When You Want to be Perfect

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

A building full of shiny metal greets me. Every car and all the dresses from the time period displayed with them seem flawless. I am dazzled by the how clean all the cars are. Not a smudge or a speck of dirt. No banged up fenders. No flat tires. The dresses perfectly pressed. Pristine. Just perfection.

Don't we all wish we could be that way? Perfect without a smudge or a dent like the cars in the museum. Every detail of our lives beautiful like the dresses that hang near them. We strive for it. We agonize about how to attain it, but we never seem to show up all shiny and beautiful...maybe because perfectionism is not in the realm of our reality. Restoration is.

Like every car and dress in the museum we have a past. A broken-down one. A past that needs care and cleaning and a whole lot of restoring. So how do you deal with you less than perfect self? Where do you go to find restoration?

Accept your brokenness and defects. A perfectionist's biggest battle is accepting their less-than-stellar attributes. We don't want brokenness. We abhor the defective in our lives. I have found over the years that in battling perfectionism that it is totally related to the "what ifs" of anxiety. What if I am not good enough? What if they reject me? What if I fail? When I accepted wholeheartedly my broken pieces relief came. There is no pressure to make everything perfect when you grasp that it isn't attainable in the first place. The anxiety melts under acceptance. We all have fallen short of perfect {Romans 3:23}. Those that are healthy learn to not hide the defects.

Understand there is beauty there. We are all like a dilapidated car sitting in a garage. We are worn down by age, circumstances, pain, and grief. It takes a craftsman to see our worth and to bring out the beauty. Every life story has a beautiful piece to it. God can take the ugly and make the beauty shine. The most courageous stories come from the heartache and hurdles life throws at us.

Get rid of your ugly side. One of the ugly side effects of perfectionism is criticism. Perfectionists tend to be highly critical of themselves and others. I would have to say this is probably the most damaging part of "being perfect". I have been the target of perfectionists at times, and I have also shot a few critical arrows myself. When striving for all that is perfect we tend to get ugly about the faults in ourselves and others. I have learned to let go of my high expectations of myself and others. When I give grace the ugly goes away.

Realize that perfect isn't your goal, but restoration is. There was not a single car or dress in the museum without a past. Whether they had a ding or tear they all had something in common: imperfection. All were in need of restoration. These past few years I have been in need of restoration. And I am finding there is only one Restorer. God takes my failure, damage, and deterioration and has made something beautiful from it. My damaged life paved the way to a stronger person...a healthier one. We all need restoration, and we simply can't achieve it for ourselves. We need an expert. Someone who specializes in cleaning up our messes and making us shine.

So how about you? In need of a little restoration?

Journaling to remember His love

Monday, May 25, 2015

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I have been on a mission of late...looking for God's love. There are days when I desperately need His reassurance. There are circumstances in my life that at times scream to me, "You are NOT loved." I have become convinced over the years that a failure to know God's love means we stomp on others with the goal of attaining love any way we can. Those who believed they are loved don't need to be angry, vengeful, or discontented, because they know God is always on their side. I want to be that type of person...the one who can walk out into the world unafraid and able to love others simply because I am convinced of His love for me.

I have been using my Journaling Bible , these Highlighter Pencils, and pens to make note of verses that jump out at me about how God loves. This exercise in finding His love on the pages of Scripture has been a healing experience for me. After experiencing rejection and hurt, I have needed to take the time to remind myself He is always for me. I am sure I am not the only one.

Do you ever feel like God is sleeping on the job? Not aware of your pain or circumstances? Do you ever wonder if He cares? Will He fight for you if it comes down to  it? Will He come through in the end? Maybe it's time for some reminders. What is beautiful about highlighting the verses about how God loves and then writing a short thought about them is that you can page through your Bible at any time to be reminded of His care. You don't necessarily need a journaling Bible {Although they are nice, because you have more space to write}. All you need is a Bible, highlighters and a pen.

Not sure where to start? Here are some of the verses that have meant so much to me as I heal from rejection and work my way back to resting in His love.

God is Always for YOU {A guest post I did at His Mercy Is New.}
The Healing Journey {A great book that uses Scripture and journal questions to heal your heart.}

So do you need a reminder of His love? Maybe it's time to start collecting His "love notes". 

The Death of Grace

Friday, May 22, 2015

This week I am doing re-posts of how picking a Word of the Year has changed my perspective on life. Here is a look at Grace {my word for 2011}.

