I have spent my entire life trying to be perfect.
Well, actually allow me to clarify that- I have spent my entire life trying to do everything perfectly. And that constant striving for perfection has been exhausting. Here’s why:
I AM NOT PERFECT.
And I never will be.
But you see, here’s the thing: IT’S OKAY.
By God’s grace, IT’S OKAY.
Unfortunately, it took many years for that realization to fully sink in.
I think my “nothing less than perfection” mindset started when I was quite young. Whenever my siblings and I found ourselves in trouble, I would hear my parents say,
“Alyssa, you’re the oldest, you should know better.”
“You’re the oldest. Be a good example.”
(Disclaimer: My parents are really very sweet. But of course they disciplined us when we did not behave.)
And you see, most of the time, I did know better and I wanted to be a good example. I hated being in trouble and I hated disappointing my parents. And so, those thoughts of, “I should know better,” and, “I need to be a good example,” stuck with me. But I’ll admit, I think I took those thoughts a bit too seriously for a long period of time.
In school, for example, anything less than an A was completely unacceptable.
I would study for hours, do homework for hours, in fact, I would even stay up all night working on school projects. Oh, and if my notes from class were a mess, I would go home that night and rewrite them. Just so that they would be nice and neat and free of too many spelling mistakes. So, do you think I’m crazy yet?
(Side note: I have to tell you this because I think it’s a beautiful example of how God truly does have a sense of humor and how his plan for our lives and his timing is perfect. My husband admitted he was the kid who would fall asleep in class and who didn’t exactly study. WHAT?!?!? Thank goodness I didn’t meet him until he was in his final semester of college. I would have never even considered going on a date with him if I had seen him asleep in class! 😂)
At the beginning of my senior year of high school, I found out I was the valedictorian of my high school class. And although I tried to hide it, deep down I was really excited about it. And then this happened: A couple of months after the school had released our class rankings, the principal called me into his office and told me there had been a mistake. And instead of being #1, I was actually #2.
I was devastated.
Believe me, I hid my devastation quite well. But when I went home that night, I buried my face in my pillow and cried myself to sleep.
I remember thinking that all of my hard work hadn’t been good enough, and I remember feeling like a failure. I can’t say that I was angry, but I remember being sad and disappointed in myself. I hid those feelings, but deep down, I felt as though my schoolwork and grades had fallen short.
I am 100% my own worst critic.
(How many of you can relate?) I never seemed to be satisfied. As I look back to those years in high school, college, and even a few of the years post-college, I think to myself,
“Well Alyssa, of course you were never satisfied.”
And this is why. I AM NOT PERFECT. And my expectations for myself (and sometimes for others) were far from realistic. And these expectations had sadly consumed me.
You see, not only did I want perfection reflected in my schoolwork, I also wanted perfection reflected in my appearance. And when it came to appearance, in my mind perfection meant being skinny (too skinny).
It’s funny, I never really was one to care too much about wearing makeup or curling my hair. In fact, most days I went to school wearing a sweatshirt and jeans. And as for my hair, well I stuck a headband in it and called it good. However, when it came to my weight, well that was a completely different story. I was consumed with being skinny. Because in my mind, skinny was beautiful. And as hard as I would try, I just could never seem to lose any weight.
I would get up early to go for a run or do a workout video (and every morning my poor mom would get up with me and join in on the “fun”). But despite my efforts, my weight seemed to remain the same (and in high school, losing a bit of weight would not have been harmful to my health).
I hated looking in the mirror, because in my eyes, the reflection staring back at me was far from my idea of perfect.
(Side note: The very first date I went on was with my husband. And I was 24 years old. Yes, you read that correctly, 24 years old. Oh, and we had been set up by his grandpa, so I had never actually met him before that first date. And believe me, I had no idea what I was in for. Never in a million years did I expect he would actually like me. I suppose I figured he would think I was too much of a nerd or not pretty enough or not skinny enough. But by some miracle, he saw a beauty in me that I was unable to see for myself.)
To be perfectly honest, it’s a shame I spent so many years hating the reflection staring back at me in the mirror.
AND THIS IS WHY:
I am a daughter of our King, our Creator who fearfully and wonderfully knit me together and created me in his image. And it is by God’s underserved and unending grace that I am loved.
And I am human. And I am not perfect. And I NEVER will be perfect. Earlier, I wrote I was never satisfied while on my pursuit for perfection. That’s because I was searching for perfection in earthly things.
Genesis 1:27 says this, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him.”
You and I are created in the image of our gracious Lord and Savior. And with that comes great responsibility. A responsibility to live our lives as a reflection of Christ. A responsibility to live our lives to bring glory to our Father in Heaven.
You see, my pursuit for perfection hindered my pursuit of a life reflecting Christ.
May we live lives that strive not for perfection, but rather lives that strive to be a light in the darkness. Lives that strive to bring glory and honor to Christ. May we live lives that never stop seeking to grow in the knowledge and grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Although Alyssa Kuiken lives in small town northern New Jersey, she likes to think she doesn’t have a typical New Jersey accent. (Just don’t ask her to say words like talk, walk, or dog!) She married her sweet husband, Rick, this past October and loves sharing life’s adventures with him. She works as a wound care nurse and feels it’s the best job ever, because it is an everyday reminder of how fearfully and wonderfully God created each one of us. When she’s not at work, she’s usually running or lifting weights at the gym with her husband Rick (aka coach), searching for new recipes for dinner, on the lookout for antiques to decorate their home, or watching Eli Manning and the Giants (go G-men!!!) play football. Follow her on Instagram at @alykuiks!
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