Tuesday, September 30, 2008

YES to GOD study: Chapter 2

Welcome to This past weekend Gene and I had to go to a wedding and of course I had nothing to wear. Before embarking on a shopping trip I finished reading chapter 2 of "Behind Those Eyes". Needless to say, Ms. Perfection was not invited to the mall since she is my worst critic, especially in the dressing room. I try to remind her sorry self that the lighting is poor, the mirrors are weird and the space is small. Plus, Sunday I'll be turning 38, so this cellulite on the back of my isn't going anywhere. Somehow, Ms. Perfection found a ride to the mall and gave her opinion on everything I tried on, so I ended up going home empty handed and found something in my closet.

I rushed home and tried so hard to get ready on time. Those of you who have been with me any length of time know that I am time challenged. The wedding was at 1pm and we arrived into the parking lot at 12:53. I was so proud of myself. I was also very surprised at what a small wedding it was and when I voiced that Gene confessed that the wedding was actually at 1:30!!! He had tricked me so we'd be on time.

My first reaction: Oh, how sweet you are. I love you. Moments later when he turned the car off and I realized with my perfectly straightened hair, that he was planning on sitting there for about 20 minutes, I had a slightly different reaction: Who does this? Who comes to a wedding 37 minutes early and just sits in the parking lot? I would have been ready on time Gene. This is ridiculous. Since we have all this time now, let's go to Walgreen's and get a card and gift card for them.

Windows back up with the air conditioner blowing my straight hair, we were on our way to Walgreen's when he took my hand in his and said, See honey, if we weren't early we wouldn't be able to come get what you said you were going to get yesterday.

22 minutes later we walked into the church looking like the perfect couple. We looked good, we were punctual and we were armed with a gift.


For those of you just visiting, we are discussing "Behind Those Eyes" by our dear friend Lisa Whittle. We meet right here every Tuesday and you are more than welcome. Details to join are in the upper right corner of this blog.

Let's get started...

CHAPTER 2: Ms. Perfection

Remember, anything in blue is a quote from the book.

I loved Lisa's detailed description of what she labeled as The Great Sunday Morning Fakeout and how the family fought all the way to the church doors. "Stop it!" hisses Mom. "We're almost inside the church. " The fakeout is already under way. Pasting on their smiles, the happy party of five greets the men waiting at the double doors. "Good morning!" The cheery sound of Mom's voice surprises even herself. Oh, wasn't that just ugly seeing that in print? We all know we have been there and done that, some as recent as 2 days ago.

Women, the truth is that God doesn't have to prove anything to us to let us see our own imperfections. We can manage that all on our own. I remember when I worked at the hospital with my dear friend Lisa (not the author). Our desks were literally side by side. Gene surprised me and brought Alyssa and Aaron in to see me. Aaron was just 2 at the time very loudly he asked me, "Mom, why don't you like Lisa?"

I think I by-passed turning red and went right for the shade of purple. Now, keep in mind, this girl and I were very close outside of work. I, of course, never said that about her, but I was probably venting to Gene about work within earshot of my toddler and he took it that I didn't like her. She turned to me and said, "Yes, Lelia, why don't you like Lisa?"

My imperfection of running my mouth really caught up with me that day.

We are buying into the notion of perfect wife, perfect mother, and perfect package, at the expense of ourselves and our loved ones.
I thought all of Lisa's descriptions of what we try so hard to portray was just,well..perfect. I don't know how many times I put someone on a pedestal of perfection. Thinking they have it all together and then you take a seat across from them at Starbucks and after they spill their fancy coffee they start giving you glimpses of the life they really live and you sit their shocked that they have just knocked themselves off the pedestal you so perfectly had them perched upon.

The day the kids got out of school this past summer for break Alivia had brought home all of her writing journals. I love reading her stuff so I stood in my kitchen reading journal after journal. Imagine my excitement when I came across an entry titled,"My Mom". Then I read her thoughts neatly printed out...

