Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Yes To God Tuesday - Chapter Two: Ms Perfection...

Week two of the Yes To God Tuesday study brings us to the topic of Ms Perfection...hmmm. Well, all I can say about her is that she has really played a big part in messing up the minds and lives of a lot of women in the world - Christian and non-Christian. Somewhere along the way, maybe in the 50s and 60s with the age of "Mrs Super Subservient and Perfection Personified" (in advertising at least!), the myth was created that as women, wives, mothers, etc; we had to strive for perfection. The only problem with that is that no-one actually set the bar on perfection (because, as we know, it can't be done) or provided a manual on how it was done and as Psalm 119:96 reminds us..."To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless."

Over the last few working days I've had to organise some computer training, of which I'm also running, for 46 staff members across 3 locations. This has entailed liaising with a number of people to organise attendee lists, arranging room bookings and computer access, finalising attendances, printing off resources, organising seating plans and computer logins, as well as some last minute swatting on what training I need to deliver. I love this type of organising, and thrive on the challenge, so it was all good, until...yes, there's an was discovered that the computer access I needed for one location had not, and may not, come through on time.

Panic stations almost! But I kept a cool head and phoned the lady who will be doing the training at that location and we came up with an alternative. I almost had it perfect! Almost! I am a perfectionist when it comes to things like this, and in actual fact most things that I do when it comes to my work life. Home life...well, ask me on a day when I've washed, ironed, vacuumed and dusted all on the one day instead of over a week! My 'almost perfect' day reminded me of the fact that nobody, except God, is perfect. He is the only one who can attain, and produce, such a thing. He made the earth and gave us His perfect Son; proof enough there.

Lisa writes that, "God doesn't have to prove anything to us to let us see our imperfections. We can manage all on our own." How true is that! We manage it because we set the bar too high on trying to be perfect. This then causes us to become frustrated with ourselves; not liking ourselves and our so-called 'failure' at being perfect, so we try even harder the next time, only to fall even harder. It's a crazy notion that we do this to ourselves, but we do. "They have pitched us an image...and we've fallen for it. We are buying into the notion of perfect wife, perfect mother, and perfect package, at the expense of ourselves and our loved ones."

I tried the perfect wife gig once and failed miserably because I bought into the 'perfection' game based on unrealistic expectations. Perfection as a wife does not exist. Perfection as a mere human being DOES NOT EXIST! I wasted valuable relationship building moments with my then husband trying to be perfect. I spent more time with my home and possessions, taking care of them, than what I did of him.

As for the perfect mum; don't get me started there! I know that I am a good mother and meet Jasmine's needs, but I really do fail in some areas that I feel are vital. I have asked myself whether I am striving for perfection, and I know that I am not. I just want to be the best mother I can be for my daughter. Ways in which I experience the Perfect Mum Syndrome in my life is that I'd like to have a clean house all the time, that the laundry and ironing always be up to date, that I have lots of energy to do lots of fun things with Jasmine, and that I provide and cook fun and healthy foods for us to eat. I do have a clean house; it just has that 'lived in' look (I love that term!). T
he truth...well, the laundry is always clean, but it's usually left hanging to dry on an indoor line and waiting to be pressed in the ironing basket. I have energy until I get home from a full day at work, 5 days a week, and then I'm hard pressed to find much energy after that. I cook food from the necessary food groups. They don't always get served on the same day, but at least we eat them! As a solo parent, I need to watch that I don't try to be 'all that' and wear myself completely out. I have to cut myself, and Jasmine, some more slack.

The perfect package should be packed up into a space craft and jettisoned off into the sky never to return. Oh, what a myth the perfect package is. I know women who seem like the perfect package. Energy, popularity, career, house, car, husband, kids, you name it, she's got it. As I've become older and wiser, I know that it's all just a facade. Yes, she may have all that, but underneath there is always, and I mean ALWAYS, something that is the bee in the bonnet of this 'perfect' being. Whether it be marital problems, a rebellious child, monetary worries, etc; there is always something. We can never be, do or deliver 100%, only God can.

One important thing I've learnt over the years is what Lisa put so well here - "I have learned that peace comes from my relationship with Christ, not my weight, my clothing size, what car I drive or how many church functions I attend. Peace does not come from pleasing others, but from obeying God." That is so very true. At 38 years of age I have one broken marriage that resulted in divorce, and a failed relationship that resulted in a child born out of wedlock behind me. I haven’t attained the 'great Australian dream' of a mortgage and the ‘super duper’ career that a lot of others think I should have. But, I have learnt that true peace and happiness comes from what you give others in life, not in what life and others give you. Lisa is right, and we all know this; peace can only come from believing in and loving Christ. Amen for Jesus!

We have nothing to prove to Him; He loves us just as we are (there's that Bridget Jones quote again!). Our attempts at striving for perfection are just vain attempts to get others to like us, or at least that's my opinion anyway. I've spent many years trying to find happiness in perfecting my life and my relationships with other people. It didn't work because it just DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY! God doesn't allow it to work that way. If we were able to be perfect, we would not need Him, and oh how we need Him!

The challenge question is whether or not it is important for me to be seen as perfect or real in a certain area. I strive to do the best job that I am humanly able to do (with help from Mr Perfection Himself thrown in, of course!), whether it be at home or at work, or in my relationships, but I know that I cannot be perfect. That being the case, I would rather be seen as real. I'm the chick that bursts into tears at work when it all gets too much for me. I'm the chick who openly admits that she suffers from foot in mouth disease. But that's me; that's the real Paula. But I am also the chick who will openly admit when she is wrong, and that she is NOT perfect. And, most imporantly, I am the chick who will openly admit that she gets all her strength, faith and abilities from God and my belief in Jesus who died to forgive me of all the 'perfection seeking' wrongs that I have done.

