Somewhere between the purple slippers and the scarlet letter, I developed the life-strategy of perfectionism. Although I could not articulate it at the time, I just knew that if I could get it all right, nothing else in my life would go wrong. I knew that if I was perfect, I would be enough.
And for over 10 years, I set out to prove this theory. Pre-marriage classes, Bible studies, leadership positions in our church, excellent parenting books, and money-saving strategies were just a few of the ways I tried. If there was something to be improved upon, I bought a book and worked on it. I would listen to pastors, authors, my husband, and friends, as they offered up advice for how I could be a better person.
I was determined to be the best wife, homemaker, and homeschooler that I could possibly be. I found mentors and I copied them, adapting their views and behaviors into my life.
But all of this “doing” did nothing. I wasn’t enough.
The perfect little world I had tried so hard to build came crashing into a concrete pole and the whole thing fell apart. My body lay frail on the stretcher as they closed the door on everything I had worked so hard for. When I regained consciousness, the darkness fell around me and the crushing reality of abandonment kept my heart from beating. While the suitcases wouldn’t leave our home until several months later, he was already gone. Greener pastures and promises of a better love captivated his heart and he set out for the far country.
The biggest lie I’ve ever believed in my life was about to come unraveled. Tears invaded every moment and space. I was left with the burning questions: How could this happen to me, AGAIN? How on earth could I be so horrible? I had followed all of the steps, dotted every i, crossed every t. But I wasn’t enough.
The unread books in my night stand haunted me. I had meant to get to those sooner. What if I had? Could I have prevented this? What if I had been better? What if I had been thinner or spent more time learning better make-up techniques? And although at first he would tell me that it wasn’t about me, my heart would not believe it.
My plans are shattered, so are the desires of my heart. Job 17:11
I felt comfort in the words of Job. He seemed to relate to my despair. I found myself in hospital bed after hospital bed…dehydrated, broken, and crying out through the pain. I begged God for a miscarriage. Yes, I ashamedly begged God. How could I bring a baby into this mess? I’d been here before, and trust me, I wouldn’t wish it upon my worst enemy, let alone this precious child. We were walking head-on into traffic and the destruction would be ugly.
But this time was different. Rather than blaming God, I clung to Him. Instead of running into the world’s answer, I ran into His arms and there I found something I had never known.
It was there, in the bottom of the deepest valley, that I met Jesus. I know I told you that I had known Him since I was a little girl. But I didn’t KNOW him. I only knew OF Him.
And KNOWING Him changed it all.
Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ John 14:6
Jesus is the truth. The truth I had never known. The truth about me. The truth about Him. You see, all of that doing and striving toward perfection was never going to work. I could never do enough or be perfect enough to BE ENOUGH.
Because I’ve ALWAYS been enough. Maybe not enough for a certain person, but I am more than enough to the only One who matters. And the secret to being enough lies in knowing that He is enough for me. No one else can ever fill that empty place I just about died trying to fill.
It was here I realized that if I am living for God, then the pain of this world is purposeful. Not easy, but purposeful. He already has a plan that works for my good (Rom 8:28). He has already hired the building crew and has already set 1000 things in motion to rebuild the ruins.
Wrapped in promise, I daily meet the sunrise as I wait for the construction to become evident.
Then the nations that are left all around you shall know that I am the Lord; I have rebuilt the ruined places and replanted that which was desolate. I am the Lord; I have spoken, and I will do it. Ez 36:36