Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Releasing the Pursuit of Perfection

Do you remember a few weeks ago in my post God Keeps Knocking where I talked about getting the same message from many different sources?  Well, God is at it again.  I guess I must be stubborn and need to hear His point multiple times before I really accept that He is talking to me and He wants me to take action.  I am going to share what He has been doing in my life and hope that somehow it blesses you too.
First I have been going through the Journey at Crossroads in Cincinnati.  The Journey is a six week period in the fall where about 50 churches all focus on the same topic.  This year it is the journey home.
And the challenge for me to cease my striving for perfectionism.  Last week I realized just how hard this will be for me to do and how much work it will take.  And honestly, I was at a loss for exactly how to begin.

I also went to MOPS this past week, and we were talking about taking the plunge with God.  We had a great discussion.  Among other things we talked about the risks and barriers to taking the plunge with God.  MOPS is Mothers of preschoolers, so everyone has at least one small child.  Coming from the place of having gone through small children and then choosing to return to that stage again, there are some things I see more clearly this time than the first time.

 It is super hard to get regular long quiet times when your kids are little.  I mean they keep you up at night, they get sick and make you sick, they interrupt what you are doing almost constantly.  They have to eat and nap and go to bed early or the day has more struggles than usual.  All together, these things add up to making it difficult to have long interrupted quiet times and often less participation in church activities.  I am pretty sure that God already knows about this.  I am also pretty sure that one of His goals in this is to get us to seek Him continually throughout the day.  It is the season we are in as mothers of small children.  While other women were talking about it, it was easy for me to see that this season will pass and things will go back to “normal”.  That they shouldn't stress about having a less than perfect church attendance or quiet time while the babies are little.

So why is it that it is easier for me to see God’s grace with others, but feel the need to pressure myself toward perfection?  Intellectually I know better, but in practice I continue to strive for the impossible. 

Finally I have also  been participating in an online Bible study through (in)courage at Mommy on Fire. I thought I was behind.  But in God’s time I was right on time.  After my inability to figure out where to start for dealing with my perfectionism in the Journey, my (in)courage group began looking at shame. Julia Curry had a lot of great stuff to share.

Here is what got my attention:
Can you say “no” to requests without over-explanations?
Are you particular about your appearance and embarrassed of someone seeing  you  when you’re not at your best?                    
Are you afraid to let others see you in your weak, “don’t-have-it-all-together” moments?
Do you struggle with a compulsion or addiction to some degree?
What goes through your mind when you feel left -out of a social interaction?
What goes through your mind when you look in a mirror?
Do you believe God genuinely enjoys you or merely tolerates you?
I encourage you to think through these questions and invite the Lord to shed some light on whether or not shame is influencing your perception of God, yourself and others.
Author Craig Hill says, “When shame is working, you feel like you have to work twice as hard as others to get half as much done.  When you look at peers, you feel like a caterpillar in a butterfly world.” ( Want more, look here)

So I will be looking at whether or not shame is influencing my perception of God, myself and others.  And if shame is influencing my desire to be perfect all the time.  And that is where I will start and where I will leave you today. 

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