Permission to have a bad day. Permission to not have it all together. Permission to not be perfectly patient with our kids. Permission to sometimes be mad or sad or scared. Permission to feel unsure of ourselves. Permission to be human. There is so much pressure to be perfect (and it starts so young nowadays). The problem is, perfect is always changing.
The perfect body looks much different now than it did 100 years ago. The perfect personality in 2015 is not what it was in 1930. The perfect woman “total package” today is not at all what was expected in 1950. But women, underneath it all, are still the same – they want to be loved, they want to be accepted, they want to have purpose, they want to feel successful, they want joy, they want peace. It’s especially hard to be constantly bombarded with the newest standard of perfection. Media today puts it in our faces all day every day. It’s no wonder we feel like we can never measure up….and even worse when people actually tell us so.
I was talking to a new friend about being a perfectionist. She got it, she is one, too. I said I’m the kind of person who won’t do something unless I think I can do it perfectly. And the worst part is, once I do something, I obsess over whether I actually did it perfectly or not. Sometimes, that obsession causes me to try to fix things that weren’t truly broken and that most people wouldn’t have even noticed…until I tried to fix it. I’ve had several such opportunities over the last few days, and that’s kind of what brought about this post.
I know I’m not the only one. I’ve had way too many conversations with other women lately who struggle with the same thing. But today, I want to give us all permission. Permission to embrace who we are in all its imperfect glory. Embrace the fact that we talk too much, laugh too loud, make mistakes, forget stuff, skip exercising to go get ice cream, lose our patience with our kids, or eat cereal for dinner. Not that I ever do any of those things, and if you think you see me at the little ice cream place down the street, I’m sure it’s a case of mistaken identity 😉
I went to a friend’s house recently and she apologized that her house wasn’t cleaner (it looked great, by the way). I told her I don’t want to go to someone’s house and have it look perfect. Mine sure isn’t. I love that there were backpacks on the floor and snack wrappers stuffed in the chair cushions. Because that’s real. I have found things that my kids stuffed in the couch cushions that I thought had been lost forever…sometimes that can be scary, depending on what it is. (Honesty Break – Everyone whose kids have ever stuffed something down in the couch cushions, raise your hand. Just as I thought, that was everyone who has kids…even if you don’t have kids, if you’ve ever had kids over to your house to visit, my tip is – check the couch cushions for random stuff, it’s there) My point is, I didn’t expect her home to be perfect; I don’t expect her to be perfect (and I know she doesn’t expect me to be perfect either). I love her just as she is. And that’s how real, authentic friendships grow.
Now that we all have permission to not be perfect, let’s spread that grace to the other women in our lives. Let’s love others well, without conditions and expectations. That doesn’t mean we don’t encourage change when we see our friend making mistakes, but we can do it in such a way that leaves them feeling restored, not broken. (This is especially important in the church, where we have this misguided idea that once you become a Christian, you won’t ever struggle again.) I started thinking about that word restored after I typed it. What a great word. A word that encompasses the idea of all things becoming new again. And I’ve decided, I want to be someone who is a restorer of women. I want to be the one that helps pick up the broken pieces, the one who covers the wounds, the one who speaks with compassion. I want to be the kind of person that makes others feel at ease. I want to be someone that could hear another’s deepest, darkest secret and they would know that I don’t think less of them. I want to give room for others to be free to be who they really are without worrying whether that is good enough. I think it would be awesome if each of us were known as a restorer of women. (I’m actually getting ready to start a Bible study on this very subject. It comes with a group option which I think sounds awesome. I’ll let you all know how it is when I get into it.)