Two years ago, I began reading blogs with the view toward starting my own. In posts by Christian mothers, I kept running across comments like this:
“I homeschool my children, but I’m not perfect.”
“I use cloth diapers, but I’m not perfect.”
Really? Why did you think that I thought you were?
In topics that have nothing to do with perfection, why is it necessary to mention to your readers that you’re not perfect?
I was puzzled. What did I not understand?
Most bloggers are the age of my daughters, so I decided I had a generation-gap problem. This bothered me. If women in their 30s need to confess their imperfection, what had my generation done to our daughters? What did we need to confess?
I kept feeling that “if this wasn’t sad, it would be funny.” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Then, out of the blue, came a message inviting me to join the Imperfect Mom Confessional Series.
So I laughed!
But if I didn’t understand the topic, was I qualified to take part? Only if imperfection was the top qualification.
While I’ve been light-hearted about my relationship with this topic, it is not a laughing matter. Any trained psychologist would tell us that there is a fine line between a healthy desire to do one’s best and a pathological fear of making a mistake. The road from perfectionism to mental illness is short, and on that road, we meet insomnia, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and anorexia.
I’m neither prepared nor qualified to discuss any of those diagnoses, but I want to acknowledge them and urge anyone who feels they have a serious problem to seek medical help. If that is you, I want you to know that my heart goes out to you. I pray that you will seek healing with an able and understanding medical practitioner.
So back to my problem. Writing for the Imperfect Mom Confessional, I wanted to understand why bloggers need to tell us they’re not perfect. I have felt like Rip Van Winkle, waking up after a very long sleep to a world I don’t understand and being expected to write about it!
Because I’m a teacher as well as a writer, I had to research this problem.
I wanted to find someone to blame!
My research led me to the following candidates:
Barbie, Wonder Woman, and Martha Stewart!
You think I’m making a feeble attempt to be funny? No! I promise. If I wanted to be funny, those are not the three I would choose.
I’m not even going to try to explain those three choices. I’m sure that you can do as good a job as I to think of reasons why all three of those “icons” are worthy of mention in the Perfectionist Hall of Fame.
I looked back a little further in history and discovered a book entitled, of all things, Perfection Salad (which was an apt metaphor for my research). It’s about women and cooking at the turn of the century. I didn’t enjoy the book, so I didn’t read every word, but it did give me some insight into something–not someONE–else to blame for the perfection problem. Answer: The Industrial Revolution. This period of history initiated a pressure for perfection, especially among women.
Not willing to dump all blame on the above-mentioned possibilities, I continued my search.
Now we’re all the way back to 1836 and Lectures to Professing Christians by the great revivalist of the Second Great Awakening, Charles Grandison Finney. (Anyone with the name “Grandison” would have to be a perfectionist.) Finney’s most famous lectures are on Christian perfectionism, the doctrine that Christians can and should live sinless lives.
And now for a long sigh. I had known all along that my search for something or someone to blame was bound to lead me to “the sin problem.”
My search through secular sources, for the elusive ingredients in “Perfection Salad,” revealed only a dab of insight here and a smidgen of understanding there. If we want more than a dab and a smidgen, we’ll have to turn to God’s Word. At last!
Matthew 5:48 says,
“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
This is Jesus talking in the Sermon on the Mount. Is Jesus purposely setting the bar higher than human effort can possibly reach so that we will depend totally on Him?
The word “perfect” in the original language does not coincide with our definition of the word. It refers to being “mature” and “complete” in Christ. It doesn’t mean that we are to be sinless perfection.
Consider this in the light of Hebrews 10:14:
“For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.”
That “one offering” is Jesus Himself, so this verse makes it clear that it is Jesus who does the perfecting, and don’t you just love that “for all time” phrase!
Why do young women feel the need to insert the “I’m not perfect” phrase in their blog posts? I’m still not sure; but finally, clinging to Hebrews 10:14, I’m okay with it.
How blessed we are, how thankful we should be, that perfection depends only on Jesus Christ, for all time!
About the Author: Rosemary Lackey is a mother of two grown daughters, Rosemommy to their husbands, Mimi to three grandsons, wife to her husband of 44 years, and teacher to a roomful of international students. On her blog, Daily Bouquets, she is Storyteller, called to write and to live out the only Story that really matters! Also find her on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.
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