The Perfect Girl is Gone

Okay, time for a Disney-linked blog post, are you ready? Here we go. 🙂

I don’t know about you, but as a single twenty-something with a full time job and other social commitments, I seem to spend a lot of time in my car alone going from place to place. Home to work, work to home, home to church…the list goes on. Recently I realized that the copious amounts of time I spend driving has become my “me time”. I’m constantly surrounded by other people while driving, sure, but let’s be honest, we don’t particularly care what the person in the car next to us is doing as long as they’re not doing it too loudly or staring at us like a creep. So when I’m driving, I let my brain decompress by blasting my music and singing along like nobody can hear me. Oddly enough, I find it relaxing. Occasionally though, these moments alone become a place of inspiration in addition to the relaxation.

Lately, the car speakers have been flooding my ears with the soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen, which a friend was brilliant enough to gift me with this Christmas. And when I say flooding my ears…I mean I’ve probably listened to the entire thing about fifty times or more and know the words to nearly every song verbatim. But of course, my favorite is the movie’s main song, “Let It Go”. For those of you who’ve seen the movie, Ana is probably most of your guys’ favorite. And why not, she’s the gorgeous but dorky heroine who saves her sister and an entire kingdom from an eternal winter at great personal cost, plus she gets the guy. At the end of the day though, Elsa is the one I can really relate to, the one who grabbed my attention. And she did it with this song. [No plot spoilers in the clip folks, I promise.]

This afternoon on the way home from work, I was once again indulging myself with “Let It Go”, and one particular lyric stuck in my mind this time: the perfect girl is gone. Much of Elsa’s young life was spent trying to hide what she considered to be an imperfection, and it was freeing to her to finally lay her past aside and simply be herself, whether perfect or not.  Some of you who read this will know that “perfect” was a word that was woven through much of my sense of self as a younger person. Let’s just say that there were many times I felt I needed to be “perfect” in order to feel satisfied with my life, and was ashamed when I didn’t live up to my own ridiculously high standards. It made others see me in a goody-two-shoes sort of way that I hated, and at the same time I felt compelled to try and live up the standard anyway, even though I constantly fell short. Like Elsa, striving to be “perfect” was a burden on me. In fact, it was exhausting. Then at some point in time now lost to memory, I had a lightbulb moment.

I’m not perfect, and I don’t have to be.

Now let me back up a little bit. Jesus forced Himself into my life at a young age. When I was eleven years old, the majestic and infinite God of the universe whispered to my soul, “I AM.” In an instant my entire life changed as my little mind realized for the first time that all the Bible stories, the sermons, the Sunday school services, the songs….were REAL. It was all real, not just some nice story that people tell themselves so they can try to live better lives. At the time I called it my rededication to faith, but in hindsight I’ve come to see it as the moment where my faith in God truly became mine–not just something nice I did with my family on Sunday mornings. However, it wasn’t until much later that I came to fully realize the meaning of the gospel, what was actually going on that dark day on the hill of Golgotha. I didn’t understand how depraved, how sinful, how imperfect I was. Basically, compared to God’s standard, I’m a filthy, disgusting little nothing of a human being that doesn’t even deserve to know what grace is, let alone obtain it. And guess what? We’re all in that boat. No matter how “perfectly” you attempt to live your life, you will still fall short. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise is simply a very persuasive liar.

The realization of my own depravity caused my inner perfectionist to despair…until I also realized that it’s because of Christ’s sacrifice that I don’t have to be perfect. I simply don’t have to try and fail and try and fail to live up to my own or any other deluded standard of what “perfect” means, because Somebody else is already being perfect for me. Somebody already sacrificed His own perfect life in order to save my imperfect one. I don’t have to live up to Perfect because He already is, and He loves me.

That my friends, is true freedom. To live in a reality where you can know day in and day out that you’re considered good enough…even though you’re really not. I can feel free to live my life with abandon, knowing that even if I mess up (which I inevitably will), there will always be One who still accepts me, still loves me.

Today, I’m still tempted to take up my old ways and be the perfect girl, to get by on my own strength and make myself look good doing it. Most of the time though, I catch myself in time to realize that the “perfect” girl is gone, and she doesn’t need to come back. It’s okay that I’m imperfect, and I never will be.

[Side note: I’m often blown away by how little people tend to think of the phrase “Jesus loves you” or “God loves you”. It’s become this trite little saying that people brush off without a second thought. But think about it like it’s actually real for a second. Think about the fact that there’s a being in existence who created an entire universe filled with wonderful and spectacular things beyond our wildest imagination, simply for his own pleasure, because he’s good and creative and awesome. Imagine him making not just your body, but your very soul, the very essence of who you are, out of nothing, and how intimately he knows you because of the fact that he made you. Imagine how desperately heartbroken he was when you did something bad for the very first time, and he knew that your soul could never be truly united with his because of the sin in your heart. Then, imagine him being so much in love with you that he considered his very life second to yours, and willfully sacrificed himself in one of the most torturous methods known to man…so that you could live. That’s what I mean when I say, “Jesus loves you.”]

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Stray Cat Soul

Sometimes I treat my soul like a stray cat. You know, you pretend it’s not there and forget to feed it until it gets desperate and ends up ripping up your leg demanding you pay attention to it.

That’s not the way it’s supposed to be, is it?

Now, at the phrase “feeding your soul” I imagine a lot of you will come up with different ideas for what that actually means. Here’s what I mean when I say it: 1) actually communicating with the One who made your soul (what a concept!), 2) reading the stuff He gave you to read, aka your Bible (talk about the ultimate IT guide, right?), and 3) taking that information and doing something with it (don’t be a sponge that just soaks stuff up and doesn’t spread the love). Now, things doesn’t necessarily have to go in that particular order, and many times they don’t, but what I find myself doing many times is trying to complete the third thing on that list without consistently doing the other two. Which if you think about it, doesn’t make any sense at all.

Okay, I sense my snarky side trying to make an appearance, so let me calm down and say what I really wanted to say. It saddens me that so many of us forget to give ourselves the one thing we really need in order to survive and really live: a relationship with Jesus! So many of us who call ourselves Christians say that we have a relationship with God, but in the monotony of day-to-day life forget the big picture and just do our own thing. And when our lives start to sputter and spin out of control we wonder what on earth happened? I think a big part of why this is so common is that the physical world constantly demands our attention, and as physical beings we are overcome with our senses. We see it, hear it, taste it, smell it, feel it…but that’s not all there is. But we can’t forget that, in the words of C. S. Lewis,

“You don’t have a soul. You are a soul. You have a body.”

So don’t deny yourself what you need in order to live your life to the fullest. Don’t ignore your relationship with Christ until all communication with Him has been severed and you need to start from the ground up…again. I find that when I take the time to sit down with God for a while, in spite of all the other things shouting at me for my attention, the rest of the day goes SO much better, even if the circumstances are truly suck-ish. I’m not saying that accomplishing this is easy, because it’s not. But it’s the only thing that’s really worth it.

“As a deer pants for flowing streams,
so pants my soul for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God,
for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?”

Psalms 42:1-2