Monday, October 25, 2010

(im)perfect

A few weeks ago, I was talking with a dear friend who is also a pastor’s wife. She and her husband had just been to a minister’s conference where one of the featured speakers was a woman.  Who was gorgeous.  And exquisitely dressed.  And polished.  And a size four.

And my friend? She has struggled with her weight for much of her life and had just recently topped out at her heaviest weight ever.  Much to her dismay and distress.

She told me, “I was already hating myself when I got to the conference because of my weight and then a women gets up to speak who is bubbly and lovely and so very slim.   I left there feeling even worse than when I arrived. She was the very picture of perfection.”

Ahh. There’s the word.  Perfection.

Do you what word is a first cousin to perfection?  (You probably didn’t know words had first cousins, but they do.)  Perfection’s cousin is comparison.  Because when we see something or someone that appears perfect, we automatically compare ourselves. And because that person (or thing) is apparently perfect, it only stands to reason that we don’t measure up. We can’t measure up!  How can one measure up to something as impossible as perfection?

Pastor Steven Furtick from Charlotte, NC said, “There are NO perfect people...NO perfect jobs...NO perfect families...NO perfect churches. Only seemingly perfect people, jobs, families, and churches. This is important to remember because we can waste our time envying something that doesn’t really exist."

I struggle with this issue on several levels.

As A Pastor’s Wife:  I am very involved at our church with music, media production, some secretarial work, occasional teaching,  hosting many dozens of people for dinners, visiting parishioners, helping organize functions, etc.

But sometimes?  At the end of the day?  I start to think, “Well, this particular pastor’s wife directs a great choir and that particular pastor’s wife is very gifted at writing fabulous dramas, and this pastor’s wife has started a ministry to feed the homeless and that other pastor’s wife is in great demand as a speaker.  Maybe I should be doing all of those things so that I, too, can become the perfect pastor’s wife.

As A Blogger/Writer/Songwriter:  I’ve written songs since I was six, recorded twelve CD’s of original music, won Songwriting Grand Prize at the premier Christian songwriting event in the nation, traveled the country (with my family) full time for fifteen years singing, had a story published in Chicken Soup For the Soul, and am the author of two blogs, one of which has had close to 2 million hits.

However.  Recently I was glancing over some bio’s on a particular Christian website featuring different bloggers. This is what I read:   Amber has a degree in English/Creative Writing.   Shelly is a Senior Columnist and contributing writer.   Ruth recently wrote her first devotional book and became a licensed counselor.

Immediately I felt insecure and inferior and decidedly non-wonderful.  I thought, “I’ll never measure up.  I’ll never be as fabulous as them. Why do I even bother?” 

And to add insult to injury, the bio’s came complete with pictures of each of these women and of course they were perfectly put together, ultra stylish and uber cool.  Me?  I haven’t been ultra stylish and cool since, um, since . . . well, I don’t really think I ever have been cool. (Whatever cool is.)

Of course, I could go on and on.  And on.

I could write about dozens of categories where I am tempted to feel very much like I don’t measure up to some standard, or I don’t measure up to what someone else is doing.  Or saying.  Or writing.  Or how they’re dressing or doing their hair.  Or raising their child.  Or hosting their parties.  Or doing their job. Or even decorating their bathrooms or cooking their lasagna.

There are so many categories in which one can feel inferior!

But you know what?  Having lived forty-eight years now, having faced a few battles, and having earned a few gray hairs, I have pretty much decided that who I am right now is who I like.

I am such a long way from perfect that you can’t even believe it.   But I am also a long way from who I was twenty-three years ago, seventeen years ago, nine years ago, or one year ago.  I’m learning, and growing, and maturing, and stretching, and becoming more and more content with the non cool, non perfect person I am.

Yes, I have a lot of areas that need improvement.  And yes, I’ve squandered time and talent and opportunities along the way during my forty-eight years on the planet.  And yes, I could definitely be more accomplished in a lot of areas than I am right now.

But I’m no longer wasting my time shooting for perfection.  Or trying to be like this blogger or that pastor’s wife.  God only made one of me.  Billions have people have existed before me and so far as I know, NONE of them was Becky Campbell Smith.  Which makes me pretty wonderful, doesn’t it?  The only one, anywhere, exactly like me? And I’m living on this planet with the only one, anywhere, exactly like you?

That’s pretty cool, isn't it?  (In a sort of non cool way.)

So we’re in good company, you and I.  We’re both imperfect people on an imperfect planet.  We’ve both had the gift of life handed to us at birth and we’ve both been given a package of years in which to make something out of that gift.

