Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Glad I Don't Have To Be Perfect-- Hope Chronicles 67

This post is inspired by Lisa Whittle's book Behind Those Eyes: What's really going on inside the souls of women. I'm reading it as part of an on-line study over at Lelia's. Click the book cover to hop over there and get connected. We are only on chapter 2, so if you want to join the soul searching, hop right in.

Perfect. That is what we always had to be growing up. We had to look like we had it all together even when we were falling apart. At one point my dad had moved out. We actually took phone messages as if he still lived there. No one heard us argue in public. We were definitely expected to behave and excel in school. I got "in trouble" exactly twice in school. I was shy and quiet. Both times the teacher moved me to break up a ring of chatter bugs. I found myself responding when I should have been listening to the teacher. But, I only had to be told once! Neither time was a true reprimand, but I did the "eyes forward, mouth closed" routine the rest of the year.

There was also a sense of competition between me and my twin. I'd get a 94% on a test and she'd get a 98%. She did better at almost everything After 3 years of piano, I gave up because she was farther along in the books than I was. When we took violin, she sat in a higher chair than I did. When the class ranks came out our senior year, she was 9/441 and I was 13/441. Those 5 points made me feel like a failure. For me to remember something like that, means it was pretty significant in my world.

So, going to college and being out on my own, you'd think I'd be able to give up some of that perfect world. Nope. Not at all. The voice in my head is probably louder than my mom's ever was. Like so many adults, I picked up where my parents left off.

But I know I'm not perfect. I just keep up a pretty good facade. I look put together but you haven't seen my house or how much I scurry to try to hide the mail pile and other things that needed to be put away long ago.

Several years ago, I stopped going to church for awhile. Honestly, I was angry at God. If He wasn't going to step in and lend me hand then why should I go? What was the point? My life was on a down hill slide and when I had to choose, I jumped, with Satan cheering, on the red hot one labeled "Express." Whoosh! I chose to slide away from God.

About 9 months later I was a wreck. I called my doctor's office. It happened to be a Christian practice. I asked for church recommendations and said I really needed to talk to someone. They gave me 3 possibilities but only one came with a name. So, that is the one I called.

That is how I ended up at Crosswinds. But even there I kept most people at bay. In my small group I was mute. I high tailed it out as soon as service was over.

Fear ruled my life at that point. Honestly, for 6 months I didn't take communion -- convinced that God would strike with a lightening bolt from heaven if I did. I had confided in one woman there. She patiently sat with me. One day I whispered, "Do you think God will zap me if I take communion."

"No," she said. "Not at all. Will you let me serve it to you?"

I did. I still remember the flood of relief that swept over me. I had gone back to church after 9 months, but I think this prodigal daughter went back to the Father in that moment.

Do I still try to look perfect? Yeah, sometimes. Okay, since this is about getting real -- most times. But I think I am taking more and more risks to let people in and see the real me. I'm finding that I'm relieved to not have to be perfect for them. But I'm even more relieved that I don't have to be perfect for God. That's the whole point of the cross, isn't it? If we were as perfect as we may pretend at times, there would have been no need for Jesus to die for our sins.

I'm so glad I don't have to be perfect. There is hope in knowing that this wayward daughter was embraced the moment she admitted her continued need and slipped back into place at His table.




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10 comments:

Connie said...

I too am taking more risks to let people in and see the real me and I am relieved too that they accept me. I am so glad you are back in the fellowship. I am right there in this journey with you to be real NOT PERFECT here on earth! Connie

Cindy said...

This is such a great book.
I'm so glad you joined the study also. Thank you for visiting my blog. I look forward to this journey with you.

Joyful said...

Amy, you and I are very similar...right down to the fact of being identical twins!

The 'people pleasing', perfectionist in me controlled my life for many years. I've worn more masks than a costume store could supply. Thankfully, over the last couple of years especially, the Lord has gently been removing and uncovering and I've known His sweet acceptance and love. It takes so much energy to hide and being 'real' brings so much freedom.

Whenever I want to reach into my closet for a disguise, the Lord lovingly takes my hand in His and reminds me who I am in Him.

His,
Joy

Laura said...

The way society rams comparison (we can never measure up to their plumb line) down our throats, and how I fall for it everytime, I cannot imagine living in the shadow of a comparison such as a twin. Overcoming that is a job that can only be done by HIm. I read with interest about your time of being angry at God. He will always woo you back, Amy. He loves you just as you are.
So good to read your thoughts.

Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

Your right Amy, we do not have to be perfect-that is the point of the cross so we keep walking in it's shadow. I enjoyed your post!!

In His Graces~Pamela

Carol said...

Amy,

I can't imagine growing up with such competition, and such huge expectations. I'm so happy that you are finding yourself in the Lord.

I'm like you very shy, and guarded so I'm glad we are making this journey together.

Carol

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Good post. Thanks for sharing. My heart breaks for how you felt growing up and feeling you never measured up to your twin.

How awesome the way the Lord brought you back to His House and to Him.
Paula

Jill said...

Thanks for sharing, I can relate to the feeling of the unrealistic expectations and why do we continue to do that as adults? Hard question, but I'm thankful God is helping me move away from that. Thanks again for your honesty and I look forward to hearing what you have to say in the chapters to come.

Pat's Tuesday said...

Amy,

What a great post I can relate in a way as my sister and I are 19 months apart and after she failed 7th grade she were in the same grade the rest of high school but since she was the rebellious one I always tried to be perfect so I wouldnt give my parents as much trouble.

Doing this bible study on line with people I have never met is a big step out of my comfort zone but I am loving it. What a blessing that when you found you way back there was a woman willing to show you God's unconditional love by wanting to serve you commuion.

I look forward to getting to know you better through this bible study.

Lisa said...

Amy,
I have always appreciated and loved that you are very honest about your struggles. I am really drawn to that authenticity in you, and once again, this post reflected a heart that desires His truth. You always share things that many others would be afraid to look at, much less talk about. Did you ever think Amy Brooke would be so bold and forthcoming and influence other women's lives? Well, you are and you do.

Does that mean you are now perfect? Of course not. I don't tell you these things to "brag" on you. I tell you these things to encourage you to see yourself for the beautifully created daughter of God you are...one who is not perfect, but so very loved. Since you read the book already, you know that is where it is going. :)

Much love and care for you!
Lisa :)

P.S. I prayed for you by name tonight.