We know what she looks like, the Perfect Mom…
She awakens in the morning to do her daily devotions with a freshly brewed cup of tea, she then dons her makeup and a cute little outfit (that fits just right on her cute little frame). She makes the perfect breakfast, and everyone loves it. She kisses her husband goodbye as he trots off to work, and turns her full focus to her children, who lovingly gaze up at her, cheerfully ready to do her bidding. They work side by side tidying their already immaculate home, singing in perfect 4-part harmony as they clean. They spend the rest of the morning nestled on the couch reading several chapters in one of the many long books she has chosen to read aloud to them throughout the years. For lunch, she prepares a nutritious and delicious spread of food, much of which she canned from her garden earlier in the year, and dinner is just as spectacular. She manages to juggle a house full of children, homeschooling, and all the household chores effortlessly. She never complains, cries for no reason, or acts selfishly. Her children rarely misbehave, and when they do, she always deals with them in a just manner, quoting the perfect scripture and smiling with tenderness.
We all *think* we know one…this Perfect Mom.
We are just sure Susan Whats-her-bucket down the street with her beautifully manicured lawn and flawless appearance and exceptionally well-behaved children is one of those Perfect Moms. We are just sure she doesn’t have the last 3 days worth of laundry sitting in a crumpled heap on her couch, we are positive her floors are not the least bit sticky, and we are certain she has never spoken harshly to her children.
We look up to her and fear her all at the same time. We tell ourselves we should be more like Her. When we do something “wrong,” we think to ourselves, “She wouldn’t do that!” When our house is a mess, we hope She won’t come over unexpectedly! We want to be just like Her, but we don’t know how. We feel like failures because She is perfect and we are miserably less than that.
I’ve struggled for years with wanting to appear perfect. I didn’t really think I could *be* perfect, but I thought for sure I could *look* perfect. Everyone would *think* I was perfect. Having a large family and homeschooling did not change that either–it magnified it!
You see, when you do something that is not the norm, you tend to reap criticism. Going against the flow gets you a lot of bumps and bruises. You cannot just flippantly tell someone you’ve had a bad day, because inevitably it will be “your own fault.” It will be your own fault for homeschooling, your own fault for having so many children, your own fault for not getting a job and helping to support the family. If you can’t “do it all” then you shouldn’t do any of it.
It is troubling when the stranger you meet in the parking lot is the one pointing out your less than perfect-ness, but it is 10 times more hurtful when it comes from someone you know, and 100 times more damaging when it comes from a fellow Christian. They point that finger of judgment at you…the one that screams feminism from inside a mangled conservative Christian shell. You “ought” to be able to do it all, be it all, and never ever wear out. If you do happen to wear out, no one will come to your aid because we are all too busy with our own quest for perfection. I do it all by myself…why can’t you?
Often, it is our own perceptions of those we admire that lead us down the path of desiring perfection. We believe so-and-so always does things perfectly. We pretend to be just like so-and-so with the hopes that practice really does make perfect.
But, we were never meant to be perfect. We were created to always fall short.
I will get married and not always be the perfect helpmeet. I will have children and not always deal with them justly. I will homeschool and forget to teach something. I will not be perfect. Not because I don’t want to be, but because I was designed (as was everyone else on this planet) not to be.
In 2 Corinthians 12, it says:
And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
So often, we as homeschool moms diligently compare ourselves to others. We want to know how we measure up. We haul our children to standardized testing, we ask every homeschool mom we meet what curriculum they use in case they use the perfect curriculum we’ve been looking for, we study scope and sequences looking for the gaps in our teaching, we feel weighed down by the scrutiny of those on the “outside.” We feel weak, and we don’t like it.
Even as Christian women in general, we want to be the Proverbs 31 woman every second of our lives, we want to always get it right. We read Christian literature and find ourselves wallowing in guilt for not being perfect like the author or the fictional character created by the author.
Or maybe it is Susan Whats-her-bucket down the street who makes us feel inadequate–intentionally or unintentionally. We try to copy her life (or what we perceive to be her life), only to find ourselves exhausted and irritable.
But, guess what…
Susan Whats-her-bucket, and the author of that Christian book, and even the relative who likes to remind you of all your faults aren’t perfect either. Don’t think I say that flippantly. Really listen closely…hear what I am saying…
God created them with faults too.
Maybe they are well hidden, maybe you don’t know the person well enough to be able to see their faults, or maybe they are drowning in their own insecurities and fears, and use a false guise of perfection to try and stay afloat. No matter what you see on the outside, you can be certain they all have imperfections.
We may feel as though the revealing of our imperfections opens us up to ridicule and criticism. But it will not be the imperfections that will cause our persecution, for 2 Timothy says:
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
It is Jesus, working in our lives, working through our weakness and through our imperfections, that will offend. It will offend those who have bought the lie of feminism. It will offend those who have bought the lie of humanism. It will offend those who have bought the lie of feel-good Christianity.
Once we throw off the fetters of perfectionism, we will feel weak. We will want to grasp at some “-ism” type crutch to make us feel strong. But, in time, that crutch will fall, and so will we.
The only way to finish the race is to walk toward the Son, focusing on His perfection. It is only through Him that I can get up every morning refreshed, and go to bed every night fulfilled. If my marriage is successful, it is only through His perfection. If my children behave, it is only through His perfection. If my children grow up following Him, it is only through His perfection. It will not be my own fault, because I am not perfect,
and neither are you.