“To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless.” (Psalm 119:96)
Lisa begins by giving us an almost comical play-by-play of what she calls the “The Great Sunday Morning Fakeout”. We follow a family’s stressed out preparations for church and grimace as they put on those fake smiles as soon as they hit the church parking lot.
We have had plenty of stressful mornings preparing for church, but this story struck a chord with me for an entirely different reason.
For years, I was the not-so-perfect one looking on with longing at these seemingly perfect little families. I always felt incomplete. Never up to muster.
Because my husband did not come to church with us until two short years ago.
I remember watching couples hold hands during worship and feeling sadness so deep in my soul because I could not share this very important part of my life with my husband, an unbeliever at the time.
Without the help of my husband, getting myself and two little baby boys to church on time–without spit up or some like substance all over one of us–was always a major accomplishment. Needless to say, I never felt that I could carry off the “perfect” image.
I’ll never forget one particular Sunday when no sooner had I deposited Teddy at the Toddler nursery and gotten Jeffrey to the Infant nursery, only to be stalled by a crying baby wanting to eat. I missed the first part of church (my boys never did take a bottle—always steak-al-la-mom) but was relieved to finally sit down and worship.
We had just finished the second hymn when a sweet little lady behind me leaned up and gently tucked the interfacing back into my dress. It was hanging out down my back. Apparently I had not put myself back together after Jeffrey’s brunch.
I wanted to crawl under the pew.
I tell you this, not to draw your sympathy, but to show how the ideal of perfection can harm in ways we may never imagine.
After 13 years of prayer, when my husband finally came to Christ, it was in a way that was beyond anything I could ever ask or imagine (isn’t that just like Him?). Rarely do we ever get to sit in the pew and hold hands, as I had dreamed of those years ago.
Jeff became the praise team leader, see. Most of the time, we drive to and from church in separate cars. I am content to watch him worship God in a way that far exceeds my prayers.
But I wasn’t always. I went through a season of extreme sorrow. I was mourning the loss of that dream of the perfect Sunday morning family church outing. After 13 years of prayer, I just wanted to sit in church with my husband! Was that so wrong?
Yes, it was. It was selfish and small minded.
I mean, for heaven’s sake! God had worked a miracle in my husband’s heart and I was upset because it didn’t happen the way I wanted it to! All because of an image of perfection that I had blown up in my mind.
God taught me a valuable lesson through that season.
He very firmly and purposefully taught me that worship is about Him. It’s not about me. It’s not about having a perfect family experience. What happens in that church on Sunday morning is about what happens between Him and me. Not me and my husband. Not me and my children. Not even me and the other churchgoers.
After a season of arguing with Him about it, it was for me.
But I do go on.
I have a lot of thoughts about the perfect package, the perfect mom, and the perfect wife too. But I’m guessing that, as usual, I’ve “talked” too much.
What Lisa is really exposing for us in this insightful book is the idolatry that we let creep into our lives.
These things can begin as something lovely.
I want to be a good wife. I want to be a good mother.
But when these desires come between me and my Heavenly Father, they become idols.
I don’t know about you, but I am thanking Lisa for challenging me to take a good look at the things that I hold dear.
I’m not necessarily always liking what I’m seeing.
That’s what it takes. And the support of good bloggy friends.
Until next week: BE REAL!