In high school, I used to enjoy drawing. I was not good enough to get paid for it, but I always felt deep satisfaction when a portrait took shape.
This one was from my introspective sullen days when I strived to be perfect intellectually, physically, in relationships, and really in every area of my life. It’s not that different from now, even 18 years later.
Being flawless is hard. No one can really achieve it. Magazines, advertisements, and even people in our lives that we love and respect will remind us that our bodies are inadequate, our jobs aren’t respectable enough, or that we don’t have it all. It can feel a bit depressing. I’m so relieved that Christ covers all our imperfections. We are loved and sought after. We are His quest. Being reminded of this is satisfying to my soul.
In my research, I’ve been writing a bit about the paradox of perfection. As young girls, we are bombarded with images and ideas of what it means to be flawless and desirable. In our pursuit of perfection, we go to extremes. Millions of dollars are made from our insecurities. Blemish erasers, eyelash boosters, hair straighteners, hair curlers, tummy tuckers, breast enhancers, skin toners, and all the other ‘ers’ send us a message that we are not worthy or lovable unless we are the most perfect version of ourselves. Sad, since God thinks we are perfect as we are when we are covered in Christ.
As young girls turn into young women, the struggle persists–but it morphs. This is not a self-righteous message. As a 35 year old woman, I still struggle. Though the physical desires for perfection that plagued me from adolescence have somewhat diminished, now it’s morphed into ideals of perfection for my career, my mom-skills, how well I have decorated my house, how many papers I’ve published, how well-behaved my kids are, and how well-read I am. Each minute is an exhausting excursion of self-comparison and self-loathing. Either I hate myself for what I was a minute ago, or I hate myself for who I can’t compare to. What a trap.
I’m not perfect. I’m never going to be in this life on my own. It’s exhausting, until I remind myself that only in Christ can I be free. Let us not to disillusioned with self-obsession and self-loathing for God loves us just the way we are.