Imagine the most perfect woman you know. She may be a friend, a relative, or a celebrity, it doesn’t matter how you know her. Think about all the reasons you admire her, want to be like her, and, in the interest of being true to yourself, how you beat yourself up over why you aren’t her.
Take mental stock of all the major life event you’ve been through in the last twelve months. Things like: a new serious relationship, a broken relationship, family members becoming estranged, moving, starting or ending school, having kids, losing a job, getting a job, buying a house, paying off credit card debt, taking care of ill parents, having a major surgery…The list goes on and on, right?
Take the first list about your role model and the second list of your life. Project all the things you’ve been through onto that perfect woman, and still hold her to the same standard as you do yourself.
Does she hold up to your list and stay perfect?
This is just a brief exercise of why we need to be more open with each other. Honesty, transparency, or just plain authenticity – pick your buzzword, we need more of it.
Up until the point that my counselor walked me through this exercise, I was angry at God for taking away my health, my mind, and control over my life. In that anger, I beat myself up and railed at God for every imperfection and every way I felt short of this ideal woman that I saw in my mind.
Sure, I thought I knew this amazing woman of God and I was striving to be like her, but I was failing to realize that she was or had gone through really hard moments in her life, and had confronted those with God’s grace, not anger or fear.
I had to stop being me and accept God’s grace that he was freely giving to me, the grace I was so obviously ignoring.
I was focusing on my scars, not on his.
Not only was I so focused on myself and what I couldn’t do, I wasn’t able to see what God was doing through the trials.
We all have our own struggles, but we are also experts at closing each other off to our struggles and expecting us to be the same superman or superwoman of those around us.
Before you go and tweet your sins, or start a pity party about the hard things you’ve been through, consider this: God’s grace covers it.
The verse is not, “Be perfect because your neighbor is perfect” and it’s not “Be perfect or I won’t love you.” It says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
This perfection is not a standard or a law for us to live up to – it’s Christ working through us.
Hebrews 7:11-12 (ESV)
11Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron? 12For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well.
When was the last time you let yourself feel His grace?
When was the last time you opened up to someone about a rough time in your life and they gave you grace?
When was the last time you gave grace to someone else?
First, show your scars to Christ. Pour out the pain, frustration, anger, and fear to him, and let his love, grace, and peace overwhelm you.
Then find someone you can open up to in honest, authentic community – a sister, a mother, a friend, a mentor. If you aren’t comfortable sharing your scars on the internet, I understand, but you can always reach out to me on Twitter or email.
You have scars and I have scars from this difficult, imperfect life on earth – but if we hide them and pretend that no one has to see them, we are cutting ourselves off from the community and denying that we need Christ’s love and grace to change those scars into stories of redemption.
We can’t be an authentic community of Christ followers if we never talk to one another about what we are, have, or are afraid we will go through. It’s even more detrimental to the community if we try to hide our scars from God’s love, grace, and peace.