My Mom's name is Lelia. She is 37 . She is thick and she is white.

After reading something so innocently penned, one either sinks into a deep depression or strives harder for any amount of age allowed perfection she can achieve. You know I started exercising and tanning all in the same day. It also gave me a good laugh because to me, "thick" sounds so much healthier than obese.

Perfection was held by Mary and nailed to a tree by soldiers. Perfection ascended to heaven promising to return for who is His. Perfection is Who we call out to and Who we praise. Jesus is the only Perfect about us. Let's relax and just let Him live through us.

In the Bible study section in the back of the book for this chapter, the challenge question Lisa gave us is: Search your heart. Is it more important for you to be seen as perfect in a certain area...or seen as real?

Answer the question above in the comment section below, then if you have more to share what God showed you on your own blog, then sign up under Mr. Linky. Even if you are not participating in the study, go ahead and answer the question.

Remember: After you write your Tuesday post then double click on the TITLE of that post. Then highlight the address that shows up in the address bar. Right click on it and copy it. Then paste it in the URL blank under Mr. Linky. The reason for this is if someone clicks on your name in 3 days, they will be directed right to your Tuesday post. Otherwise, if you just put your blog address in the URL blank it just takes you to your blog and will show your most recent post. E-mail me if that doesn't make sense.

You all are a huge blessing to both Lisa and I. We are trying our best to make it to every one's blogs. I have laughed, praised and even cried on some of your posts. This past Monday Lisa had a special message for you. If you missed it, you can go to my Monday post and be directed right to it. God really spoke to her heart and out of obedience in the midst of such a busy life she wrote to you.

Keep sharing with each other about His greatness...that's really what this is all about.

Don't forget to answer the question above as we love your insight!

~Many Blessings~

Next Tuesday~Chapter 3: Ms. Confidence!


Cindy said...

I am glad to be joining you today as I finally received my book and read the first 2 chapters.
I am looking forward to the journey together with all who are participating.
Thank you for hosting.

Anonymous said...

I think that it has been so important for me in the past to appear perfect, in anything and everything. Because I am such a people pleaser, and the only way that i could feel good about myself was to try to please others... so I had to be perfect for everyone.

I will write more on this in my post (I will have to get to that a bit later, as I have to take care of the kids at the moment) But now it is getting more important for me to be real, because unless I am real with others, how can I show how God is working in my life? How can I ask for and receive help and advice, unless I am real with someone and let them into the imperfections that are me?

That's all I have time for now, when I get the chance later, I will do the Mr. Linky thing! :)
Love you, and thanks so much Lelia for hosting this!
God bless,

AnooCre8ion said...

Hi Leila, I haven't had a chance to get the book yet. My son took sick last week and had an operation so I have been in the hospital with him all this time.

However in response to the question

Is it more important for you to be seen as perfect in a certain area...or seen as real?

I am now starting to come to the place where being real, even with all my faults, is more important. A while ago I did such an excellent job at hiding the real me, I didn't even know myself. I never took any risks or stepped out because I couldn't bear to fail. In the process I lost many God-opportune moments and many God-connections.

It is not an easy process as I feel myself sliding back into what I used to be, but with the help of God and constant, regular study of His word, I am becoming the woman He always intended for me to be.

God bless you, you are doing a great job with the posts.


tiggerdaisy said...

Good stuff, girl!!! This is just getting better and better!

Prayers and blessings!

From a former Mrs. Perfectionist,

Liz said...

I love this chapter because it speaks to my heart. In answer to the question:

Absolutely, I want to be seen as real. It is too difficult to keep up with "The Perfect Package" and attempt to fool others (and myself) into thinking that I am perfect. I am not. But in Christ, I am Holy...that is enough. I have found out that if someone rejects me because of my imperfection, it will hurt, yes, but life goes on. God provides enough people in our lives to give us all we need and teaches us through the losses.
I want to be seen as real, not perfect.
Only God is perfect

Darlene said...

I love what you say here:
"Perfection was held by Mary and nailed to a tree by soldiers. Pefection ascended to heaven promising to return for who is His. Pefection is Who we call out to and Who we praise. Jesus is the only Perfect about us."

I am convicted this morning that perfectionism is just another idol.

Thank you for your post, and thank you for hosting this great study!


Connie said...

If I'm not real with myself and others how can I be real with Christ? I am convinced that I have to be real to be effective to share Christ. As my boys have said..."Loosen up mom...have real!" I'm trying! Thanks for being real and hosting this study. Connie

Anonymous said...

Hey there "thick & white Lelia" hee, hee--those kids will keep the Ms Perfections away won't they???

Now this book is causing me a lot of discomfort. Right now I am finding the thing I am least real about is our finances. (big breath) there I said it out loud. We are just paying our bills--there is no room for any errors in our life and I don't even know if my husband fully realizes it.

Last night at a Pampered Chef demonstration I sat next to my friend/my pastors wife and when it was time to place my order I said to her. "I don't really need anything and I don't have the money to buy anything." And she said "well, then why would you even think of buying anything--no one would want you to overextend yourself for THIS!" I had gone thinking I have to buy something--just something small and God showed me through sharing with her that Ms. Perfection had to GO!! I wonder how many other women there ordered things so they "looked" like they could afford it.

God is moving in small but mighty ways!
hugs to you!

Tammy R said...

So beautiful was Perfection that was nailed to the cross.

In these last few months I've asked God to take what is hidden and bring it to the surface. I'm done with stepping over the clutter,I want it removed.

I'm ready to be real!

Jill said...

What a wonderful chapter and great to read your words, I'm thankful to say my answer to the question has changed these last couple of years and I see it continuing to change as we move on with the book.

Oh yes, send me your address sometime - remember you were the winner!!

Anita said...

I feel more real today than any time in my life. I struggled to be real; not knowing what that was because of the pain and hurt when I was younger. I attempted to be whatever each situation demanded. It has taken a long for me to realize that the anger that I kept inside kept me from being the person God wanted me to be. The wall I built kept others away and hurt I would not be anymore. But everything is done in his time.
Being a mother was the easiest for me. I got to grow up with my son. No one can put a mother down for enjoying her child and having fun. That was the best time of all for me.
I may be hurt, rejected, feel the competition but I know that God is with me and he will guide my steps. I tried in my life to be perfect but it is much too taxing. I am not perfect, the people I surround myself with know that I am not perfect but we love and accept each other just as God accepts and loves us.

Carol said...

Lelia, I love your post. The story about your daughters journal, made me laugh. We have a few of those oh so enlightening truths come for our daughter to. Like my mommy is really nice, but she's grumpy in the morning.

I want to be real, I'm so exhausted from pretending to be perfect, and never ever achieving it. I want to love myself for who God made me to be. I find it so easy to slip back into the perfection mode though. So as I get more and more into this study and see how masked and covered I am the more I realize it's time for me to let others see me, and I need to really see myself.

I've posted only a portion of my thoughts on my blog, I'm still sorting through my thoughts, thanks for your post.


Kim@Seasons of My Heart said...

Hey friend~
Great post today, with must to chew on!

God is truly such a loving, patient God..who is willing to walk with us...through all the challenges we face and for some reason, he doesn't give up on us. How amazing that is.

If I could ONLY realize....I'm completly HIM and HIM along!

Kristen said...

The old self was the desire to be perfect in all I did. To appear so "together". Now I desire to be real. I think people respond to real more than they do "perfect".

What's funny is this... just when I thought I had a handle on perfect... I was worried about writing the "perfect" post about Ms. Perfection... how bad is that!

I am loving this book!

Amy L Brooke said...

No kids, but I relate to the "thick" part. I recently ordered some shoes. They were the right size -- 7. But my feet didn't fit. Apparently, I now need a "wide 7". Uggh! And to top it off I turn 40 in a matter of months. Yikes.

Love ya'


Paula (SweetPea) said...

I just scanned the comments and I have to say before I forget that I just love what Darlene said about believing perfectionism is an idol. How true is that! I only in the last year or so realized that worry can also become an idol when we are consumed with worry. The same way with perfectionism...when we are consumed with trying to achieve perfection, it becomes an idol.

What a fabulous revelation. I didn't mention this in my post but most of my perfectionism comes at work...wanting to do, be, have things perfect.

I love how you give so many real life examples. For some reason that is hard for me in my style of writing. I guess that's why God made us different.

You are a blessing, Lelia, and I love knowing you.
Love ya,

Karen said...

Search your heart. Is it more important for you to be seen as perfect in a certain area...or seen as real?

This question was easy for me because I thankfully have not had the "perfectionist" bone to pick. So I strive to be more real. If you were to ask is it more important for me to be in control than real, that would be a different answer, but I think that is another chapter...:)

I related to the part in the chapter where Lisa described a "really put together couple" sitting in front of her family in church and she was surprised to hear they struggled with infidelity and depression. I too judge by appearances and I am learning not to do that. It is never a true representation of who someone is our how they live their life. If I don't want to be judged by appearances, why do I judge others that way?

Thank you for sharing your stories. It is great to hear how we all can learn something new from each other's experience.



Pamela (MrsJoeB) said...

Oh! My! Gosh! I don't have your home address to send you a happy birthday!! Please e-mail it to me!!
Happy birthday friend!!!

In His Graces~Pamela

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

So your birthday is October 5? Mine is the 4th! I'll be 46. Ugh. But at least I'm healthy.

Laura said...

"Perfection was held by Mary and nailed to a tree by soldiers. Pefection ascended to heaven promising to return for who is His. Pefection is Who we call out to and Who we praise. Jesus is the only Perfect about us. Let's relax and just let Him live through us."

Oh, how I loved this, Lelia.

Leebird said...

Hi Lelia girl,

I'm ready to be real. I love what you said in your posting:

"Perfection was held by Mary and nailed to a tree by soldiers. Perfection ascended to heaven promising to return for who is His. Perfection is Who we call out to and Who we praise. Jesus is the only Perfect about us. Let's relax and just let Him live through us."


Ok...another not only have my beloved Granny's name, but you share a birthday with my mom. She will be 76, but looks about 55. I am thankful that she is so healthy and full of life unlike my dad who is so feeble.

Love, Lee

jillian4 said...

In regards to your question to me today, I would answer "real" For so long, for most of my adult life, I have appeared "perfect" to so many people. My friends, my family....They thought I had it altogether, the perfect marriage, the perfect family, etc.....Boy were they wrong:) The thing is I was exhausted by pretending. Exhausted about keeping all of my secrets under wraps. The fact that I struggled, the fact that I had lost myself and my identity was as a wife and mother, my identity was not in Christ. And now (not that I am being punished, I know God does not punish us) in the midst of my marriage crumbling, and my life being turned upside down, I realize was it worth it? Was it worth pretending, worth letting others think I had it altogether, that I was "superwoman" No..... I have realized over the last few months, I am not perfect and I do not have it altogether and I am done pretending. I need to be real, I have been real, I have been exposed. My sister is struggling now with knowing that I have to "go through all of this, I shouldn't have to go through this" But I think it is good for her to see that I am not perfect, I am normal, no one is perfect. Why not be real to lead others to Christ and let them see our "insides" that we are sinners and we struggle. Just because we are christians we run into the trap of others thinking it is "so easy for us" It's not, we have struggles to. So with my being so lengthy and all:)Sorry:) I know that my Jesus loves me, warts and all, I want to be real, I don't want to hide anymore and I don't. Not one of us should, it is not worth the after affects.....God will deliver us, God will pull us through, but we need to be honest with ourselves and each other and Jesus. He knows us to well, He knows our true feelings and our hearts, yet He still loves us just the same. That to me is Amazing....

