I know who I want myself to be. I want to be the beautiful sweet girl. I want to be the girl that when she talks to you, she makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room. I want to be relatable, trustworthy & safe to be around. I want to be fashionable, attractive, and have clear skin. I want to have a cute house with Pinterest-worthy decor--and I want it to look like I wasn't trying. I want to be patient, great with kids & passionate about my husband. I want to be on-time & organized. Diligent. Motivated. Driven & yet able to rest. I want to have pure thoughts about men, but also be extra sexy for my husband. I want to be strong, brave & courageous. I want to be a good communicator, with a fantastic blog & an interesting Instagram feed. I want to be peaceful & wise. I want to be excited, kind & photogenic. I want to remember birthdays, send cute cards, and pick out thoughtful gifts for loved ones. I want to accomplish every dream God has for my life.
I am also painfully aware of who I am. I am beautiful, but I often doubt it. I am sweet, but I don't have have good boundaries. And sometimes my sweetness is motivated by guilt & my desire to please other people, rather than motivated by love. I have a hard time saying "No" & due to that, I have suffered countless hours of anxiety & feelings of depression. I have some bad habits- I crack my knuckles, and my back, and I pick at my pimples. I am not always excited to be a mom. I am often late & procrastinate on projects. At times I get overwhelmed about things like choosing outfits & decorating my house, because I want it to be perfect. I rarely feel like I've done great at things, I tend to look at what I missed rather than valuing the good I've done. I definitely experience lusting after guys that aren't my husband. I also don't feel very sexy, nor do I want to have sex with my husband as much as I wish I did. I spend too much time fearing how others will think of me. I don't feel organized. I am known to miss emails & appear "too busy" for my loved ones. I get annoyed by people. And sometimes I feel like God is disappointed in me.
Well... Recently I have been reading a book by Dr. Henry Cloud called, "Changes That Heal". One of the things He talks about is the relationship between our "ideal selves" & our "real selves".
In short- the ideal self is the one we imagine & want to be. He says it is like a "distant memory of what we were meant to be" before sin entered the world. Having ideal desires for different parts of our lives is part of being a human. We all have it. Many times he says, "Those wishes are the lost potentials of the image of God within." It is normal to imagine the ideal & long for it.
The real self is who we actually are, not the one we wish to be. It is NOT the ideal, no matter how much we would like it to be. Dr. Cloud says, "The reality of our situation is that our real self has fallen; the ideal has been lost. We are beset with weakness and fallenness; we are broken and not what we would like to be." Our real self is prone to sinfulness & does not want to be weak, because our ideal self would not be weak.
What I'm learning is that as people, we tend to value the ideal self over the real thing. It is more beautiful, more lovable, and attracts the masses. The problem is... It's a fantasy. IT IS NOT REAL. The more we pretend to be the ideal self, the more likely we are to end up starved for love. Because as good as it feels to receive affirmation for the person we are projecting ourselves to be, we know who we really are, and that broken soul within us will waste away in the darkness of rejection. Love is most powerful when the person receiving it feels fully known. We will never be fully known through things like social media and photographs. Even in real life- if we are "faking it" then we are not real. It is possible to be a person with a lot of fans but few friends, and a lot of "followers" but no genuine connection with the people we are in contact with. In this our "ideal self" gets puffed up, but our "real self" continues to feel condemned and insignificant.
We will always have good and bad within us. The real & the ideal will be in our hearts until the moment we are ushered into heaven. So the issue becomes learning how to function healthily with both of them present. Naturally the real & ideal will be at war with one another. Dr Cloud describes it like this, "...The ideal judges the real as unacceptable and brings down condemnation and wrath on the real...they move further and further apart."
BUT he goes on to say, "If we adopt a loving and accepting tone toward our real self, there is hope for transformation. If we are able to accept the parts of ourselves we do not feel are ideal, then those parts will be loved and healed. They can begin to grow in ways never before imagined. Acceptance is the answer...that is grace."
Perfectionism will destroy us, and letting go of standards all together will lead us to dangerous places. But...
"In a life where standards are accepted and cherished as goals, and our true self is accepted and loved, there will be peace and growth. We can be real people."
God's love meets us exactly where we are, extending grace and acceptance, despite our flaws. Aware of that love we must also come to terms with the fact that we live in a broken world. Good and bad function side by side. We don't need to pretend that everything is perfect, because its not. We also don't need to walk around deflated because things go wrong. It happens.
There is incredible freedom in being okay with both the real and ideal parts of ourselves. Every rose is bound to have a wilted petal. Every day has the potential for rain. Every person is likely to fail. Pimples will come, so will bad hair days & emotions that we don't want or understand. But ultimately we are still lovely and there is no condemnation for our weakness.
"Therefore, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus...". (Romans 8:1)
So even though the gap between who I am and who I want to be is obvious,
I am learning to love ALL parts of me. And interestingly enough, as I love the "real me",
I see qualities emerge that look a lot like the "ideal me"!
|Here I am :) Real & ideal & everything in between!|
(This photo was snapped on our 24 hour layover in Hong Kong!)