Because in the end Zig Ziglar said it best, “Success is not measured by what you do compared to what others do; it is measured by what you do with the ability God gave you.” 

So here’s to success--yours and mine.  The success of understanding and celebrating that the only way to be happy in life is to compare ourselves with ourselves.  And no one else.

And realize that who we are is really pretty special.

Uniquely, incredibly, undeniably, (im)perfectly special.

 

 

17 Had Something To Say (Just click here!):

MN Mom said...

Becky, you are one beautiful, talented, amazing woman who is admired and loved by so many for how you use your many gifts! I am glad to hear you are accepting of yourself, even though it can be very difficult, especially in your role (among many) as a pastor's wife. I have the feeling that the beautiful size 4 speaker has a few issues of her own! Personally, you would be the person I am envious of, not that other woman.
OK, now you had better really feel good about yourself! Hope you are feeling better too.

lifebythecreek said...

God speaks to us in many ways, Becky. One thing that He does to me is to repeat a theme over and over in various ways (I guess He knows how hard-headed I am and that I surely will NOT hear Him the first time. Why should I be surprised that I have to do the same thing with my son?). Perfection has been a recurring theme in several different areas of my life in the past couple of weeks, and I know God is working on my heart. Trying to relieve some of the stress that I am feeling at not being perfect or anywhere near it. Thank you for being His "echo"... for hearing His words in your heart and pouring them out so that those of us who need them can take them in. Here's a link to an earlier blog post that I read that started the whole chain: http://www.danoah.com/2010/09/disease-called-perfection.html. Sending hugs to you... you are as close to perfect as can be found here on this earth, at least to me!

Vicky Elder said...

Thank you, Becky! I know you wrote that especially for me today. I so needed to hear just that. I think we all KNOW it, but hearing it from someone else ingrains it a little deeper. Thanks!

simplykristi said...

Becky,
I really love your post today! "Perfect" and "normal" are not part of my world... They just aren't. I don't know how much of my statuses that you read on FB. (I get pretty crazy there. LOL) Anyway, I post a lot of serious stuff for people to read. I talk a lot about living with a craniofacial anomaly.

It is what is on the inside that counts!

Guerrina said...

I didn't know I needed to hear this until I read it. Thanks, Becky, not only for your writing, but also for your humility and courage to write about such things!

Love Being a Nonny said...

Though I know God's grace and I KNOW HE loves me no matter what,I still struggle with being better than I am. Good Grief!! Thanks for this today!

Anonymous said...

Read and cried. Written w/ such wisdom and hard-won perspective.

love deb

Karen H., Hammond, IN said...

Personally, I think you're pretty special! I love reading your pages simply because you are you.

And btw - there is a church near me where the Pastor's wife is like you describe the size 4 woman. They also have a million dollar house. And people - not of their parish, I don't know anyone who goes there - talk about them, wondering how they can live in a million dollar house and she can be so "perfect" when they are preaching Christianity.

Anonymous said...

LOVED that!!

Natalie

jenny said...

Amen, Becky! The enemy of our souls would have us all feeling like losers when God has called us winners. Let's not let him rob us of our joy for one more instant. And by the way, I think YOU are pretty special just the way you are! God bless.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for helping all of us remember this. I personally think you are an awesome person, who God has given a talent to blog, share, pray and teach those of us out here. May God continue to bless you with these talents and I thank you for sharing them with all of us.
Hugs from Iowa,
Marjie

Lisa L said...

Every time I read your blog, I feel better. (Unless I'm worrying about your surgeries etc)..but you're so upbeat, and hilarious, and compassionate..you're such a lovely mom (how lucky your kids are!)...and I just feel uplifted somehow by your words. Just sayin'...

Nancy said...

What a great post! There's a quote I think of several times a week... I think that I read it in a book by Maria Shriver -- something along the lines of, "Perfectionism doesn't make you perfect. It only makes you feel inadequate."

Trying to be perfect is a waste of time and energy -- as is envying someone else who seems to be perfect, or have a perfect life or job or family, etc.... but we're all human, and we all waste that time and energy ;-)

Thank you for your wisdom and perspective -- I love your writing!

Rachael said...

I loved this! I need to reread it every day until it sinks in! Thanks.

Carrie B said...

Amen

MaryH said...

You seem to know when I need to hear the right words - I am pleased to share space on this with "just" you, how God made you. I need to soak in this message and apply it to myself.

Lisa from Georgia said...

Love. this. post!! It reminds me of some of your wonderful caringbridge posts!