I make no bones about the fact that I WANT TO BE SEEN AS REAL. Yes, there will always been an element of 'striving for perfection' there, but I am only human, so I put that down to a design flaw…hehe. Seriously though, it's not a design flaw when you think about it when it comes to how God designed us. It’s a reminder of who we should actually be turning to for fulfilment. It's another one of God's safety measures and insurance policies. We need Him so bad that it's unbelievable and He has set the bar for being perfect and He's so very good at it. We strive for it so we can make other people happy, but in the long run it's only God that we need to please.

We need to re-define the dictionary meaning for 'perfection' from this…

Perfection – noun
1. the state or quality of being or becoming perfect.
2. the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art.
3. a perfect embodiment or example of something.
4. a quality, trait, or feature of the highest degree of excellence.
5. the highest or most nearly perfect degree of a quality or trait.
6. the act or fact of perfecting.

…to this…

Perfection – noun
1. God

Let's leave it to the expert, and just set our business to doing what He wants us to do. To obeying Him, just as Lisa writes that we should, with our "flaws and all".

PS: Word is in from my best friend in answer to Lisa's question, "Do people see me as someone who tries to be perfect or as someone who is real?", so here goes...

"I see (people see) you as real (what you see is what you get), I love the fact you are honest without being hurtful, but I also think that you in yourself try to strive to be perfect. The reason I say that is whenever you think a negative thought (which is not very often by the way) about anyone/anything you chastise yourself. The world isn't perfect and no-one lives in a perfect world, so if you have a negative thought about anything/anyone, you should not be disappointed in yourself for making the comment, we are only human. God put us on this planet to be free and think freely. I don't like to see when you doubt yourself as I see you as a beautiful, strong, confident wonderful friend/mother who goes out of her way to give your best to people and be the best person you possibly can."

My response is that I do agree that in while being real, I do strive to be perfect, which is a clash of states and won't work. I agree that God did put us on this planet to be free and think freely, but to a certain point, as that is what is required of us as Christians. I am not to conform to an earthly existence, but remain a spiritual thinker. I thank my friend for her open answer, as she is actually one who knows me very well as we work together and spend alot of time communicating outside work. She is also the one person I can rely on to drop what she's doing and be there when I need help. I have long struggled with the Paula the outside world sees as opposed to the Paula I see. I just want to be real, nothing else, just real.


  1. I love your definition of perfection! It's the only one that works! Thanks for being so candid in sharing your story. I know it takes courage to put your life out there. It sounds like God has really taken you on an incredible journey. And guess what? We're not there yet!
    Lovely reading your thoughts! Can't wait to read more.

  2. Hey Paula! I am in a rush rush this morning, so I will be back to read your post when I can think straight. But I just had to tell you, I love what you said here in my comments:
    "We need to cast off what others may think of us, and stop our minds from guessing what they might be thinking, otherwise we will be held captive to it...always. God's opinion is all that matters."

    I need to hear that again, so thank you. God blessed me with your words this morning.

  3. That's a wonderful thing your best friend said.

    I don't know that I believe being real and striving for perfection is a clash. Maybe it's better to say we want to be real while striving to do our very best in every aspect of life. I mean, what harm is there in wanting to try to crack the eggs correctly into the bowl, or to type a grammar-free document, or to whatever. You know what I mean?

    Maybe we just need to change our perspective and remove that word perfection/perfect. We want to be real while doing our very best.
    I say this because when I read your statement of being real but trying to be perfect, I thought of myself and how that is me. I think I will change my focus to just do my very best. If I have to pick a shell out of the egg or leave one extra letter in a document, then my response is what matters. If I was striving for perfection, I am going to be very disappointed at that shell or letter. If I was striving for my best, I'm going to just try harder next time but not be that disappointed over it.

    I hope that was not too long winded and crazy.

    Love the definition of perfection. Maybe you can submit that to Webster's.


  4. Hi Paula,

    I'm voting for your definition of Perfection.

    I love how you shared about being the chick who... I'm not that good at showing my emotions outwardly, but God is changing that. Also that our strive for perfectionisim is not a flaw, but what God uses us to remind us that we need him.

    I'm so glad to be on this journey with you. Also what a wonderful note from your best friend. We do tend to be hard on ourselves, we are our own worse critics.

    Have a wonderful day,

  5. I love your definition of perfect so much better! I also was touched ny te note from your freind. How blessed you are!

    In His Graces~Pamela

  6. Thanks for your encouraging words, Paula - so grateful. I'm going to stop by and read your post again tonight - you have SO much in there. I'm floored by how much you have to say!!! It's awesome! Enjoy your day.

  7. Oh so much in this post to reflect on. If you need help sending the perfect package into outer space let me know. Sounds like you are doing a good jobe of juggleing your time as a single mom (been there done that and have the t-shirt.) Don't worry about not having acquired the 'great Australian dream' of a mortgage as I was 45 before I had my 1st mortgage. Thanks for the great post and I look froward to getting to know you better.

  8. Paula,
    Awesome thoughts and awesome "definition" of perfection. Nothing more needs to be added to that or said! Praise God for that characteristic only HE has.

    I am so thrilled you took the time to ask that challenge question and your friend took the time to fully answer it. It's not something we are used to doing, but it's important to see ourselves sometimes through someone else's lens...someone who has your best interest in mind. Thanks to BOTH of you for sharing.

    I prayed for you by name tonight!
    Lisa :)