Feb 222013
 

Well, here we are my friends.  At the end of our Standing on Peace Body Challenge.

In thinking about and participating in this challenge, I have realized a few things about myself.

Perfectionism:

I have a heightened awareness to the role perfectionism plays in my day to day life.  Perfectionism enslaves me most of the time.   Whether it be performing duties as a wife and mother, in my responsibilities of the home, in my eating and exercise, or even how I think about myself, perfectionism plagues me.  I recently read a quote about perfectionism that hit home with me:

“Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought: If I look perfect, and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or minimize the painful feelings of shame,judgment, and blame.”

― Brené BrownThe Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You’re Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are

At the bare minimum, this type of belief system – one where keeping it together staves off unwanted emotions – steals my joy and prevents me from fully participating in life.

I want to be free from this.  I don’t want to miss out on life’s beauty because of my perfectionism.  And I certainly do not want to be my own worst enemy because I can’t extend grace and kindness to myself.  This challenge renewed my commitment to embrace letting go.

Vulnerability:

This challenge helped me identify why vulnerability is hard for me and why vulnerability is worth it.

Vulnerability goes against my natural tendency to stay closed off to people.  My closest friends know when life get rough, I crawl into my “shell”.  Which in reality, is the worst thing for me most of the time.  I also see that my perfectionism feeds my tendency to display my mask.  To put on the facade of having it all together is the opposite of being authentic and sharing my heart.

The good news is that I DO see the irreplaceable benefits of risking vulnerability.  I get to choose to be vulnerable with those who will be kind with my heart.  It increases depth in my relationships, brings freedom and turns my weaknesses into strengths.

I want authentic relationships in my life.  I really do want to expose my insecurities and limitations, in order for healing and connection to take over.  This challenge made me realize vulnerability won’t happen on it’s own.  I have to be intentional and thoughtful about not closing myself off.

It is my prayer you have been encouraged to take a deeper look at yourself in regards to perfectionism and vulnerability.

Are you ready to let go of your fears of being vulnerable with others and not being perfect?

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 252013
 

Have you ever been unable to stop yourself from ruining a moment you knew should be absolutely joyful?  I have.  I almost ruined an entire day in Paris.

Not long ago, my husband and I had the opportunity to be in Paris.  We were without kids so we were enjoying calling the shots of our schedule.  One particular morning we had planned on getting up and going for a run together.

But, when the alarm went off, I could barely peel my eyes open, let alone move my body.  My husband asked if I would like to join him, I mumbled something about sleeping and I was left in beautiful silence for about an hour more.

It was beautiful.

Until I regained consciousness and realized I hadn’t gone running.  Instantly, a sweep of guilt, even anger, took over.

How could I be so lazy?  To actually miss running… in Paris nonetheless?  My hubby clearly was not lazy.  Why couldn’t I be like him?  Now he’ll be able to eat one more croissant than me!

I was literally disgusted with myself.

I quickly got ready and headed down to breakfast with my husband.  My grumpy mood hung over our table like a soggy blanket.  It was depressing, uncomfortable, unenjoyable and made you want to be just about anywhere else.

I let my idealism and perfectionism completely steal my joy.  In a moment when I wish I could have let all expectations go, I was comparing myself.  Stepping into that old trap of counting calories when I didn’t need to be.  I was labeling myself as a failure when that was the furthest from the truth.

I didn’t account for the fact that a parent desperately needs sleep when the kids aren’t around.  Or the fact we were jet-lagged.  I didn’t allow myself any allotment of grace.

I was rooting my identity in exterior standards, rather than who God says I am:

I am loved, adopted, chosen, accepted, redeemed.  (from Ephesians 1:3-14)

Thankfully my husband and I can talk about these deeper things without too much pain.  I’m thankful to have someone else in my life who can help me see truth.  Sometimes we need someone else to help us wake up.  To splash the cold water of truth in our face.

Recognition is always the first step to healing, right?  We need to start recognizing when our ideals or the world’s perfectionism is calling the shots.  When someone or something other than God dictates how we see ourselves.

Is your identity in your being perfect or is it in who Christ says you are?

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 182013
 

My first experience with vulnerability was a train-wreck. I believed those around me who had told me vulnerability would bring connection and healing. Instead, it offered me a lethal blow and left me in pieces for over a year afterwards.

My eating disorder had gotten so out of control, I could no longer function properly and I could no longer hide it.

So I told my boyfriend of 4 years that I had a problem. I needed help.

He told me he could never marry someone as weak as me. We broke up about six months later.

It wasn’t until about four years later I realized I had turned my back on vulnerability. I had built major walls. And I was terribly lonely deep within because of it.

