Every hair is perfectly in place. Her make-up is tastefully applied by a careful hand and her clothes are chosen with care. This is a woman who takes care with her appearance. She might not be the most beautiful woman in the room, but she carries herself with pride and confidence. She appears to be happy and content. She is eager to serve those around her and listen to their concerns or prayer requests. Her husband and children appear to love to each other; they do not seem to fight or have major disagreements. Her children behave in public; they do not run wildly through Target or cry at Olive Garden. To the outside world she seems to have it all together, a happy marriage, good children, a content life with fulfilling ministries, and close friendships. This might describe many of the women we see at church every week. Of course, this is just how we see their lives, because many of us are experts at applying our facades before leaving the house every morning.
For years, I felt like I would never measure up. I worried that I was doing something wrong. After all, I would look at women in my church and see these perfect pictures of home life and wonder why doesn’t it match up? What am I doing wrong? I thought I wasn’t being a good enough wife or Christian. I thought, if I prayed harder or read my Bible more I would understand how to be that perfectly submissive wife. Maybe if changed the way I acted and try to be more like Mrs. A or Mrs. B, then other women would believe that I was doing everything “right”.
I wonder how many new Christians are struggling with this same feeling of failure. How many see these “perfect” examples of wives and mothers and think they are doing something wrong. It has taken me years to realize that God doesn’t make every Christian the same. I am not designed to be like Mrs. A, I am created to be Stacey. God made me to be loud at times, and have a somewhat sarcastic personality, but he also made me to be an encourager, who loves to write. I am unique, just like you are unique. I have learned that God does not make mistakes. I am not like my friends and that is okay. If I continue to try and push this person that He made me to be into the shape of someone who isn’t what He desires, then am I truly serving God?
As a woman, I want to be accepted and feel like I belong. A person visiting a church might feel intimated when they walk into a church and see so many “perfect” families. In church, we tend to wear facades, we smile and pretend life is perfect. Someone who is visiting a church might walk in and see that all these people have their lives together and they don’t, where does that leave them? I am not suggesting that we wear our hearts on our sleeves. Don’t pour out your troubles to every person you meet, but you can honestly say, “It has been a tough week. Pray for me.” Instead of, “it was a great week!”
“People find it unbelievable when a Christian’s life is always perfect. It drives them farther away from the Lord, not closer to it.” This was the message I heard a few weeks ago, when our Children’s Pastor, Tedd Erikson, gave the sermon at church. He spoke on hypocrisy. How does hypocrisy and a Christian’s perfect life go together, you ask? When Christians pretend or put up a front that they have a perfect life, then they are not being truthful with themselves or with the world. We are pretending to be someone we are not. We might be missing an opportunity for God to work through us, if we orchestrate our lives to always appear to be perfect. When we put on a mask are we hiding who we really are or pretending to be someone else? Either way, by hiding behind the mask, we are not allowing God’s true work to shine, even if it isn’t shiny and perfect.
Christians are far from perfect. I see this every day when I look in the mirror. I am reminded of this when I lose my patience with my sweet children or when I fail to honor my husband. One word describes my attitude, thankful! I am very thankful to God for His mercies which are new every day.
As a Christian, I should be the first one to offer this grace and forgiveness to another Christian or to someone who isn’t a follower of Christ. What a ministry that would be in our fallen and depraved world! This is another way to remember our calling to remember that we are here to serve God and be His followers. He never promised it would be easy, He just asked that we follow Him, even when life might not be perfect.
Don’t forget your calling.
While at a writer’s conference this past September I met a woman, Laura McClellan. A few weeks ago, we started a virtual conversation about churches, which in part led to this blog. I encourage you to read her blog on this topic; it was very helpful to see this issue from a different angle. Here is a link: