We’ve had a pretty easy time with adjustment. From the outside looking in, I guess our family looks happy and healthy. It really is happy and healthy most of the time. We are very blessed. I do have my nagging perfectionism working against me. The girls taught me long ago that the house is never going to be perfectly neat and truly God placed Brandon in my life to teach me that I am not perfect and neither is anyone else. So I need to give it up and relax a bit.
Recently I read a book called The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. Bear with me. I will probably talk about this book a few times before I get it out of my system. There were many things that I gleaned from this book that are too helpful to keep to myself. One thing I’d like to touch on today is “the perfect image.” Many Christians try to portray a perfect image. I see it all the time on Facebook and I see it in person as well. Some people never admit weaknesses, defeat, or failures. Conversely others focus only on the negative things. I think there needs to be a balance between always having a picture perfect life and always being derogatory. Manning came up with 3 problems with projecting the perfect image.
First, “the perfect image” is not true. No one is always happy. No family is ever perfect. No one always feels optimistic. I’m sorry, but I am not naturally prone to be optimistic about having a 12-year-old in 3rd grade. I would tend to think that I would have seen great improvement by now in my son’s academics, especially with the amount of time that is spent with him. But that’s just not a fair burden to place on a child with my son’s background. Just because some internationally adopted children have blown through a few grade levels by now does not mean my son wants to or is capable of this type of ambition. I need to be still and let my son mature and grow at his own pace. I learned a secret: Those families that always seem to be picture perfect are indeed not perfect. We need to reach out to them because those “perfect” people are probably really hurting people. They are afraid to own up to the fact that their “perfect image” is a hoax.
Second, projecting a flawless image keeps us from reaching people who feel we would not understand. Putting aside adoption and anything to do with adoption, sadly I have messed up big time in my life. I have struggled with getting back up on my feet after such disasters. I struggle with guilt and doubt and the devil really tries to throw past failures back in my face ALL OF THE TIME. I was encouraged when Manning stated that some of the most mature Christians he has met were those who had failed and learned to gracefully live with their failures. It is my heart’s desire to not linger in the past and not let it cripple my joy or my usefulness to the world. I would much rather gain maturity and wisdom through past inadequacies. I’d rather admit my failures and be able to help others through some difficulties in their lives.
Third, Manning says that even if we could live a life without conflicts, sufferings or mistakes, it would be a shallow existence. Have you ever met a shallow person? I have. They are really boring. Actually, they are often very conceited. In fact, if you’ll allow me to be blunt—I generally cannot stand to be in their presence. I really don’t trust shallow people. I feel like they are hiding something. I want to say to them, “Come on. Give me the dirt. What skeletons are you hiding?” No one is ever THAT perfect.
Anyway, Manning talked about viewing life like a child. He told a story about a child who was running from a tiger and fell off of a cliff. The child landed on a rope and looked below at the sharp rocks. Immediately in front of the child was a wild strawberry. Instead of looking back and worrying about the tiger or looking forward at the jagged rocks, the child ate the strawberry. I need to learn to enjoy the journey. I need to stop looking back at where I’ve come from both good and bad. I need to stop counting down the days until the particular trial is over. I need to focus upon right now. I can do this because I serve a God that is bigger than any trial I go through. He’s covered any sins I’ve committed past, present or future. No matter what, God loves me.
Romans 8:35,37-39 “Who will separate us from the love of [m]Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”