Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Keeping It Real

You know her. You know the perfect gal who has it all together--she is the model wife and mother, intelligent & wise, witty & fun. She can whip up a wonderful home-cooked meal in her pristinely kept home and host guests at the drop of a hat. She does all of this while maintaining her toned figure and manicured nails. You know her--a crazy figment of our very overactive and distorted imaginations!

The perfect woman. What does this mean? Unfortunately, I believe that we have taken the Proverbs 31 woman and morphed her into something that is far from the goal to be striving for. The focus has become much more on being "perfect," than bringing glory to God and honoring Him.

In her new book co-written with Stacey MacDonald (Passionate Housewives Desperate for God), Jennie Chancey writes about he bondage of perfectionism.

Perfectionism is the false idea that a righteous man never falls- or when he does, he certainly doesn't admit it, lest he discourage everyone who is watching him run!

Where do we get this crazy idea? We are sinners, saved only by the grace of God. We are going to fall. We are not going to be perfect. While this realization is not an excuse to "embrace our inner slob," as Chancey states, we must not try to put on the perfect persona. We must be real and authentic is our pursuit of holiness, submitting humbly to the process of sanctification--which is sometimes a bumpy and painful process as He refines us.

Jennie also writes:

At its heart, perfectionism is sinful pride. We want others to think well of us, to admire us, and to desire to follow our example.

Too many times, we can rationalize all the efforts we put forth, saying we are seeking to honor Him. I know I must aways make sure my motives are focused on Him and not on what I may get out of it. I think it can be so tempting to present ourselves as "having it all together." This can be particularly easy on our blogs!

As we seek to encourage one another in our spiritual walks, may we remember that "His strength is made perfect in weakness (II Corinthians 12:9). He uses us to minister to others when our motives are pure and we are real with others. No one likes a "fake" person.

Jennie writes:

You know how we can encourage each other best? It's not by playing the role of Have-It All Hannah or Do-It All Doris. It's by loving others enough to meet them where they are while being what we are: fellow sinners in need.

Instead of worrying what others think about us, we need to care about what God thinks of us, measuring ourselves by the unchanging standard of God's word rather than comparing ourselves to others. Instead of looking to modern-day "experts" for answers, we need to return to the "old paths" of Scripture, where there is "rest for our souls" (Jeremiah 6:16). Instead of seeking to make a name for ourselves or be "important," we need to thankfully embrace the fact that God works through humble people, small steps, and what the world considers insignificant and often thankless work.

So as you go through your day, be real. While passionately pursuing Christ and holiness, don't fall into Satan's trap of pursuing perfectionism. Allow God to redeem our failures and weaknesses for His Glory. Submit your will and pride to Him--He can use you to minister and encourage others.

So many of you out there have ministered to me with your struggles and "realness." Let's keep it real!


Melissa @ Breath of Life said...

Ohhh...I SO need to read this book! I'm adding it to my wish list.

Natalie said...

It's so hard to "keep it real" in a world that has unrealistic views of what we should be. I have to often tell myself that it's okay not to "have it all together".

Xandra said...

That is so true about presenting an image on our blogs. Who will know? The chances of me meeting any of the people I blog with face to face are quite slim. I often find myself editing posts to make it sound better to people I think will read it, instead of just writing what I think, feel and experience (which is sort of the point of my blog LOL!)

Thanks for the encouragement...I think we could all use some in this world of comparisons to an unrealistic, unachievable standard.


Lisa said...

Sounds like a great book. I feel like I do ok with the what-you-see-is-what-you-get lifestyle, but I have a had time with the perfectionism part. Obviously, I can't "do it all" but how do I decide which things to cut out? I try to check my priorities against God's on a regular basis, but its still hard to feel like I'm doing ok.

Thanks for sharing your take...it was an excellent reminder/kick in the pants!

Deidre said...

What a breath of fresh air to read this post, Kelly! I need to read this book. I think I'm doing a great job at prioritizing and doing the right thing, and then let someone throw a wrench in my plans and I come unglued. I spend too much time trying to be how people think I should be.

Thanks for the reminder.

Wendy said...

I am reading this book now and have really liked it.

Great post!

Linda said...

Well said. I did a post on being real a while back and that is so what I want to be. I love what she said about how we should be more concerned with what God thinks of us than others. So True!
Once again, with the Lord's leading, you have pulled me back in to where He wants me to be.

Mike said...

Goes with men, too.


Kim said...

Great post...I know it is a great temptation for women to get caught up in the perfectionistic mentality...so much of it does come from the world and the desires of our flesh...the pride of life. We want to appear to be wonderful to others.

Transparency is so important because it is when we see our true selves...with struggles and temptations, that we see that we truly need the Lord and others in our life.

You have touched on something we really need to do--be real and walk along side others to help them be real,too.

Susie said...

Great post! Keeping it real in a society where so much of what we see in media is simply not real can be a real struggle for women. I love reading honest blogs like this that always bring us back to God and His purposes and plans for women.

Sarah said...

Love this one. So true! Thanks for keeping it real :)

Dianne said...

Good thoughts. Sometimes I wonder if the Christian line of "come to Jesus and he will save you from your sins and then you'll want to live right so you can please God" contributes to this perfectionism plague? Grace is grace, before, during and after our conversion. We can no more live right than we can come to Christ.

kmom3 said...

I was once encouraged by a mentor of mine that it is okay not to be perfect for my children. As much as I just commented about how I am living in front of them, I have to also realize I won't ever be perfect. I have to release myself from the overwhelming pressure of perfectionism and know that I will have to go to them at times and apologize or say "Mommy made a mistake."
My kids aren't perfect, nor will they ever be...so they won't be able to identify with a mommy who pretends she has it all together.

Thanks for these great posts!