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Raise Your Hand

January 17, 2013

At the tender age of three I had my proverbial moment of fame. Well, maybe not fame in the celebrity sense, but it was definitely a moment in the spotlight in a small Baptist church in Amarillo, Texas. It was a moment that I shared with no one else, a moment that I had the attention and adoration of everyone in the room. It was only a moment, and I was too young to even realize I was having a “moment” of any significance, but I have never forgotten it.

I was small enough to stand in the pew next to my dad without obstructing the view of the pulpit for anyone behind me. I was fidgeting because I needed to use the bathroom. Ever wanting to be a “good girl,” I was trying to hold it until church was over. I don’t remember what the sermon was about; I probably didn’t even know then, because I was three years old, and needed to pee.

But, I did hear the preacher say, “Raise your hand.” So I did.

I was confused when the entire congregation broke into laughter. My Dad was laughing, too, when he looked at me and asked, “Really?”

At that point I realized I was the only person with my hand in the air, but I didn’t understand what was so funny.  I quickly lowered my hand and the laughter faded. I was still bewildered as the preacher resumed the sermon. My dad was still smiling.

I later found out that right before the preacher said “Raise your hand,” he said, “If you are perfect.” I didn’t hear that part.  In hindsight, I suppose my sincere incomprehension  as to why everyone was laughing made my claim to perfection even more comical, if not downright adorable.

That instant in my life foretold what would become the mindset I would adhere to and judge myself by for the rest of my life.  It’s never been that I saw myself as perfect; I just wanted to be with every fiber of my being. For as long as I can remember, I wanted not only to be perfect, but to be perfect to everyone.

Even though I knew from a logical standpoint that no one is perfect, never has been, and never will be, I still strove for it. I didn’t realize the chronic disappointment I was setting myself up for, because the definition of perfect was constantly changing according to the people who surrounded me and the circumstances I found myself in.  I knew I could never achieve perfection in the sense that I was human and therefore fallible, but I strove to be as excellent as I could be in the eyes of everyone I came in contact with.

I wanted to be perfect in my soul. I wanted to have a pure and perfect heart.

I say “wanted” like it is in the past. I still struggle with the pursuit of perfection, though I’ve grown tired of the chase. It’s exhausting at best, and devastating at worst. I’m learning to let myself off the hook, but it still disappoints me.  I’m what you might call a Discouraged Perfectionist, moving toward Perfectly Imperfect.

If I have to be imperfect, I can at least try to be perfect at it, can’t I?

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12 Comments
  1. LOL, great line: If I have to be imperfect, I can at least try to be perfect at it, can’t I?
    This is soooo you. I love it.

  2. Well i do know one thing, Your writing is PERFECT! Thanks for posting!

    • Well, I don’t know about THAT, but thanks for saying so. 🙂 AND thanks for reading. AND thanks for pushing me to post again! 🙂

      • treymc44 permalink

        Well,i know i do, and it’s true! And You’re Welcome! And You’re Welcome, Expect me to be pushing you more! lol

  3. treymc44 permalink

    The “I know” was supposed to be deleted lol!

  4. That is an awesome story! I love it!

  5. You make an excellent and thought-provoking point about the pursuit of perfection–much of the criteria for success lies in the eyes of the person doing the judging. Pursuing one person’s perfection might be disastrous in the eyes of another. I think we *should* all strive for perfection, but that has to be the perfection as seen through the eyes of our creator. The good news is that when we accept the work of the cross, Christ’s perfection is imputed to us. Everything after that is just gratitude.

    • You raise an excellent point, as well, brother dear! I actually thought about that when I wrote this. Thanks for throwing it out there!

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