stopped posting on the Ask Anna Instagram feed. I got so tired of trying to post a snapshot of perfection because my home and my days, don’t look perfect. I can’t even tell you how much freedom I felt when I started my current Instagram feed because for the first time in years I felt like I actually had the freedom to show snapshots of my real, imperfect life. Snapshots of who I really am – me without makeup, videos of my dog and her toys all over the living room, me working out, pages from the book I’m reading – me being me.
Just like Brené says, perfectionism is a hazardous detour to knowing our sense of purpose, because if we are always looking to achieve a higher standard of perfection, we will never get there, we will always be disappointed and we will never truly know who we are in the Lord. We have to stop caring what others think about us and know that
we are enough, just as we are.
If we turn our eyes away from what others around us look like, and the perfection the world says we should achieve, and turn our eyes to our creator, I guarantee you, you will find fulfillment. Here are a few verses I love, that talk about who we are –
I have seen the burden God has placed on us all. Yet God has made everything beautiful for its own time. He has planted eternity in the human heart, but even so, people cannot see the whole scope of God’s work from beginning to end. So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can.” Ecclesiastes 3:10-12 (NLT)
“Since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.
So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God.” Romans 5:1-2, 11 (NLT)
A Friend of God’s, that’s who you are. Nothing that anyone ever thinks about you should matter more than the knowledge that you are God’s friend! “God has made everything beautiful for its own time”, that’s you, you are beautiful and this is YOUR time!
If we spend our lives worrying about what others think, worrying about our story – and the things that make it imperfect – all we are doing is wasting away. We are wasting our lives, which were meant to be a valuable gift. Your life might not be perfect but don’t worry, mine isn’t either!
Imagine what would happen if we all stopped looking at one another, like everyone but us, has it all together? Imagine the freedom you could have if you would simply own your story, and all it’s imperfections. Imagine the identity you would feel if you stopped listening to the lies of the enemy that your imperfections are greater than mine. Imagine what we could accomplish if we were all happy to be ourselves and know that we are enough, just as we are.
Now is the time to stop hiding. Now is the time to stop hustling for perfectionism. Now is the time to stop performing. Now is your time.
It’s time to celebrate our imperfections, it’s time celebrate one another, we are all God’s children, each made perfect in Him image.