From Perfect to Imperfect
Early in my journey, I used to think I was going to become a Perfect Christian Woman, like the leaders I'd see up front at church.
There was one leader in particular whose voice was soft like butter. Every time she went up to pray or give announcements, I practically saw a halo above her head and heard angelic voices in the background. To me, she was the epitome of a Perfect Christian Woman.
It wasn't so much that I wanted to be like her (well, maybe I did), but I really wanted to grow spiritually and become all God wanted me to be...and to me that was Perfection. Seriously, I really believed I was supposed to get to a point where I was darn near perfect, like the many church leaders I thought were perfect too.
And, I was almost there...at least it looked that way on the outside. I, too, was becoming a Perfect Christian Woman like the leaders up front at church.
Things were going well. I was growing spiritually. I was serving God. I was becoming a Perfect Christian Woman. And by the time I met my husband, I was one (angelic voices go here).
But, it's pretty easy to look perfect when you're single and living alone. You wake up with yourself, and go to bed with yourself. You spend most of your quality time with yourself (because when you're an introvert like me, you love spending time alone). And it's easy to be perfect when you're in public and others are watching.
Being married showed me that I hadn't changed as much as I thought.
How were those church leaders able to be so perfect? They had the same Holy Spirit I had...what was wrong with me?
I got caught in a cycle of focusing on what was wrong with me...what I needed to change, doing the work I believed God wanted me to do to change so I could become that Perfect Christian Woman.
But it was like a game of Whac-A-Mole...every time I thought I had a breakthrough and fixed that thing...another would pop up...then the same thing I thought I had under control would pop up again. But at least a game of Whac-A-Mole is fun. This was exasperating.
And I felt like a hypocrite. At home I was one way. At church and in public another...I wore the perfect image mask in public and took it off at home.
Then something really crazy happened...
My husband took a new job with our new church...as a pastor...making me a pastor's wife.
Think about that...a pastor's wife! I'm already failing miserably at being perfect and now God throws me into a fishbowl, or a fire (depending how you look at it) or maybe both, if that's possible.
How crazy was that?! Well, crazy to me, but not to God.
My three year journey as a pastor's wife brought me face to face with what I now call the Perfect Image Trap. The Perfect Image Trap is when you believe you're to look like you have it all together, all the time...you know, it's the mask we wear.
With my husband on staff at our new church, I got to see beyond the stage that some of those perfect leaders stood on. I got to see their real personas and found that many were one way on the stage and another off the stage. And at this particular church, many of the perfect leaders on stage were abusive to the staff.
And it made me sick.
But wait a minute...Was I really much different than them? They wore a perfect image mask and God showed me that I was wearing one too. I was one way in public, another at home...like them. Ironically, God used those very people as a mirror for me to see myself. As a result of my experience as a pastor's wife at that church, God took me on a journey to learn to embrace my imperfect self.
And those leaders I thought were perfect? I realized they were probably struggling with the same thing I had been struggling with--believing they were supposed to be perfect.
I think so many believers are struggling with believing they're to appear perfect (believing that appearing perfect = godliness) and they are blocking the grace, abundance and freedom Christ offers.
Once I went through the journey of embracing my imperfect self, I began to experience God's grace, abundance and freedom everyday which I wasn't experiencing before.
We have access to everything Christ offers, but we have to be sure we aren't saying "no thank you" to the grace, abundance and freedom he offers by being stuck in a Perfect Image Trap.