Friday, October 11, 2013

Perfection: A Series

The topic this week at Bible Study touched on a word that is near and dear to my heart. A word that encompasses both my greatest asset and my Achilles heel. Something that has created all my success but also catapulted me to the brink of self-destruction. 

Perfection....the pursuit of being perfect. 

Imagine my surprise as other members of my small group scoffed at the idea of striving for perfection. The idea of having everything in their life "just so" never occurred to me. 

It was like seeing a unicorn....a mystical creature I didn't think even existed. 

You mean, there are people in this world who don't feel the compulsion to straighten every tilted picture frame?  Or fold their underwear and keep their closets in impeccable (organized) order? Or who mentally flog themselves for the slightest imperfection on an email or assignment?

I was floored. I've lived this way for so long that up until a few years ago, I didn't know there was another option. 

The option to just be. 

To be messy, to be flustered, to enjoy the freedom of saying "I don't know exactly what I'm doing, but it's okay, I'll figure it out."  The peace that comes with rolling with life's experiences and chalking up a catastrophe to "a lesson learned."

In many coaching office chats with my dear friend, Shemika I discovered something about myself. My extreme and unwavering desire for perfection shut me off from the world. It created a persona that I was better than other people, that I had my act together and looked down upon those who didn't. And honestly, who would want to be friends with a person who seemed to be perfect, thus shedding light on your own obvious IMperfections? 

For all my painful self-examinations over the course of my life....I had never encountered that particular perspective. I had never had myself reflected back in such a way. 

When Shemika (kindly) pointed this persona out to me, my mouth hung open and I stuttered, "but you KNOW that I KNOW that I'm not perfect, right!" I desperately plead my case. "I have a terrible temper and I lose patience far too easily!  Sometimes I talk too much and can be self-centered!" 

Shemika smiled gently and began, "well, I know that, but..."

I didn't let her finish. "I'm not perfect! I CAN'T EVEN BAKE COOKIES OR KEEP A PLANT ALIVE!"

Then she laughed at me and gave me a hug while my shoulders fell in defeat. I knew she was right. I could see the reflection in the mirror she held up to me. 

For whatever reason, the face I show to the world isn't of gentle sweetness or kind gentility. It's cold and judgmental perfection.  And that is not the person I want to be. I want to display genuine and sincere authenticity. I want to celebrate my strengths through embracing weaknesses.

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