Friday, March 23, 2012

Learning to be the Light

It is exhausting trying to be perfect!  Believe me, I know.  And no one can do it, I’m told, so why do we try?  Sometimes I think that we hope we can at least convince some people that we are if we look like we have it together for a few shining moments…and we pray someone catches it on camera so we can make that our facebook photo - then we can look perfect all the time even if we don’t get out of bed for the next six months. 

          Who can say when it started or why it happened, but this has been a struggle for me most of my life.  And I felt like if I wasn’t perfect then I was letting others down, most importantly I felt like I was letting God down.  But God was just waiting for the moment when I’d finally have enough of trying to do it on my own or worse, the moment when I finally was incapacitated from the trying.  Unfortunately for me, it was the latter. 

          In this process of God re-training me in how to approach life, He’s shown me that when we stop trying to be perfect or look like we have it all together – we have a lot more energy to make progress toward actually becoming the person that we hope we look like.  Example A (now don’t laugh, this is real stuff folks) – I used to spend so much time getting ready to work out: fussing over whether my outfit matched and my ponytail was just right and my bangs were straightened and even wanting to ensure that I looked slim - but then I would hardly ever actually workout because I didn’t have the time/energy to get ready to work out.  Seriously, to some of you I know this might seem ridiculous, but I really just did not feel confident enough in me to just put on a t-shirt and shorts and throw my hair up and go for a run.  I was afraid people were judging me and I felt self-conscious...these fears were crippling me from daily life functioning. 

          God helped me to realize that I have value right now – just how I am, whether or not I look good, work out, eat healthy, clean my house, etc.  No matter what He is in love with me.  And you too, my friend.  And so, for a time, using example A, I would just throw on the first t-shirt and shorts in my drawer and put my hair in a pony and without looking in the mirror, go for a run.  I’ll be honest, the first time I did it was at night – so no one could really see me that well anyway, but it was still a big step for me!  For some of you this example may seem silly, but you know you struggle with these desires in other areas.  And I had to force myself to do this for a time - grabbing the first thing not looking in the mirror and going.
       As God has worked me, this crazy thing happened, I realized that it’s ok to like a cute outfit to workout, but that even if I look crazy, it’s better to at least workout, and I'll workout a lot more frequently when I’m not so worried about how perfect I look or perform, and then I end up feeling better because I took better care of myself...thus even looking better too!

          I read this book “Comfortable in Your Own Skin” by Dr. Debrah Newman, that really helped me in this particular area of body confidence.  She has an exercise where you go through and calculate the number of hours you spend monthly on your appearance (even good things like exercise and skincare), and she talks about a healthy range of time.  Her particular phrase “finding the time to heal” really stuck with me, and I realized that the less time I spent on trying to look well (not just as it relates to my appearance but even trying to make sure my house appeared clean for guests after I just had my second child) the more energy I had to heal and that gave me the energy I need to make progress in the areas that I really desire.

          I began the year with a New Year’s Resolution to avoid looking in the mirror, but God really lay on my heart about a month in that it isn’t looking at my reflection that’s evil.  I did need to stop for a while so that I could regain my sight and focus in on what’s really important, but it wasn't that extreme forever.  So then I changed my resolution to choosing to like what I see in the mirror, but even after a time I recognized that was out of balance too.  I can see that I still have pounds to lose (both literally and metaphorically).    And the Word I believe I heard from God next was profound.  I need to resolve to let go of my desire for perfection and allow God to help me be satisfied with progress. 

Resolve to let go of my desire for perfection and allow God to help me be satisfied with progress.

        The only person who ever was and ever will be perfect is Jesus Christ.  And boasting about your flaws is just a cover up for insecurity too.  We need to get real about where we are hurting so we can help each other, but most importantly so we can bring it to light.  In the light, God can heal it! 

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