When I was in a high school Home Economics class, I was frustrated by my inability to sew a perfectly straight hem on a summer top. I had ripped out sections and resewn it over and over. I remember Mrs. Brown telling me that it was “straight enough for an active teenager.” So, I finally stopped trying. Whenever I wore that top, I would look at the bright green stitching and see the stops and starts of that hem. It was an example of my struggles to be perfect. As an adult, I worked in a building that had mirrored elevators. I never enjoyed those elevators. The light was harsh and the reflection never looked as good in those mirrors as in my home mirror. As a result, I tried not to look at the elevator reflection. I didn’t like it, so I ignored it and looked the other way.
We all have ideals in mind. Perfect hair, a perfect body, the perfect relationship. We strive to be the perfect parents and rear the perfect family. I tried to be the best at everything. If I wasn’t sure I would be the best at something, I just didn’t try. Failure was not acceptable in my world. It’s easy to pretend life is perfect. Social media is quite handy when creating the “perfect” picture. If we could only ignore the mirror of truth!
Too often, when the realization dawns that this perfect world doesn’t really exist, the goal mutates. It becomes extremely important to maintain the illusion of perfection. We’ve all known the woman who posts about her perfect family with perfectly posed pictures amid the chaos of teen drug use and spousal abuse. You’ve probably had a conversation with someone about how much they dislike spending time with a dysfunctional parent only to see the “best parent in the world” posted on social media. Or maybe, you’ve been with that couple that profess to love each other and to be excited about their life together. But, they only complain about their partner in private. Truth is lost in the illusion.
I know how easy it is to fall under the spell of “the need for approval”. It is so very hard to keep the facade in place. I have worked to make sure those around me are content and happy. I have been known to jump through hoops to take care of things for my children. I have worked long hours and take criticism very personally even when it’s not meant to be. My desires often take 2nd (or 3rd) place behind those of my family members. All of this in an effort to be “good enough”. And more often than not, I fail.
With help, I’m learning that I am already “good enough.” I can only do my best. If others are not happy with my choices in life, I cannot change that. I can choose not to spend time with those that continue to manipulate with disapproval. I’ve learned so much about grace and forgiveness over the past two years. I’m learning to accept and even embrace what I see in my mirror.
Is your mirror cracked? Will you break free in 2018 and be the true and honest version of yourself?
“What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself.” Ephesians 4″:25 MSG