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Tuesday, February 16, 2010

.I'm {Not} Perfect.

....but I sure do like people to think that I am.

Wow. That is really hard to admit. It is something that I have battled with for a long time. In trying to be more authentic though, both on my blog and in real life - let me tell you the real life bit is really hard - I need to write this post.

This morning during my quiet time I was studying the book of Esther. I have been on a forever long journey through this teeny book of the Bible. I am working through Beth Moore's Bible Study Esther:It's Tough Being a Women. I started it this summer, but found it too in-depth to really put the time into it that I needed to while ministering at camp. So I had to restart a lot of it this fall to really get out of it what I wanted to, and at that I have taken it very slowly and mixed in other things into my quiet time. I tend to be very eclectic like that when it comes to reading of any kind. I like reading a few novels at once, and that is the same for even Bible studies I find. I probably really should focus on just one thing.

Back to this morning. I was reading chapter five, where after fasting and praying, Esther dresses in her royal gown to illegally go before her husband the king in order to beseech him not to kill the Jewish people and to reveal Haman's wickedness. I am sure you are familiar with the story. I thought I was, but am realizing I only knew the water-downed Sunday Schoolish, veggie tales story of Esther. It is so much more than that, and I urge you to study it on your own. Beth Moore so wisely brought up the point that

Esther did what she needed to do, clearly the will of God, but not as one perfectly collected and confident. pg. 112

(She came to this conclusion through study of some of the Hebrew words and context.)

I am going to continue to quote directly from Beth Moore. As I read these words my heart quickened and pulse raced.

Beloved do we believe that the only way to do something acceptably is to do it perfectly? Sometimes God is more aware than we of just how much He requires of us. He knows how hard it's going to be for us. pg. 112

Do you struggle with perfectionism and perhaps could use a little ministry? Do you feel if you can't do something to perfection, you ought not to bother? Do you frequently feel pressure to perform tasks that will result in applause? When you blow it, do you wait a long time before trying again? Do you feel the need to always make an 'A'? pg.112

Beth might as well have just written those words directly to me. She went on to say how we should indeed always give and do our best, but that doesn't mean perfection and just because it is not perfect does not mean that God is not pleased with our performance. Phew. Really? So God really is more concerned with our heart than how we perform and appear. Why is this so hard for me to comprehend? Why do I continue to seek the approval of people rather than God?

I am not a very open person, which may come as a surprise to anyone who has followed my blog for awhile. But my blog is {mostly} candy coated, along with my tweets, my facebook statuses, and if you talk to me in person that is usually the Tiffany I present. If I actually do admit to you in person that I am having a bad day or a rough time, you can pretty much count yourself as a forever friend. I just don't do that. I am going out on a limb here, though.

My house is not always tidy.

My children are not always dressed perfectly.

My make up is not always on or my hair done.

I don't always cook nutritious and healthy meals for my family.

My mothering is not always godly.

My marriage is not always Christ-centered.

But I want you to think that it is.

I am trying to learn to just be me, whoever she is, to do my best, to give my best and do it all for the glory of God. I know I am going to fail. I fail every single day. I think it is time to be more honest about those failures. I like to think of myself as a positive person and I really do see the sunshine in things quite often. However, if I am being honest with myself and not feeling sunshiny or seeing rose colors; I don't want to pretend just to make myself look better.

The masquerade of perfectionism gets old.

I have lost friends over this, because I simply cannot live up to and be the perfect friend and the perfect mommy and the perfect wife - something always has to give. Of course it is not going to be my children or my husband, so it's friendships. I have tried to live up to perfectionism - or what I think is perfect, and I have gotten burned out. So I have sadly had to start over. I am really truly working on authentic relationships in my life.

I am taking off the mask.

And I am scared.


The Ashworth family said...

Tiff - I am right where you are on this one. I just started the Esther study last week at a church here - I am looking forward to growing and changing as I learn and study. Authenticity is so scary for me - I am so afraid of someone seeing the "real" me although at the same time, I desparately want to be known, truly known. I live in that crazy balance all the time, and God has been convicting me of my need to please Him first and only and the other areas work themselves out. Love you.

Lisa said...

I am right there with you. One of the things the Lord has been speaking to my heart is, that I need to be more vulnerable. I would rather do almost ANYTHING than that! It brings to mind the scripture in 1 Sam. 15, "To obey is better than sacrifice..." Let's take off our masks together and walk in the freedom that comes from being perfectly "imperfect"!

Heather said...

I know exactly what you are talking about! I am so afraid to do things sometimes because I want to be perfect at it right away; I also want others approval. I try to get past that and just care what God thinks but sometimes it is so hard. I literally get myself feeling sick about things sometimes because I'm afraid of what others think.
I'll be praying for you in this area when I pray for myself, too.

Christy said...

I am Christy and I'm anything but perfect, but oh how I love Jesus! I thankfully have never been a perfectionist, but did struggle for a long time about keeping up appearances that I had few problems, etc. I will be praying for you as you take this new walk.

mosey said...

I could have written this post and isn't God's grace AMAZING!!!

rameelin said...

