Before Reading: Write down (or think of) the one personality trait that you dislike most about yourself. Example: I am too shy, I am too loud, etc. Save for later! 🙂
A few weeks ago, my seven-year-old son came to me after receiving a scolding and said something that shook me to the core. “Mom, sometimes I feel like you expect me to be perfect.”
Immediately my eyes burned with tears because I knew that feeling, the feeling of not being good enough, and I certainly did not want my child to ever fear that he wasn’t “good enough” for me!
Nevertheless, somehow I sent that message to him, and although unintentional on my part, I felt overwhelmed by sadness and then by conviction.
You see, God’s been speaking to me about this issue lately, about my tendency toward perfectionism.
I’m realizing it’s not only frustrating for me, but it’s something that often negatively effects my relationships with others also. For these reasons, perfectionism is the personality trait that I dislike most about myself.
So why do so many of us women struggle with perfectionism and other personality flaws?
Because we have bought into the Superwoman Myth.
You know, the myth about the woman who does it all and does it perfectly?! Wouldn’t we all love to be that supreme woman, to bask in the knowledge that we ROCK at being women – everyday in every thing and all of the time?!
If Superwoman truly exists, she certainly is difficult to find in the midst of our messy everyday lives.
The first contributor to this Superwoman Myth is self.
How many times have you written yourself a to-do list a mile long and actually expected to get most of those tasks accomplished?
And at the end of the day when you have only made it to number 3, how do you feel?
Or consider this: How often do you feel like you’re making so much progress in one area, only to discover you’re completely falling apart in another?
Although some of us may come close to being Superwoman on a given day, soaring above the circumstances of messy homes, sick family members, extra hours of work, and so forth, the perfect mother, the perfect wife, sister, friend, daughter, child of God – she does not exist!
Instead of listening to the lies perpetuated by our superwoman-wannabe selves, let’s listen to the truths our Creator God has to say about us.
“For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.”
God created you purposefully and intentionally to be who you are.
While he did not create you to sin, He did create you with your unique personality, your unique strengths and weaknesses. The good news is that even those things we tend to see as our weaknesses can become strengths with His help.
Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 12:9-10,
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Those personality traits we so often view as flaws have positive aspects to them, my sisters in Christ!
For example, while my perfectionism easily leads to worry and sin, it is incredibly helpful for tasks that require attention to detail. Likewise, people who are argumentative may be difficult to get along with, yet they make excellent lawyers and advocates for others. While those who are easy-going often lack organizational skills, they are typically great friends and listeners.
Let’s find the beauty in being who God created us to be instead of wishing we were someone else.
The second contributor to the Superwoman Myth is how we view others.
How many of us can honestly say that we’ve never compared ourselves to another woman…ever?!
None of us can.
Especially in this age of social media, we are very aware of the skills other women have. Furthermore, we often envy those things in others that we feel we are lacking.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to admire others and to challenge ourselves to grow.
We definitely want to be the best
that we can possibly be.
The problem is that sometimes when we see all of this womanly awesomeness out there, we wish that we could be someone we are not, someone we were never created to be.
We wish we could be more …
– you fill in the blank!
But the beauty of a relationship with God is that it’s personal, unique to the individual.
While all women are similar in that we are imperfect sinners, saved only by the belief that Christ’s shed blood paid the penalty of death we so deserved, we can be very different in the way we live our faith out.
1 Corinthians 12:12-20 confirms this idea:
“ Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many. Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.”
We each have a part to play in the body of Christ, and He’s created each of us uniquely to fulfill the role He’s planned out for us.
So the next time you feel unworthy, inadequate, or that you just don’t have anything “special” to offer, remember that God created you to be you, and that He created you to fulfill your role and yours alone.
His intention is for me to be the best Jen that I can be, not the best Suzy or Katherine or Betsy (or maybe in this perfectionist’s case the best Suzy and Katherine and Betsy.)
No, He simply wants me to be the best Jen.
And the best Jen might look very different from the best Kelly or the best Martha.
Now, isn’t that truth freeing?
Follow me to part two of the Superwoman Myth to discover the third and final freeing truth and to learn what to do with that least favorite personality trait of yours.
Read the rest here: