the haunting of imperfection
Women spend most of our lives worrying that we are not good enough. It’s possible men do too, but I have no firsthand knowledge of this, so I am wiring from my own experience today. This disease of not being good enough has another name: perfectionism. This idea we get in our heads of what we are supposed to be can be debilitating, painful, and relentless. It also robs us of all our joy.
I have made a lot of mistakes in the last few months. I feel like it’s a lot more than I normally do, but the reality is that I have probably always made this many mistakes. It’s just that now one major thing in my life has shifted: I am in a season of complete and total raw emotion, so those mistakes are magnified by the woundedness of my own heart.
But here’s the thing: making the mistake isn’t really all that painful. It’s the haunting the mistake does to you afterwards that is torture. Because you can’t go back and change what you did or what you said. You can’t go back and take it all away. It’s out there, for the entire world to see, and your imperfection is broadcasting in Times Square, just to make sure no one missed it.
[I may be exaggerating here, but that’s what I tend to do around here if you haven’t noticed.]
But the screw up really does feel like Times Square. It feels big and loud and noticeable. And relentless in its “Notice me! Notice me!” persona. And when your mistakes hurt others, it might as well be shown on a loop across the moon. Because it feels that big and important. And that just kills me inside.
Imperfection is like sandpaper to a wounded heart. Because when our hearts are wounded, part of the process (at least, my process) is continually asking ourselves what we could have done, what we should have done… and thinking about what you can’t believe you did. And all that pain rubs up against an already open and gaping wound, making the pain all the more vibrant. And because the haunting of the mistake is a constant revisit of what you did, the wound can’t heal. The reminder of what you did just keeps rubbing and rubbing against the wound.
I want to avoid this haunting. Because it hurts, and this haunting is preventing the healing. And very little is in our control after we’ve made the mistake. We can repent, we can ask for forgiveness, but if the person we hurt won’t or doesn’t respond, we can’t do anything about that. And the haunting gets worse… because we can’t fix or repair it. And revisiting what we did is just an unhealthy manifestation of our desire to control. We can’t control anything else, so our minds and hearts just run it over and over in our mind… perhaps even hoping it will turn out differently.
What will it take for me to live in the reality of Jesus’ perfection for me and God’s grace offered to me? This isn’t God haunting me with all my past sins, if I’ve repented. (Because certainly the Holy Spirit is at work in that.) I am already cloaked in the righteousness of Christ. But I berate and berate myself because I screwed up and whoever I hurt won’t forgive me. I am unable to let go and rest in the knowledge that I have done all I can.
Satan loves the haunting. And God’s grace feels too easy, so I punish myself. I may not love the haunting, but I fear I believe that I deserve it.