“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” — 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NIV)
Do you struggle with perfectionism? You’re not alone.
Perfectionism often stems from an underlying fear of failure. While not always competitive in nature, perfectionists have unreasonably high expectations of themselves and others.
As a recovering perfectionist, I know this game so well. Oh, to be the perfect wife… the perfect mom… the perfect professional… the perfectly balanced blend of all three!
Here’s the thing: We are not perfect. And as a culture, we need to stop celebrating the pursuit of perfection. Perfectionism is downright dangerous and a hinderance to joy, peace and harmony in life.
I’m comforted to know that God’s love isn’t something we can earn or achieve — it’s given to us freely. He loves us, even in our imperfect brokenness. His grace is sufficient for our flawed imperfections.
I’m blessed to welcome guest blogger Janea Lewis — my sister by blood and in Christ — as she testifies to God’s grace through an authentically (im)perfect mommy moment.
Grace in (im)Perfection
by Janea Lewis
3:45 a.m. Uuuuuuuuggggggghhhhhh… Baby’s crying.
I pray that he goes back to sleep, because I haven’t slept through the night in a year. Between getting up to use the bathroom during pregnancy and the early stages of infancy, sleep is not something I’m familiar with as of late.
I feel as though being tired has become part of my personality — as well as other things that aren’t so forgivable. Negativity and lies surround my thoughts like a piranha would a slab of beef, waiting to devour me.
I fumble to get my slippers and sweatshirt on, trying not to wake my
snoring sleeping husband. I feel my soft, squishy belly folds move and I cringe a little. I think about that gym membership special they have going at the YMCA.
I readjust my crazy, sleep worn hair into a tight bun, just get it out of my face. I think about how I hate my hair cut and that it always just ends up in a pony tail anyway. But am I holding on to too much extra “baby fluff” to pull off short hair again?
I resolve to do my hair tomorrow, because I know my husband likes it and always compliments me when I do. Then I don’t have to do it again for a few days, at least (thank God for dry shampoo, am I right?).
I stumble into my son’s room and I begin to make his bottle. As his formula is mixing, I feel another twinge of mom guilt about not being able to breastfeed.
As I change his diaper, I remember the piles of laundry needing to be done, the dirt by the front door that needs to be swept, and the dishes that are still in the sink.
I hear my daughter rustling in her bed next door, and wonder if I am doing enough for her since her brother came along. I worry for her and for her future.
Sometimes, I cry as we rock. Mostly tired, eyes-stinging, hormonal cries. But other times, it’s more.
I cry for my kids and for their futures. I cry for my family members experiencing pain I can’t take away. I cry because I don’t like how I look and feel about myself.
I cry because I feel overwhelmed with the idea of two kids, husband, household, teaching… I have placed such high expectations on myself (and imagined that others place these expectations even though they tell me over and over again that they don’t). I feel like I can’t handle it.
I cry because life can just be so…… “life – y.”
At this point, my son is crying, too — though a burp and the inevitable shower of spit-up. It startles me awake. As I wipe him up and put the bottle back in his mouth, he gives me a look. A look that brings me to understand that God is where I am. I am being shown God’s grace by my newborn son.
He doesn’t care if I’m put together for him. He needs my capable arms to help him fall asleep.
He doesn’t care that I’m hanging on to about 20 lbs of baby weight. He needs my soft body to snuggle him close.
He doesn’t care that I’m exhausted. He knows he can still count on my fast fingers for a fast diaper change.
He doesn’t care what I look like… or that my hair is up in a bun — again. He wants to hear my calming voice singing to him.
He doesn’t care that I’m in sweats, with no make-up, and have wicked morning breath. He still gives me smiles that light up his whole face, even in the dark of his room.
I realize at that moment — at 4 o’clock in the morning — that my newborn son sees me as God sees me — not perfect, but perfectly suited for the task at hand. No one else can do the job quite like I do.
They both see my value even when I can’t. They both call to me in the middle of the night for a specific purpose, and know they can count on me to respond.
The world may not agree — but to my son, and to my God, I am enough.
About the Author
Janea Lewis is a wife, a mother, an early-childhood education professional and a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ. She resides with her husband, David and two children, Jovie and Dexter, in Mansfield, Ohio.