July 13, 2016
Freedom From the Facade
“Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Matthew 5:48 (NIV)
There’s nothing like a picture from high school to remind you of your former goofy self. An old friend recently posted a picture of a group of us on a field trip that made me both giggle and blush.
There I stood in the middle of the Smithsonian Museum, posed in a feisty Charlie’s Angels stance with my friends, big hair poofing and hip cocked like I owned the world. Remember that weird teen stage that was a mix of self-consciousness and arrogance?
I laughed at the picture, and then I started to think about that girl — the Amy of decades ago.
That opinionated girl who thought she understood the world … who had equal measures of sass, attitude and idealism … who always saw the best in people … who loved to be known as “a little different.” That girl has turned into a woman who now feels comfortable in her own skin, but she disappeared behind a facade of her own making — a mask of perfection — for years in between.
I’m not sure when the change happened. Maybe it was when I tried to measure up in a legalistic church. Or maybe it was when I took on the weight of wanting to be the perfect wife and mom. But probably it was when I started valuing what others thought about me more than protecting the woman God had created me to be.
Day by day, the true me started to disappear. One small choice after another led me down a path of hiding behind a facade of perfection rather than living the full and free life God had for me. Maybe you recognize yourself here too. You’ve started creating a false “I’ve-got-it-all-together” image to keep people from knowing the real you with your flaws and failures. It feels safer behind that wall, but it’s exhausting. And it’s soul-crushing.
For a while, even Scripture confused me on this matter, so I sought out a trusted friend to help me.
Across the table, I exclaimed to her, “But the Bible does tell us to be perfect! Right there in Matthew 5:48 Jesus says, ‘Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.’” She just smiled and sent me home to do some studying and to look up the meaning of the word perfect in its context. I hurried home to do my assignment.
As the root definition of the word flashed onto my computer screen, I sat in teary-eyed silence. The truer translation of the word perfect in this verse is to be “whole,” “complete” or “mature.” The Amplified Bible says it this way, “You, therefore, will be perfect [growing into spiritual maturity both in mind and character, actively integrating godly values into your daily life], as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
I might be mixed up about lots of things, but suddenly I had clarity on a big step toward breaking up with perfect. God is calling us from the hollowness of self-made perfection to the wholeness of God-given completion. He is doing a perfecting work in us, freeing us day by day from our false image of perfection, until we live in the freedom, joy and fullness of life for which we were made.
While our pursuit of perfection and a flawless image drains us of energy, God’s work of perfecting fills us with peace. We can trust that God is big enough to turn even our flaws into something usable and to redeem the failures of our past. Living in God’s image the beautiful unique women He created us to be, is a huge step toward true maturity.
Creating an image is measuring up. Living in God’s image is filling up. Let’s step into His image and complete our own!
Lord, I want to live in Your perfecting power, the work that makes me whole, complete and mature. Help me put down my mask of perfection and step into the freedom of living in Your image. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 18: 32, “It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.” (NKJV)
Amy Carroll’s book, Breaking Up with Perfect, contains more lessons learned in her journey to kiss perfection goodbye and embrace the joy God had in store for her.
Make sure to visit Amy’s blog to see the picture of her high-school goofiness and to sign up for her upcoming free study of Breaking Up with Perfect that will run August 1- September 5.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
In what ways have you chosen to create your own image instead of living authentically in God’s image?
How has that choice shaped the way you feel about yourself or changed your relationships with others?
Write out a prayer asking God to help you step out from behind the mask and to live in freedom.
© 2016 by Amy Carroll. All rights reserved.
Originally published Wednesday, 13 July 2016.