Have you ever heard the phrase, "Comparison is the death of contentment"?  That saying has always stuck with me over the years. It drives home the point that when we compare our lives, abilities, or possessions to someone else's we are bound to become disgruntled.

Recently I was working through a Bible study on the prophets and came across another profound statement...this time on the death of grace.  Grace is my Word of the Year for 2011.  I have been focusing on how to give grace to others and for that matter how to accept it from God. Of course, as God would have it the need for grace has popped up all over the place since I picked the word!  Don't you just love God? He really knows how to drive home a point!  This year has been an extreme struggle to work through forgiveness for someone that attends my church.  It is a battle.  I know that I need to forgive and show grace to this person.  My whole intent is to do just that, and yet, it doesn't come easy.  The Spirit is willing, but the flesh is definitely weak in this area!

So back to the statement on the death of grace.  What would cause its death? What sin would make grace impossible? To answer that question, you really have to think about what grace is. It is favor towards a person that doesn't deserve it. It is saying, "I know what you did, and yet I am going to show you kindness and love."  In order to do this I have found that I am having to give up my rights, my position, my entitlements to put the other person ahead of myself.  It is a tough thing to do. Putting the other person first means that I have to humble myself.  Being humble means that I have to get rid of my pride. You see, Pride is the death of Grace.

Think about it.  If I look on someone else and say...

"I would never do what she did."

"How could he have done that?"

"What was she thinking?"

Or my favorite Pharisee version,
"God, I thank you that I am not like other men-robbers, evildoers, adulterers- or even like this tax collector." {Luke 18:11}

...I will never be able to give them grace!  It is when I humble myself...when I realize that I am just like them that I can give grace to those who need it...even to those who have trespassed against me.

How God Redeems the Holes in Our Lives

Thursday, May 21, 2015

This week I am taking a look back at what I have learned from my Words of the Year. In 2013, my one word was Redeemed. Here is a re-post of how God can take the gaps of life and fill them.

In 2013, I started on a journey...a wilderness wandering if you will.  While the trip is not complete, I have seen the benefits of the lonely, hard trail God asked me to walk down.  This is a re-post about the journey... {To read the rest of the posts in the series, click here.}

This year God has stripped me down to the bare bones.  Huge chunks of my life were torn away.  Relationships severed.  Status changed.  My PR at an all time low.  Gaping wounds yet to be healed.  And yet,there is no lack of His love. He has walked me through it all.  Not that I am whole by any stretch of the imagination.  We become whole through the holes in our lives. It is in the stripping down that He builds us up.

The Israelites had a year like mine (let's just say several years).  Their status changed.  No longer favored by a Pharaoh. They became slaves, and their relationship with the Egyptians caused them great grief. Gaping wounds? I am sure a few wore them on their backs.  Yet, it was the holes that would make them whole and take them to their Promised Land.  Those places of deep need become the place where God meets us.  We lack no good thing when He takes us, strips us, and move us into the Wilderness.

The Lord your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey through this vast wilderness. These forty years the Lord your God has been with you, and you have not lacked anything.  Deuteronomy 2:7

He takes the holes of our lives.  The sufferings. The relational upsets. The sickness.  The emotional turmoil.  The need.  And fills them as we move into our Promised Land....a land where we don't lack.

For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land—a land with brooks, streams, and deep springs gushing out into the valleys and hills;  a land with wheat and barley, vines and fig trees, pomegranates, olive oil and honey;  a land where bread will not be scarce and you will lack nothing; a land where the rocks are iron and you can dig copper out of the hills.  Deuteronomy 8:7-9

I am grateful for Him... The Filler of Holes...

The God that is on Your Side

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Ever had a day, week, or maybe a whole year where you want to ask God the same question Gideon did? "If the Lord is with us, why has all this happened to us?" {Judges 6:13} If the Lord is with me, why is this happening? There are times when what happens to us makes us doubt His love, but our circumstances are not an indicator of His love. Even in the worst God is looking out for our best.

Since 2013, I have been on a mission to grasp how much He loves me. Circumstances told me He wasn't on my side. Pain declared He didn't have me on His heart when He allowed betrayal to enter my life. I got to the point of thinking because others had rejected me maybe He had too. The only problem with those thoughts is as I read God's Word I saw a different picture. Dozens of snapshots of His love for me.

