“Perfectionists minimize their moral and ethical plus-side and magnify their failings,” writes Miriam Elliott and Susan Meltsner in the book The Perfectionist Predicament. I’ve noticed this phenomenon in clients, friends, family members and yes, even myself. (No surprise, huh?)
I watched one woman hang her head in shame when her job circumstances prevented her from attending a church meeting. Another mentioned how bad she felt that her sick child kept her from having her private prayer time for a few days.
I can give myself grief for not posting an inspirational blog on time or taking too long to respond to a hurting person who sent me an email over the weekend. What’s wrong with you, Joan? It’s like we set up unrealistic spiritual expectations and then worry that God is disappointed in us.
However, here’s what I’m learning (and I love it): God doesn’t withdraw His grace, compassion or support when we fall short in our own eyes. Once we accept the invitation to be His child, He’ll never change His mind. He gives us unique spiritual gifts and then employs us for service accordingly. God’s gift of grace, as well as His promise to comfort, provide for and protect us, are undeserved benefits. His call and gifts are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29)
Grace is the face love wears when it meets IMPERFECTION! Will you give yourself a little “grace” today?
Recently we’ve been surrounded with news of death, explosions, and terror perpetrated on innocent men, women and children. Pain is deep; grief inevitable. Like others, I’ve struggled to find words of comfort and hope. Then I remembered something God showed me through an experience that His Son Jesus had while He lived here on earth.
When one of His best friends died, Jesus arrived in town several days after the burial. At the grave Jesus wept tears of sorrow and anger — sorrow at the death of His friend and anger at the unbelief and wrong so prevalent in an imperfect and decaying world.*
Like Jesus, we feel angry and sad when we see the devastating effects of sin and unfaith. Death, abuse, injustice, and pain are the natural results of living in a world that ignores its Creator and doesn’t value others.
Both anger and grief are normal responses to death, evil, and injustice. As long as we live on this damaged planet, we will experience these and other disturbing emotions. I believe that one day we who have chosen to follow Jesus, will join Him in a sorrow free place. Until then, like Jesus, we can allow ourselves to grieve, to care, to pray and to help wherever we can.
So I’m praying, “Lord, teach me to be honest with my own human emotions, to accept people when they hurt, and to reach out – all while dreaming of a better day to come.” Want to join me?
* Jesus’ story from John 11:33-38.
Annette! My twin-cousin Jean and I loved that name. We watched Annette Funicello on TV. Jean and I even dreamed of naming our daughters (someday in the future) that pretty name, “Annette.” (Jean on left. Joan on right in photo. How about that "pompadour"??)
But we couldn’t both have daughters named Annette. Solution: Jean’s first-born was a girl and she named her “Annette.” She was (and is!) beautiful just like Annette Funicello; dark hair, glowing olive skin, lovely smile. I named my first-born (a girl, also!) Lynnette. She’s beautiful, too, with blond hair, fairer skin and a gorgeous smile.
Then I grew up to write a book about how joy and imperfection can co-exist titled The Relief of Imperfection. Annette Funicello grew up to act, dance and sing in movies, eventually developing multiple sclerosis and showing us all that indeed joy, pain and imperfection can co-exist.
Annette Funicello said, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!” Her words so impressed me that I quoted her on page 123 of The Intentional Woman book that I co-wrote with Carol Travilla. And two books later, Annette’s quote led way to the title of my devotional book, It’s a Wonderful (Imperfect) Life, for women who strive too hard to make it all just right.
It’s amazing how one person can personally impact another and never know about it. One article I read quoted Annette Funicello as saying, “I thank God I just didn’t wake up one morning and not be able to walk. You learn to live with it [MS]. …This just makes me appreciate the Lord even more because things could always be worse. I know he will see me through this.” After Annette’s death on Monday, April 8, 2013 in Bakersfield (the city where my two children were born), her daughter Gina said, “She’s on her toes dancing in heaven … no more MS.”
Annette Funicello touched my life in numerous personal ways, although she didn’t know it here on this earth. Whether we realize it or not, we impact and influence others during our lives, also. That truth encourages to me today, because sometimes (I admit it!) I stress about whether I’ve done enough for God or if I’ve made a difference in the lives of the people He planned for me to touch. So today I’ll cease trying so hard to make that happen and let God orchestra the connections. He can do it, just like He connected Annette and me.
Do you have an “Annette Funicello” story? Or a thought about how God makes connections that inspire? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you.
Joan C. Webb
Writing, teaching, coaching to empower and set free.