“Real girls aren’t perfect; perfect girls aren’t real.” - Barbie
About five years ago, I found these words written with a dry erase marker on my daughter’s bathroom mirror. She was in middle school at the time. I was shocked.
My first thought was, Barbie really said that? Miss Perfect herself? Who knew she had it in her!
My second thought was, My daughter wrote this on her mirror? Written out in her fun, girly handwriting, those words spoke volumes to me about what she was wrestling with inside. And I found a sense of relief and peace knowing she had staked herself in this truth - enough to write it on her mirror, where she would see it every day. It stayed there for months.
In a few of her blogs on our MPC website, Stef Blackwell refers to herself as a “burning hot choleric”. Well, Jenny Klement often refers to herself as a “recovering perfectionist”.
I use the word recovering, because I have worked and prayed for healing from this awful thorn in my side for years. Of course, depending on the day, the people in my family might argue that recovering part.
Someone like me who struggles with perfectionism, (and by the way, I believe that every mom struggles with this in some way or another, because we live in a world that is OBSESSED with perfection) has a really hard time wrapping her brain around these words from Song of Songs, “You are altogether beautiful, and there is no flaw in you.” (4:7)
“Altogether beautiful.” Doesn’t that mean altogether perfect?
“No flaw in me.” How is that even possible?
See, a perfectionist by their very nature has an aversion to flaws. We do not like flaws – like, AT ALL; and we do a really good job beating ourselves up (and sadly the people we love) when we find one. If we’re really honest with ourselves, we’d quite prefer if everyone and everything around us were flaw-less. (It took counseling to help me admit that one. Ha!)
One of the ways I’ve struggled with perfectionism over the years is feeling like my house had to be perfectly clean. Showroom status. And I would turn in to one of those Nazi moms whenever someone was coming over – flying around like a psycho woman trying to make my home (and the people in it) look perfect before our guests showed up at the door.
Well, one day I just couldn’t pull it off. My dear friend had arrived, and things were far from perfect. I could feel myself getting more and more uneasy. Everywhere I turned, things were not as I thought they should be. The sink was full of dishes, the floors were dirty, my kids were wild and unmannerly, and suddenly I remembered I hadn’t wiped down the toilet before she came. Noooooooo! I had three boys in my brood, none of whom I had successfully trained yet to "be a sweetie and wipe the seatie". Arg. There was no saving me now. God only knows what that toilet looks like!
Feeling like a total failure, I erupted with a litany of apologies and explanations as to why things were such a mess. As if she knew I was about to crumble, my friend (who was single at the time) grabbed me by the shoulders, looked intently into my eyes and said, “Jenny! I LOVE being here! I LOVE being in your home. It’s so beautiful, because it’s so real. I would give anything to have this. Jenny, there is beauty in the messiness of life!”
That is a day I will never forget; when truth was spoken into me that actually stuck.
Here we are in mid-January, and we've just emerged from the season of Christmas. Our homes and churches and stores were adorned with Christmas decorations, including the nativity scene. It's all still so fresh in our memories, especially mine, since the Klement's literally JUST put our Christmas decorations away this weekend! We just packed the nativity away yesterday. It sat in my dining room on a sideboard – pretty, peaceful, quiet, all aglow with light.
But have you ever stopped and thought about what the real nativity scene was actually like? Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World, was born into a messy, dirty, noisy and stinky BARN! Even worse, it was down in a cave! Imagine the air quality! That, my friend, tells us something HUGE… that He is totally comfortable there. Our Savior Jesus is totally comfortable being born into our messy, stinky and dirty lives – because that’s what’s real… and real is beautiful. (Insert the sound of a chorus of angels singing)
Messy isn't shameful. Messy is beautiful. And Jesus wants to meet me right in my mess. He’s totally at home – right there with me and all my imperfections. What a 180 degree turnaround for my perfectionistic brain.
Since that day, I have tried to see my life through a new lens – and even more than that, to experience life with a new joy and freedom - that yes, messy is beautiful, because messy is real. And I have discovered again and again that there really is beauty in the messiness of life, because that's where Jesus meets me.
If you haven’t heard of a TED TALK, google it. If you haven’t heard of Brene Brown, google her too.
Brene Brown has a wildly popular TED TALK on You Tube called “The Power of Vulnerability”, with over 32 million views. What in the world does she say in that video that has attracted 32 million views?!
Brene talks about having “the courage to be imperfect.”
The COURAGE to be imperfect.
And then she defines courage: The word courage comes from the Latin word “cer”; meaning heart. And Brene goes on to explain that the original definition of courage is – “to tell the story of who you are from your whole heart.”
She also reveals that in her years of research, Brene discovered that people who had “the COURAGE to be imperfect”… also had the gift of authenticity – they were willing to let go of who they thought they should be; to be who they truly were; their true, real self.
The courage to be imperfect… the gift of authenticity… the freedom to be our true real self…
I want that.
And my friend, I’m pretty sure that’s what you want too.
The courage to be imperfect, the gift of authenticity, the freedom to be our true, real and messy selves - is something we all long for in our friendships, in our marriages, in our families; with our children.
But like Brene said – it’s a gift; and it requires courage and vulnerability. And we will never experience it in our relationships with others until we first experience it in our own relationship with our Loving Heavenly Father… His complete, total, and unconditional love.
And THAT is the whole purpose of the self page in the Mother’s Prayer Companion. A place for us to begin to have the courage and vulnerability to be real with ourselves – about who are, and who we’re not. A place for us to lay bare our messiness and imperfection. A place to let Him wash over us with the His truth – so that we can experience His complete, total and unconditional love.
Moms, our daughters need to see more than words on a mirror. Our sons do too. They need to see us reflecting back to them - the courage to be imperfect; the courage to be real; telling the story of who we are from our whole heart – so they can do the same.
Jesus is with you – in the midst of your mess – and He loves you right there. Ask Him to give you the courage to be imperfect and real…
… because real girls aren’t perfect. Real girls are imperfect - and altogether beautiful - just that way.