It’s a little ironic that I’m writing a post on the perception of perfection, and this is maybe the fifth time I’ve tried writing this (guess who’s a perfectionist…). I hear it every now and then, some variation of “Oh I thought you were just this perfect person who had it all together”. I’ve had people ask me how I keep my prayer life so strong, how I stay so consistent in my time with God, how I have so much wisdom at my age, how I’ve thrived as a bible study leader, how I do all of the things. I don’t say this to sound conceited or to come across as perfect, hear my heart.
I’ve never felt ‘perfect’ or like I’ve ever ‘had it together’ because i’m nowhere near perfect and I never have, and honestly never will ‘have it together’ (does anyone actually?). I’m an imperfect person. I’m human. I feel like most of my life I’ve been the ‘dark horse’ or the ‘underdog’, the one who gets close, but just seems to just miss the mark- or at least that’s how I’ve often felt.
My response when people share their perceptions and assumptions of me with me, whether as a remark or as part of a question, is somehow shocking to them, but this is me: I have a short attention span, and often my mind wanders off while I pray, I talk with God constantly throughout my day, but don’t have a streak on my bible app. I have been through some crazy storms and seasons at my young age, more than some, less than others. Sure, in some areas, I have gained wisdom, but in others, I have a heck of a lot to learn.
I have never been a bible study leader before, and when I first started my group, no one showed up, and it was really discouraging. The second time around, I reached out to other people who were around my age who were already leading successful groups. The best advice I received was to be intentional with the people you do have, because the success of your group isn’t dependent on how big it is, but rather how impactful it is with the people you do have. (if you are thinking of starting a bible study- write that down!). The most important thing is to open your heart and a space for God to move, and trust me, He will take care of the rest. I do a lot, I stretch myself so thin (i’m a people pleaser, which is a post in itself), but it has led me to burnout, and I have learned the hard way that you cannot do all the things and do them well.
That being said, sure, I have a strong prayer life, but it’s something that I am working to improve constantly… it takes practice, just like the time I spend with God, reading my bible, meditating on His word and seeking Him throughout the day. I’ll be forever growing in those areas, and will still never perfect them. I have an amazing bible study and community of young ladies, but I can’t take credit for that. I have an incredible co-leader, and an anointed worship leader who help create an environment where others feel welcome. When you create the space for God to move, just watch Him move those mountains. I could never do it alone.
The wisdom I have was birthed from some painful seasons in my life, and is also something that I have gained by surrounding myself with wise people who have walked through things that I am yet to walk through. I have learned to say no to commitments when I have too much on my plate. It’s important to know your limits and help where you can without wearing yourself too thin. I’ve realized that I’d much rather give 100% to one or two things, than 10% to 20 (math isn’t my strength, so just roll with it).
See these perceptions and assumptions we have of those around us, placing people on pedestals because of the things they have, or the way they look, or how happy they are… It’s crap and it’s a trap (I’m not a rapper) and I fall for it so often. Instagram is great, it’s fun to post cool pictures with dorky captions, but if you think the amount of followers or likes or comments or DM’s hold your worth in them, then you need to go read your bible some more and find your true value there (you’ll be shook). There have been times where I’ve found myself comparing and have felt ‘less than’ because someone else has the perfect outfit, the perfect body, the perfect ‘life’. It’s one big highlight reel, full of editing. That’s not real. My own Instagram is an example of this to some extent.
I posted a few pictures a while back, and received comments and messages like “wow, you’re glowing”, “you look so so happy”. Here’s what people didn’t know: my friend and I, who are both pretty creative, love to collaborate and create cool content with fashion and photography, had planned this shoot about a month in advance. I was absolutely miserable the day we took those pictures and almost canceled. I was stressed with school, working a job I hated, burnt out, and going through a breakup (if you’re wondering, this ain’t a dating blog, but if that’s what you’re looking for, check out ‘Sleepless in Sacramento’… you won’t regret it). We took a few pictures, before I broke down in front of my friend, calling it a day. I almost didn’t post the pictures, because they didn’t align with how I felt, and i
At the end of the day, I love posting cute pics on Instagram, little snapshots of my adventures, outfits, and the highlights of my life, but it’s not my everything. I think there’s a healthy medium. The minute I feel too invested, or look to the comments or likes to feel “good enough”, I step back, and spend time in the word. It’s easy to become overstimulated by and strive to reach a false level of perfection, but we’ll never get there. We were not created for that.
We belong to a perfect God, who doesn’t want a dressed up, flawless version of you. He wants you, He wants your mess, He wants your flaws, He wants all of you and He loves all of you just the same. God doesn’t just use our highlight reel, He uses our pains and our hurts and He makes something beautiful of them, and if you ask me, even though it’s way easier said than done, I’ll take imperfect and loved fiercely by the Lord over ‘picture perfect’ any day.