I have to admit I suffer from this issue guest blogger Dr. Deb Douglas, Minister to Women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA , discusses in this post. I have no doubt some of you suffer from it as well. What a great reminder, especially during these busy holidays, that we do not have to be perfect or do it all!
Please, someone out there tell me you are not perfect! As another magazine worthy Christmas tree is posted on Facebook, the undertones of perfection scream out to every woman, “Be perfect!” Seriously, since when do we need a professional Christmas decorator instead of enlisting the kids to hang their homemade, construction paper ornaments throughout the house? And it’s not just Christmas perfection driving us into competition. Women and competition go together like PMS and chocolate!
As a recovering OCD’er (obsessive compulsive disorder), believe me: perfect is not what it is advertised to be. Back in my perfection addiction days, my house looked like a museum at any given moment, but I was a mess, an epic failure. Not only did I spend time, money, and energy on having floors any germaphobe would eat from, I volunteered for every opportunity at church, school, or in the community and looked cute doing it!
Thankfully God got my attention and radically rocked my world. My priorities got ransacked; my house became livable, laid back, and comfortable; and my family’s stress descended to acceptable levels.
How did I escape the perfect competition? First, I asked God to forgive me for taking my eyes off Him and putting them on to how others and I viewed myself. I spent time asking God to show me plainly what was His best. When things are compared to His best, the difference is obvious. Here are some practical things I learned along the way:
- Determine what God’s best is for life. Through prayer and a personal retreat, I discovered God was much more pleased when I focused on the 2 commandments Jesus gave in Matthew 22:37-39: Love God. Love others. These two simplified my life and left no room for competition with other women.
- Choose one thing a day NOT to do. Leave something on the “To Do” list undone each day. Yes, this is scary, but the freedom from doing this is revolutionizing!
- Lose your focus. Move the focus from the immediate to the eternal. I began asking, “Will this matter in 5 years? In eternity?” That’s a heavy standard to meet, but it is a great gauge for our lives as Christ followers.
- Go into training. It takes intentionality to make the shift from wondering what others think to what God thinks. If the “I wonder what THEY would think…” phrase pops up, squash that thought! Change it to, “I wonder if this is God’s best for me.” I used Scripture memorization to help me squish out comparisons.
- Be brave enough to be honest. Being the authentic me that God created took accepting myself as I am: not perfect, but God’s child whom He loves dearly. As I became more comfortable being my true self, God opened my eyes to new ways He had equipped me to serve others. With service comes contentment and joy!
- Slim down and scale back. I’m not talking about a diet, but rather getting rid of the unnecessary clutter in life. For ideas on doing this, I suggest reading, “7: An Experimental Mutiny Against Excess” by Jen Hatmaker. Getting rid of things that rob attention away from God gives us more time for His best.
- Go from “Kiss, Kiss, Hug, Hug” type relationships (the fake, social status kind) to deeper more intimate relationships with others. The more we know others, the less likely we are to judge others and the more likely we are to love them as they are.
Taking myself out of the perfection race freed me up to laugh at myself, treasure others more deeply, and see God at work in me. I went from perfect and messed up to content and loving life! This Christmas give yourself the gift of freedom from perfection!
Dr. Deb Douglas, is the Minister to Women at First Baptist Church, Bossier City, LA as well as Minister of Hope (a cancer ministry) and serves as one of our LifeWay Ministry Multipliers. Deb launched her first women’s Bible study at the age of 20. Her passion is encouraging and equipping women to serve. She is the Minister to Women at FBC Bossier City and a conference/retreat speaker, strategic planning consultant, freelance writer and contributed to Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level. Deb graduated from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Christian Education/Women’s Ministry and a Doctor of Education in Ministry degree from NOBTS. She is the wife of Paul, mom of Jared and Katie, mother-in-law to Emily and grandmother to Caroline. Deb loves simple ministry that allows God’s Word to speak in big ways!