I love that you wrote this post. I think alot of women struggle with this. However, long ago I knew that my life was not perfect (from having an alcoholic father, an alcoholic uncle, a drug addicted grandmother, etc) and I was not going to present it as if it were. I am who I am because of those things that have shaped me. I am so real that sometimes I think it gives people the wrong impression of my heart, although I pray that my words be used for the exact opposite. My sister struggles with perfection and I want to cry for her. How exhausting! I can only imagine...but I am praying for you on this journey as well, because let me tell you--it is so very freeing to be who you are and to not care who knows it. The Lord already knows, right? Why not strip it away for the rest of the world. You are a beautiful creation. Flawed, yes. As am I. But beautiful to our King. I'm sure Jesus is pleased with this post, Tiff! ♥

Unknown said...

thank you for this. i am much like you. i needed this. thanks so much for sharing your heart. i absolutely love your blog. told my husband all about it!! keep doing what you are doing!

Jenilee said...

great post! I have been in this process for a while now... it is not easy to let people see the good and the bad and balance that with the position of being a pastor's wife. I am learning more each day. finding God's balance in this area. thanks for sharing what you are learning!

Theresa said...

Something God challenges me on DAILY is my fear of failure and my fear of how people perceive me. Oh my goodness, do I mean daily! :o)
I read those quotes you posted 3 times... I may have to take a look at that Beth Moore study. I've never followed through a whole study before and my mom-in-law is always telling me how she loves Beth Moore studies.
Thanks for sharing, Tiffany! It's great getting to know you :o)

Jenna said...

I am also doing this study and I think we are supposed to view Video 5 next week? We still have not actually started the study again b/c of our winter break (and all this SNOW!). It is cancelled again for tomorrow, I was looking forward to it.
I do the same thing with the books. I was reading four at the same time. I am done all but one. I may not finish, b/c I lost interest. Going to the library with the kiddos tomorrow to pick up a few more!

Stephanie said...

That sounds like a great study! I wrote a post today about similar things. About the desire for acceptance. It's a hard and vulnerable thing to be confident in God and confident in yourself to just be who you are and let that be enough. I'm right there with you in the far from perfect life. In fact, we all are. But the good thing is that we can still use our imperfections to positively impact peoples life.

Anonymous said...

As a recovering perfectionist - this really reasonates with me.

Thank you for sharing and for being so honest - it is not easy to do. But, the truth is NONE of us have it together.

Lana said...

You are a blessing!

I found you through Twitter and can totally relate to your post!

Glad I came over, blessings to you!!!

Lana @ ilovemy5kids

Melissa said...

I have been contemplating being more "real" on my blog. I think that is what God wants me to do, but I'm cautious about putting myself out there. Thanks for this post. I need that today.

Wander said...

It's so nice to find you. Your post is pretty on the spot for most of us. We don't want people to know....we struggle!
And we do! We're NOT perfect!

I like your courage to be open about it. Great job!

I also see that you're a ministry family. My husband is a minister too (he's not serving as a full-time pastor now). We left our church 2 years ago due to unhealthy leadership.
I know how it is to live on faith. We were at the mercy of other's so many times while serving God. It's wonderful to see God at work in your family's lives.

We know so many that have given up everything for the gospel. It's a sacrifice that regular people don't get.
I pray God blesses you......that your dreams come true. God has big plans for you. I can tell!

Tia said...

I can't thank you enough for this today. Perfectionism is something I struggle with everyday! And like I mentioned in my blog, it's not even like my husband or children demand it from me, I force it upon myself! And then that in turn makes for a very unhappy, ungodly wife and mother. A not so pretty to be around person in general. Unmasked.....I like that. I don't know if I can do it totally but I like it. One small layer at a time!

Melissa said...

I am the same way. I think *most* woman are these days. I think some of it is a cultural thing, and most of it is a sinful prideful thing.

I do struggle struggle struggle with this myself. I have very very few (none really) close friends because of my prideful fears that they will see who I really am and I will be rejected. It's sad that in my time of being so sick and in the hospital, Besides family, there isn't a single person whose friendship with me made it worth it for them to visit me. . . It's not an easy thing to admit.

I have blogged about this very thing not too many months ago. I think you read it and commented. . .

God has been teaching me about loving people honestly and openly with out fearing their rejection. He's teaching me that I should love expecting nothing in return. . . It's hard. It scares me, but God is good and loves me no matter what.

Anonymous said...

Tiffany, I applaud you for posting. I pray that it is freeing for my own life, learning to share and be transparent has led to a lot of growth. Not that it is easy, by ANY means!! Oh it's hard. Very hard. But it's worth it!!

I'm praying for you and your family this weekend...praying for God's perfect will and peace in that!!

Christy said...

You need to read Beth's new book - it is SO good and how perfectionism is the PERFECT coverup for insecurity. It really hit me hard and I know the Lord is going to do big things in me through reading it. I definitely recommend it!

Unknown said...

I love this post. I love your honesty, humility and transparency! So often as Christians we feel that we have to have it all together, be positive and encouraging to others, and always be resting in God's goodness. But life isn't like that... we all have struggles, doubts, questions and challenges at times and seasons. It's beautiful to allow others into our struggles and weaknesses, allow them to minister to us also, and truly see the body of Christ at work. Just imagine how draining it would be if we all kept up that image of perfection all the time! And what pressure that would put on others to be "perfect" also. Isn't it great and amazing that God loves us just the way we are, with all our flaws and imperfections???!!!


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