Maybe it’s just something that happens to a mom who wakes up one morning and realizes she’s tired. Physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually tired. Tired of failing. Tired of trying. Tired of pretending. Tired of seeking perfection, only to always fall short of the impossible goal.
Maybe it’s just something that happens to someone who realizes that she’s spent her entire life trying to fulfill other people’s expectations. Or maybe it only happens to people who spend their entire lives craving affirmation from people who never gave it.
Or maybe it’s just me.
But I don’t think so.
Deep down, I think it’s something that dwells within all of us – that deep, long-buried desire to let go of all our pretense and embrace an authentic life for ourselves. Don’t we all want to shed the shackles of perfection, to be who and what we want to be without fear of disapproval or disappointment?
Of undisputed origin; genuine.
Based on facts; accurate or reliable.
Relating to or denoting an emotionally appropriate, significant, purposive and responsible mode of human life.
An authentic life. Oh, how my soul craves this! A life of freedom and full joy. The ability to appreciate the good, experience the bad and stop the endless shame that stems from our never-ending quest for perfection in all things. A life free of judgment and being judged. A life enjoyed without concern of who is watching and what they may be thinking. A life lived with purpose and significance.
A life built upon the foundational fact of my origin as a daughter of God – not a life tied to the unstable sands of worldly approval.
Some of us live so in fear of the judgment of others that we judge ourselves. We deem ourselves unworthy, incomplete, unlovable. We decide that we’re just not enough as we are, that we cannot be accepted because we don’t measure up to some impossible illusion of perfection. We condemn ourselves before others have the chance.
We bury the vulnerable parts of our hearts deep within ourselves. We build fortresses around our true selves, too afraid of the damage that others might do to us if we leave our tender hearts exposed. We become so afraid of rejection that we reject ourselves.
Does this sound familiar to you? It sure does to me.
I’ve lived this way for much too long.
I used to think it was just me. I used to think that I was the only one who lived this way, who battled daily with the constant inner narrative that told me I’m not good enough, I’d never measure up, I’d always be a failure in every possible way. I used to think that I was alone in the fight. I used to be so afraid of people, so unwilling to connect with others, too afraid to make new friends and often afraid to interact with the friends I did have. I was sure that the more people got to know me, the less they’d like me. After all, it just doesn’t take very long to see through the facade of perfection I’d tried so hard to maintain.
I was so sure, for so long, that nobody could understand what this was like.
I was wrong. So very, wonderfully wrong.
It’s not just me at all.
It’s Jill Savage, too.
“A good friend once told me, ‘Jill, never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.’ She shared that wisdom when she heard me unconsciously compare myself to another mom after one of my many failures. That powerful statement still sticks with me. I now realize that most moms play the comparison game dozens of times every day. We constantly look to see how we measure up to those around us. And we don’t measure up. But how can we measure up? We compare ourselves to something that doesn’t exist. We compare our messy insides – our struggles, our failures, our less-than-perfect lives – to other women’s carefully cleaned-up, perfect-looking outsides. It’s a game we moms play that we can never win.” –Jill Savage, “No More Perfect Moms”
And it’s Frederick Buechner.
“…What we hunger for perhaps more than anything else is to be known in our full humanness, and yet that is often just what we also fear more than anything else. It is important to tell at least from time to time the secret of who we truly and fully are – even if we tell it only to ourselves – because otherwise we run the risk of losing track of who we truly and fully are and little by little come to accept instead the highly edited version which we put forth in hope that the world will find it more acceptable than the real thing.” –Frederick Buechner, “Telling Secrets”
It’s also Jennifer Dukes Lee.
“I do wonder if a lot of us are part-time posers who want to break free but are too scared. And maybe we’re all just waiting for someone in our own circle to drop the facade, to get really real. Then everyone else would have permission to do the same.” –-Jennifer Dukes Lee, “Love Idol”
And it’s me.
Is it you, too?
Like those brave authors before me, I’m standing up today and declaring ‘NO MORE!’ No more comparisons. No more pretending. No more editing. No more posing. No more fear. No more facades.
What more can we offer to our friends, to the world, than ourselves? Not the highly refined and processed parts of ourselves that we present so freely, but all of us? Not just our successes, but also our failures. Not just our strengths, but also our weaknesses. Our good days and our bad days. All of it.
What if we had the courage to stand up today, to be real? What if we stopped hiding within ourselves and stopped living in fear of rejection? What if we stepped out of our comfort zone, opened up and tried something new? What if we started valuing ourselves based on God’s opinion of us instead of seeking validation at the altar of worldly praise? And then, could we each encourage just one more person to join us, to stop the pursuit of something so elusive as perfection and enjoy our lives just as beautiful and broken as they are? And what if this one person could encourage just one more? Then what?
We could set the whole world free.
It’s an amazing thought.
Just think about it.