10.17.18 - “For the first time ever I feel comfort in knowing that I will never be perfect, because there is only one person who ever was and ever will be.”
This was a note I took down in my phone after a small group discussion on 1 John 3: 18-20: “My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” - the message.
For as long as I can remember I have been a perfectionist. I accepted nothing short of success and would do whatever it took to be the best in everything I did. Growing up this meant getting straight A’s, making varsity volleyball as a freshman, earning a scholarship to play college volleyball, etc.
To many this may seem like a great life: a young girl working hard to get the things she dreamed of. But, as I grew older I began to realize that my perfectionism had become my biggest flaw. I valued the portrayal of the image of a “perfect” girl living a “perfect” life, but two things suffered as a result of this thinking: 1. I did not realize the impact that my actions had on others, and 2. I began to prioritize my needs above those around me. This is what I call perfectionism to a fault... I had become so much of a perfectionist that I feared facing my own failures and feared disappointing others, so I did whatever it took to avoid that. Whether that meant maintaining self-image by covering up a mistake rather than tell the truth of the situation, or working my hardest and training to my best ability in the presence of my team or classmates, while ignoring what others were doing around me. I was not living a life of genuine integrity. I believed that I was leading by example and doing the right thing but what I was really doing was ignoring the needs and feelings of others and focusing on my own self-promotion.
I wrestled with these thoughts throughout college but always ended up writing them off and continuing on my way believing I was still on the right path with God. As I graduated college I began to reflect on how these decisions impacted my inner self, and I realized that my heart was deeply damaged by the way I had been living. It was as if all these shortcomings hit me at once and it became extremely hard to accept my actions and forgive myself. I tried to grow deeper in my relationship with Jesus but I was always pulled back by this voice telling me “don’t forget what you did, the people you hurt, the things you tried to leave behind.” It was as though every time I made a step forward, I was pulled right back by deception in my mind.
I kept trying to do the right thing and be more like Jesus but I felt as though no matter what I did it was not enough to overcome my self-doubt and past actions. Feeling that I had missed out on opportunities to love on others and instead let them down became heavy on my heart.
However, on October 17th, it was all brought into fruition and I realized why. I was not practicing real love as 1 John calls us to. I was engaging in self-criticism and could not forgive myself, but I did not realize that in reality, Jesus knows me and loves me for who I am and delights in knowing that I am trying to be more like Him everyday. So, I am here to encourage anyone going through something similar to know that you are loved and that Jesus knows your heart even when you may think it is not sufficient. If you are someone going through something similar here’s a few nuggets to take with you:
1. Being real and honest is way more powerful than pretending to do everything right all the time
The best relationships in my life have come out of being vulnerable with others. When you are honest and open it enables other to feel comfort in doing the same, and deep, meaningful connections can be made.
2. Compassion is greater than comfort
Caring for others above ourselves is literally all Jesus called us to do, sharing with them His love so that they may know Him through us. When we get out of our comfort zones and show compassion for others when it may feel hardest for us, we are sharing the Kingdom with them.
3. It is absolutely okay to make mistakes, it’s where growth happens
By nature, we are destined to make mistakes, but it is how we respond to the mistakes that defines who we are in relation to Jesus. From experience, my encouragement would be to face mistakes head on, be accountable, and learn from them. If I never admitted or faced my mistakes I would not be where I am today, at peace with past decisions and moving forward to share Jesus’ love with those around me.
I pray that each and every one of us be encouraged in knowing that no matter what the circumstance, Jesus knows the desires of our hearts and longs for us to keep moving forward on the path of His righteousness.
For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.
Hey FAM, I’m Syd! I played volleyball at UC Santa Barbara from 2014-18. I just applied to graduate school to hopefully become an Occupational Therapist and work with children with special needs. I’m super passionate about living a healthy lifestyle so things like exercising, being outdoors, cooking, and baking healthy treats are all right up my alley. I also enjoy spending time with family and friends and snuggling my sweet pup Brady.