At just the right time, God gave me a growth group leader who would change me.

As is typical with a new Bible study group, many of us did not know each other well. Trust and vulnerability had to be earned and cultivated over time.

Our leader came in every week, wearing her heart on her sleeve. She shared her struggles, her hurts, her joys. She creatively thought of prompts and exercises to help us each open up. Some of us did, some of us didn’t. But she never let on that she was disheartened. She just kept on being vulnerable with us.

Week after week, I watched in sheer amazement at how our leader was able to bring out the “realness” in others. Even if they weren’t planning on sharing, they would. She asked pointed questions, but more importantly, she let us into her soul. And revealing her soul wasn’t usually the easy version either.

I never got to the point of true vulnerability in her group. I never was able to let them into the parts of me that were eating at my soul. But in my heart, I loved and admired her ability to share herself. At times I was envious that she could be so brave. How would I ever be there too?

Through her interactions with our group, she lit a flame inside of me. I wanted to be this kind of person. To be someone who could draw out others, by sharing my heart. To be someone who breaks down the wall of superficiality and prompts sharing stories that run red. To be someone who doesn’t turn her back on vulnerability. To be someone who believes and trusts that vulnerability touches souls.

She touched my soul. She was one person who God used to send me down a very different path. Her example marinated in my soul and has shown me what vulnerability can do.

Our being vulnerable can impact others deeply and have a lasting effect. Even if we don’t see it right away. Even if we never see it’s effect. We must trust it is in sharing our hearts – our joys, our hurts, our fears, our pasts, our futures – we open ourselves up to God’s love, healing and gift of meaningful friendship.

What does your relationship with vulnerability look like today? Have you turned your back to it? Or are you open to sharing your story in order to help others?

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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Jan 112013
 

Real Women Challenge: Audi from Jillian Willis on Vimeo.

Perfectionism and being vulnerable with others have been two of my deepest struggles over the past twelve years.  They’ve caused me a lot of heartache.  My need to be perfect, at times, drove me away from family, friends and God, and into unhealthy relationships, an eating disorder and isolation.  It has taken me a long time to realize so much of my wrestling has stemmed from these two roots.

I know I’m not alone in this.  Countless of you women struggle with me.

The pressure we feel to be perfect in so many areas -whether it be appearance, career, athletics, our home or our kids behavior – and our resistance to being vulnerable are often ways we try to tell ourselves we’re ok.  We feel in control, acceptable, good enough and we are less likely to be hurt.

So often, we feel alone.   Maybe we feel other women aren’t safe, aren’t really for us.  And they especially wouldn’t be for us if they saw our “wrinkles and warts” – knew the real us.   (Those of us who have the kind of girlfriends we can call when we are in shambles – well, we should get down on our knees and thank the Lord for those friends.  They are treasures.)

I think Jesus meant for us to share our stories with each other.  Whether they be full of color and beauty or full of grey and pain.

I am learning that far more healing can take place when we open ourselves up, rather than coil ourselves within.  Joy can come flowing into our lives when we link arms and hearts with others who are living life authentically.

I want to ask you, to join me in challenging yourself over the next two months to do two things:

1.  Practice being Vulnerable

  • We are practiced in putting up walls, protecting ourselves and being on guard.  Still for many of us, being vulnerable is linked to being hurt.  But, it is in being vulnerable with safe people where we can find the beginnings of authenticity, connection and healing. Start Taking Notice: I want to challenge you to start noticing when you stop being your “true” self and start building up the walls.  Is it around certain people?  Is it when a certain topic comes up?  Is it based on your performance or lack of performance in something?

2. Embrace NOT being perfect

  • It’s not typically considered popular or perhaps beautiful to be a mess, in a mess, or associated with a mess. Counter to what is ingrained in us,  NOT being perfect can actually bring healing and freedom, for us and others around us.  NOT having it all together can actually make you approachable, helpful and encouraging to others.  Start Taking Notice: I want to challenge you to start noticing when your need to feel or be perfect is highest.  Is it linked to your appearance, your performance, your home, your status, etc.?

I won’t lie and tell you this challenge will be easy.  It will probably make you uncomfortable.  But deep relationship cannot blossom and our twisted hearts cannot be untangled until we are willing to be vulnerable and embrace our imperfections.  I know for myself, it has stretched me, but I do find I am able to breath and be kind to myself a little bit more as I work at this.

I will be praying for you as you bravely take steps towards opening up your heart.  I want you to begin this challenge by reading a previous post of mine called “Simply Undone”.

2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Admin

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© 2012 Standing on Peace

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