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Perfectionism. Shame. Identity.

October 26, 2016

In this season, I have been forced to be SO STILL. Like, goodness gracious, this could qualify as torture! There have been times when I haven’t been able to leave the house for over a week (and probably about drove my husband crazy!) I LOVE to be busy. I am genuinely having the most fun when my schedule is full from dawn to dusk and I am being pushed to my limits. Although my love for activity in and of itself might not be a bad thing, in this season of stillness I have been forced to do some major soul searching. Some days, the stillness was so hard I would wake up and feel depressed without understanding why and could not get myself out of the funk! You know why I could not get myself out of the funk? Because I was unable to use my wonderful, well-practiced coping mechanisms, such as keeping busy, that distract me from having to be real with myself and the Lord about what is in my heart.

 

As I started to realize that the Father was going after something inside of me, I asked Him to reveal places in my heart that I have shut down. Over the past few months, He has been bringing back memories a little at a time showing me how much shame I carry in my heart. On the surface, I would never have said that I carry shame around with me. But deep down in my heart, the shame was affecting the very core of who I am. The Lord showed me specific memories that caused me to feel deep shame in who I was and what I had done.  In one memory, I was in third grade and acted bossy towards my friends. In another, I embarrassed my mom by pointing out cobwebs when we had guests over for dinner. I was also reminded of my teenage years, when I strung boys along I knew I would never date. The memories kept coming like a flood. All of those things may seem silly and insignificant to someone reading them, but when I would recall them, I experienced so much shame over them! As I was asking the Father more about what I was remembering and the feelings I was experiencing, I realized the root my shame stems from is my failure to be perfect. Through my childhood and into college, I felt like I had to be perfect. I was not by any means, but I put pressure on myself to be. When I wasn’t perfect, by my own standards, I felt so much shame for my inadequacies and the mountain of shame inside of my heart grew little by little.

 

As the days went on and I continued to process my memories and feelings with the Lord, I realized that at a much deeper level, I was ashamed of who I am. At the center of my person, I was ashamed to be me! Please hear my heart when I explain this. I believe that being a wife and mother is an incredible calling and gift from the Lord. It should not be taken lightly and I hold family to be one of the most important things in life. With that being said, I have always had dreams that go beyond being a wife and mother. Since the time I was a little girl, I have always been a dreamer. I am constantly dreaming up big ideas and plans for the future.  As I got older, I started perceiving from other women that being a wife and mother is all I should be living for. That if my heart longed for anything more, I was out of place and needed to submit to God more. I started to feel that I was wrong in dreaming. Little by little, I started believing this lie about who I was supposed to be. Because dreaming has always been a part of who I am, I began to doubt other parts of who I am. I began to think that I was only supposed to be quiet and reserved.  That I was never to be at the center of a conversation. That I should be more soft spoken, have less opinions, less ambition, and less dreams. Unfortunately, I was really bad at this role I was trying to take on. I kept getting upset with myself for failing to be the soft-spoken-Christian-wife, and I honestly felt that the Lord had set me up in a lose/lose situation. I truly felt like I was too much, yet never enough.

 

I love to talk about identity. I am passionate about women being totally secure in who they are as daughters of God. Through this process, I realized I was slowly falling away from believing that truth for myself. I wasn’t sure of my own identity. I was trying to fit myself into the mold of what I thought a “good Christian wife” was supposed to look like. Bump that! I am not going to look to my left and right to see what I am supposed to look like. I am going to look into the eyes of my Father, the One who created me and every other beautiful thing in this world! He does not want me to look like everyone else around me. He created me to be fully ME. He does not want a copycat of someone else who looks like they have it all together (because, who ACTUALLY has it all together?) He wants a daughter that has totally abandoned the boxes this world has tried to put her in. He wants a daughter that is running wild after everything He has for her. He wants a daughter that is totally secure in the fact that she is enough. I am enough.

 

I encourage you to make time to slow down. Ask the Father what is keeping you from being all He has created you to be (Psalm 139:23-24). Maybe, like me, shame is what’s lingering in the shadows. Maybe it’s fear, anxiety, depression or insecurity. I would have never known that shame was ravaging my heart the way it was until I asked the Lord to come into the dark places and help me walk through them. It was NOT fun. The days in the process were awful. I felt like I relived some of the most shameful experiences in my life, and I am continuing to work through it. Even though it has been hard, I would do it a million times over if it brought me to this place of security in who God created me to be.

 

Last but not least: to all my perfectionists out there - the world is not resting on your shoulders. You are human and no one expects you to be anything more than that. The Father goes before you and behind you. When you make a mistake you have to learn to be gracious to yourself and move on. Through this process, I realized that I accepted God’s forgiveness towards me, but I could not find it in my heart to forgive myself. I expected perfection of myself, and when I failed it shook me to my core. Shame took root with each failure and grew to suffocate who I was created to be. Give yourself grace. Miss Perfectionist, I am sorry to break it to you, but you are not and never will be perfect. And that is okay! We’re allowed to be imperfect because we have a Savior that IS perfect in every way!  We have to learn to surrender our need to be perfect and in control. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." It is in that place of surrender that we let Jesus see us in our weakness and carry us through. Allow yourself to be weak. Allow yourself to be imperfect. Allow yourself to be all He created you to be.

 

You are worthy.

 

You are enough.

 

You are a daughter.

 

 

 

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