Paula said...

Hi Lelia!

Yet another thought provoking chapter, but an easier one to deal with than the first, believe it or not.

I love Alivia's honesty in her journal. I think that that is what we 'adults' need to do more so we can stay real. If it helps, Jasmine tells people that her mummy is 38, and white too! I tell her it's 'pink', hehe.

Now for today's question response, here are my notes:

I’d rather be seen as real, but also a good Christian and an example to others. People need to realise that Christians are humans too, but they rely on God, and their belief in Jesus dying on the cross, for their strength and fulfilment; not getting these from worldly things, or trying to live a perfect life, as that is not possible.

My blog post expands more on my thoughts the perfect/real issue. I have yet to receive feedback from my best friend here about the Getting Real question. I can't wait to do so, and will publish her thoughts when I get them.

I'm loving this study and will spend more time reading through some other posts as I didn't get to read as many as I wanted to last week.

You stay lovely, and praise God that we're able to do this study and grow in Him and GET REAL together!

Love you, Paula :-) xo

PS: Trivia time...another similarity, in that my sweetie is 6 years older than me too. Were we separated at birth? :-)

Paula said...

I forgot to add that I LOVE THIS!

"Perfection was held by Mary and nailed to a tree by soldiers. Pefection ascended to heaven promising to return for who is His. Pefection is Who we call out to and Who we praise. Jesus is the only Perfect about us. Let's relax and just let Him live through us."

And I ask that I can quote you on it wherever and whenever possible as that sums it up and puts Jesus in His rightful place; right up there with our Lord!

Lisa said...

Girl, do you see how your saying "yes" to God is impacting lives? If you ever doubt if doing this study was of Him, just read these comments from precious women who desire to be real before Him. And then offer them, as I do, as a fragrance to Him for being the author of everything true and beautiful and perfect in all of our lives.

He is. Everything.
I'm overwhelmed.

Lisa :)

Mari said...

I want to be seen as real. Period. As I stated in my blog post, no one has anything in common with Polly Perfection. A real women they can relate to? Plenty. And that's when God can use you.

Your post was awesome. Lots to ponder as usual. Great job!

HisPrincess said...

The Sunday morning thing is so me. I nag, rant, rave, bribe, sulk and generally try everything in my arsenal to get my kids to come to church with me. Then I fume on my own all the way there, muttering under my breath. Then I get out of the car, straighten my hair, walk to the front of the church and welcome the congregation as their cool, calm, in controll, totally together worship leader.Sigh.

Christy said...

Thank you for all of your wonderful and true reminders.

I am learning how important it is to be real. I have found that when I've put myself out there and allowed myself to be vulnerable, and just be me, those around me do the same. Now, those are the kind of relationships I love!

I'm so thankful for God's grace and growing me and stretching me to be more like Him.

I'm also going to spend some more time praying over our Sunday mornings! No more Sunday Morning Fakeouts!!!

Anonymous said...

I get what Lisa is saying in this chapter entirely, and I've experienced twinges of remorse as I read a couple of things that I could relate to personally. Where I come from though, is not totally from the angle of what other think about me, it is about the ideals I set for myself, and the 'beating' that I give myself for not meeting those ideals - for I never have - and for not doing what I expected I should have done to perfection. Is there a difference, or am I kidding myself!!! I don't know...

Kelly said...

I think as I've gotten older it's becoming more important for me to be real. I never have felt like I had it all together as a perfectionist, in my home, looks, etc...but realness is so attractive and such a, well, relief!!

KCAimee said...

Sorry my comment isn't about bible study...I really need my husband to "trick" me into being on time. Lelia, I think that you and I have lots in common (i.e. housework challenged, issues with being on time, but a big heart, right?!!). I'm even 38!

Regina said...

I am learning that I benefit most from just being real. Pressure is off and I can enjoy this life abudantly more than I could ever imagine (even in the trials).