When Perfection is Too Much Work

Stark naked and vulnerable. That’s how I felt…during a heart thumping, voice-quivering moment…when I took off the pretentious mask of perfection in front of my friends.

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I didn’t plan to bare my soul. However, emotions came to a head…stripping my polished veneer. Exposing the real me. The moment was sobering even for my friends.

Remember Eve in the Garden of Eden? Instead of a mask, Eve tried to cover her shame with fig leaves and hide from God because “she was afraid.”

Afraid of what? God’s reaction and the consequences of having her own way? Or hearing the disappointment in His voice.

Daughters of Eve, have you been there like me? Hiding behind a protective mask..afraid of  what others will think?

We tend to sweep our imperfections beneath a rug and stand on it so no one peeks. Pretend to have it together, and play at the perfect Christian.

We aim for control? Believing if we….

Keep our children in line, our house clean, our faces powdered, our marriages together, our skeletons in the closet, then we’ll appear and feel more….What?

Perfect? Better than?

Be honest. How many of us show up at each other’s homes, secretly relieved, when we find dust bunnies and a ring around the tub? Have you ever opened someone’s refrigerator and smiled. “Is that green mold on the creme cheese? Good! It’s not just me.”

Or we learn to evade our friends’ white-glove inspections and raised eyebrows. Instead of opening imperfect homes and serving second-rate food, we meet our friends at a safe, neutral place where…

We discuss the price of milk, the latest gossip, and exchange recipes…while the whole time…we hold our sticky game cards close to our chest. Let them think I have a royal flush, but not a bad hand.

Even our personal best seems flawed when we’re listening to the enemy’s lie. Isn’t that what happened to Eve?

Why do folks exhaust themselves playing Perfection if nobody can win? Wouldn’t life be easier if everyone admitted…we’re human? (Want to hear about toilet paper stuck to my shoe?) Let’s get real!

Only, nobody wants to go first. Either we’re embarrassed to reveal too much of ourselves. Or fear wagging tongues. Please don’t tell.

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Authenticity is difficult, but let’s face it. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath,  remove the mask, and allow our “ego” to skinny dip in front of our friends before they feel free to do the same.

Thankfully, my girlfriends are solid. They covered my naked, trembling heart with their love and prayers. And showed me, I’m not alone.

Even in this.…masquerade.

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8)

Photos: Karen Foster

Author: Karen Foster

I'd like to say I've changed, but after decades of living, I still have the same four passions. My relationship with Jesus, spending time with family, attending live theater, and writing devotions & first-person stories about a loving, faithful God who reveals Himself in our every day circumstances.

10 thoughts on “When Perfection is Too Much Work”

  1. Thanks Karen, for being so REAL!!! Isn’t it refreshing when you come across someone who really takes you ‘just as you are’, hey? So enjoy reading your blogs! God bless.

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    1. Suz, thank you for calling me REAL. That’s a great compliment. And the only one that I ever hear. ha And yes,since I don’t know how to be anything, but real….I’ve had to avoid some folks whose standards I can’t meet.

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  2. It’s always helpful to have close friends to be that first attempt at lowering my mask. Vulnerability is scary, but easier when we have relationships with a vested interest. My dearest friends can often forgive me when I can barely forgive myself and am still struggling with looking God in the face. It can be the first step toward healing…but isn’t that what friends are for?

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    1. You’re so right, Libby. Vulnerability is scary, and perhaps the greater responsibility rests on our friends to love us when our hearts are most tender. However, I’m also learning to be more vulnerable with women who aren’t my friends….not airing dirty laundry…but being authentic.

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  3. Karen..thanks for sharing. Keeping on the mask is too tiring! We are special because the Father said we were loved by Him…and the older I get the easier it is….I am going through some “female” issues and have laughed so hard lately. Sometimes I might be too transparent, but it seems to free up others when they see it in me.

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    1. You must have read my mind! Yesterday, I saw an email we’d written to each other, and been wondering how you’re doing since we last wrote. I was so touched by our mutual prayer for one another…even though we’d never met. God is so good to bring sisters in Christ together for the building up of one another…even via the internet! Would love to hear from you again via email!

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  4. Yes bearing all is frightening, but living behind the mask of perfection is also damaging. I’m glad that you were able to bear all and find support in your bearing. I’m learning the importance of being real, transparent and authentic. When we are ourselves we grow. Thank you.

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