Are you feeling like He left? Maybe He doesn't care like you thought He did? Are you wondering why He saw fit to allow pain into your life? This might be the time to search out how He loves you regardless of what you have been through. Join me over at His Mercy is New today to read ten verses about how God is for you {with a free printable}.

Learning to Count It ALL Joy

Join me this week as I take a look back at what I have learned through picking a Word of the Year. This is a post from 2014 when my word was COUNT.

I open to the Book of James and the verse strikes at me right between the eyes.  Count. It. All. Joy. It is the ALL that sticks in my throat.  Every last little thing?  Surely, God, You don't mean ALL. It is apparent that I have misread the words, right?  And I am like the little two year old on the cassette tape...saying her numbers...counting to her momma and daddy... 1...2...3...5. I thought I had learned to count, but the recording of that toddler...of me...proves that I still have some learning to do in the counting department.  To learn to count it ALL.

Learning to count the heartaches and the sorrows.  To count griefs as graces {Ann Voskamp}.  To count problems as praises.  That is what it means to count it ALL.  To count it ALL joy.

There is a book that sits by my bed.  The one with the bird and "believe".  It holds my new lessons in counting since it is blatantly obvious that numbers aren't my thing. The one where I count it all.  The one where I count the pains.  The one where I count the heartaches.  The one where I count them as gifts. These are the hardest to count, not because of the high numbers, but because of the high cost to me.  Thanksgiving is hard when it comes to having gratitude for grief.

The pages don't lie.  There are sorrows.  Painful abuse. Deaths. Rejection. Friendship failure.  And yet, He asks me to count them as JOY.  For a year now I have counted.  Tried to "believe" like the journal cover proclaims that the heartaches can become "heart joys".  And you know what I have found?  A Father that loves me.  That wants to give me joy.  That is only out for my good.  A Savior that in order to save me brought grief into my life because He knows that nothing and no one rises again unless there is death.  That pain brings peace as crazy as it sounds.  That counting griefs as graces bring gladness.  I wouldn't have believed it...but I lived it.  I can look back on the gratitude list of grief and be glad for a Father that loves me.

The counting it ALL joy.  One of the best things I have ever done...

Hope When You Need to Stand Again

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Join me this week as I take a look back at what I have learned through picking a Word of the Year. This is a re-post from earlier this year...My Word for 2015? HOPE

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When devastation hits we need to know there is Someone standing by our side. In 2013, things fell apart for me. I fell apart. A huge chunk of my life would never be the same again. I mourned the loss of what was my normal. I mourned that I could never go back. I mourned the fact that when the damage was done I would become someone else. But I did not mourn the loss of the One who stood beside me. In the heartache He was all grace.

I love words. Strange as it sounds, words are my life...I write with them. I teach foreign ones {Spanish} to students. I love and study  the ones God wrote. One of the words I hold dear is "restoration". Silly, I know, but over the past few years that word has taken on a whole new life for me. I want restoration more than ever. I want to be the person who is whole, healed, and restored, but I am slowly realizing that being whole, healed, and restored doesn't look like I thought it would. I wanted life and myself to go back to the way it was. Yet, I know, I will never go back. I can't retrieve the person I was a few years ago. She doesn't exist. So how in the world could I ever be restored?

A few weeks ago,  I did what every word lover does...I looked it up. "Restoration" is not what I thought it was. The root word for "restore" comes from a word that means "to stand". To restore is to make the building, the person, or the work of art "stand" again {or in the case of art..."to stand out again."}. It also has other meanings: repair, renew, rebuild.

I was in need of some repair. I needed a God to stand by my side and help me stand again. I needed Someone to make me strong. When life falls apart God stands. He stands in the gaps of our lives. He stands up for us. He stands and listens to our pleas. Most of all, He stands in order to pick up the pieces of our lives. Like a father beside his young child in the waves, God stands beside us so that when we fall He can stand us back up again. That is restoration...to be able to stand again when life has pulled you under. You may stand up again with a few bruises, but God isn't taken aback by the imperfections. In fact, He uses them for His glory and our benefit.

Are you under the waves right now? Falling to pieces and in need of a bit of restoration? Go to the God of grace who restores those that need to learn to stand again. He's standing...waiting for you.

Need more hope? See all the Verses of Hope.