“For the law appoints as high priests men in all their weakness; but the oath, which came after the law, appointed the Son, who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:28
Perfection. I have strived my entire life to be perfect. I cannot remember a time I did not try to do any task to perfection. Including now, my therapy. I’m not. Nobody’s perfect. I even misspelled imperfection when I typed the title for this post.
As survivors of sexual assault some of us may have a need for perfection because we feel it’s the only way to be accepted. We might have thought, maybe if we were perfect they would stop. Maybe if we did everything right it wouldn’t happen again. Except it did keep happening. Yet, our need for perfection is a characteristic which stuck to us like glue.
Now, I find myself striving for perfect therapy sessions. Anyone in therapy can tell you there is nothing organized or perfect about a therapy session. Not if you are truly working through issues. I am frustrated my life seems to keep getting us “off track” in therapy. However, my trauma therapist insists anything which comes up is what needs to be dealt with, and therefore, we are always on track. Just not “my” track.
My “perfect” life I had planned. Teach school and marry by 25. Have at least 2 kids by 30. Stay at home with my children and have at least 3 total. Have family game nights. Date nights with my husband. Bring up our children to know God and trust in Him. The Christian family I never had growing up. I wanted to change history.
It never happened. I did teach. For almost 11 years. Then, I had a breakdown over the memories of the sexual abuse and assaults returning. Short term, then long term disability. Terminated from my job.
Numerous psychiatric hospital stays. 3 suicide attempts. Depression, PTSD, anxiety, and a personality disorder. A hysterectomy at 37 depleting all dreams of children. Now, at 41, 9 years later, and I’m still “working” through the early stages of my trauma.
You would think I would have learned through all of the imperfection from the past 9 years I could not continue to strive toward it. However, I do. Every single day. Each therapy session. Every new task I try to accomplish. I reach for perfection.
Perfection is the sin. Wanting to do something well is not. By attempting to be perfect I am telling God I am as good as He is. I don’t need Him. I can run this life on my own. Except I can’t. No one can.
If we’re perfect, or we try to be, why did Jesus die on the cross for our sins? Because if we’re perfect He had nothing for which to die.
Nevertheless, He did. Because we are imperfect humans. We need God. Nothing we ever do will be perfect, and that is okay. It’s okay, because it means we get to have a wonderful relationship with a perfect God who loves us and wants us just as we are.
Something as survivors we are not use to. Being loved just as I am without someone wanting something in return.
I am learning being imperfect is a present from God. It allows me to receive His gift of sacrificial love and a relationship with Him.
I am working hard to not strive for perfection. I will always try to do my best, but I have begun to pray not to be perfect. Do you need to join me?
I have always longed to be perfect for everyone, even You. Please help me not to strive for perfection, but to do my best and allow You to help me in this fallen world. Help me be okay with the pace of this journey to recovery and recognize the gift of love You’ve given me.
© 2018 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.
Great post, Susan. There’s such a balance needed between doing our lives well and with the excellence of Colossians 3 …. or being stuck in that perfection stronghold. Thanks for making that clear.
Thank you, Rebecca.