We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be. –May Sarton
This post has been sitting in my draft pile for over a year. I don’t know why I hesitated posting it. I think I still have some residual perfectionist church girl in me.
For so long, I thought it was necessary to make everything seem perfect. I hid the truth of my struggles and flaws not only from my family but from myself as well. I thought being authentic meant giving the right answers and asking the right questions.
Instead of authenticity, I propetuated the pharisaical culture of facade that is so prevalent in the evangelical church. When I finally realized the lie I was living, I was desperate to pack my bags and move out of the church.
My plans were neat and tidy (read:picture perfect), but God had other plans. In a messy, hurtful and demeaning way, I was shoved out the door of the evangelical church I had attended for over twenty years. My wounds were deep and oozing, but I maintained a facade of perfection even then.
When I left, I didn’t know where I was going, I just knew I didn’t want any part of the suffocating evangelicalism I left behind.
The first Sunday I stayed home, I felt odd and strangely liberated at the same time. After all, I had gone to church every Sunday as far back as I could remember. Would God even consider me his child if I intentionally stayed home? Well one week became two and the next thing I knew, a few months had passed. Slowly during my churchcation, the wounds in my heart began to heal.
When I was finally ready to attend a church service, I stayed as far away from evangelical churches as I could. I ended up at a lovely Presbyterian church where the atmosphere is less about perfection and more about loving and accepting people just as they are.
So here I am.
Baring the bones of my soul on a blog, perfectionist church girl be damned.
But it’s ok. I don’t mind. My afterangelical self is ok with this revelation of brokenness because I don’t feel the obsessive need to prove my goodness anymore. I feel free.(Photo credit: Tracy Kaye Photography)
So sometime in February 2015, this happened…
Last Thursday I lost my cool.
I know I shouldn’t have, but I did.
It wasn’t Ev’s fault; it was mine.
I don’t know why I was so cranky. Well, perhaps there were reasons: the weather was well below freezing, I had school anyway that day, my least favorite class to teach was waiting for me when I got there, and Ev was being particularly obstinate.
For all these reasons my fuse burned short. I snapped at him as he was getting buckled into the car. When my explosion finished, the silence was deafening. Quietly, Ev asked if he could pray.
I simply nodded.
“Dear Lord help me be good today.” Then he looked up at me with those big, blue eyes and added almost in a whisper, “I don’t know what else to pray, mom.”
My heart broke as it melted.
Why couldn’t I have employed some self control? Sigh.
Feeling like a first class creep, I apologized, confessed how wrong I was to be unkind toward him and asked for his forgiveness.
And that’s when it happened.
Ev smiled through the tears pooling at the corners if his eyes and said, “I forgive you, mama. I love you more than to the moon and back a hundred million times.”
He has no idea how much he is loved and wanted and treasured. I wouldn’t trade a moment with him. Each one is miraculous–filled with important lessons I need to learn.
In spite of the fact that I have been parenting for 26 years, I still really suck at it. A part of me stuck in the past, hates that perfection still eludes me, but I am learning to relish the failure. For it is when I open myself to the vulnerability of confessing failure that I truly catch a glimpse of grace–the glorious grace of God which restores me to wholeness, makes up for my imperfection and creates something beautiful out of my brokenness.
I am (mostly) free now from the demon of trying to be what I’m not, of aiming toward a perfection I can never attain. Mostly.
Authenticity begins with vulnerability, with facing the truth about ourselves and refusing to look away. My heart is filled with gratitude for a God who loves me as I am in my brokenness. I am grateful he doesn’t leave me there, but he makes all things new, even a tired old mom who loses her cool.
Most of all, I’m grateful for my Little Wonder.