Perfection surrounds us. The world of the modern woman is saturated with airbrushed magazine images and picture-perfect social media squares. Society tells us that a perfectly curated life is the key to happiness. We long for beauty: in our bodies, our homes, our friendships and our families. Beauty has become equated with perfection, so we determine the standard of perfect for each part of our lives and strive to meet a never-ending list of goals in the elusive search for a beautiful life.
Unfortunately, the perfectly beautiful life is impossible. We would have to be Wonderwoman to live up to every expectation put on modern women. I bet even Gal Gadot can’t manage it all. I’m sure today you are living under one or most of these expectations:
•You should be beautiful, without spending too much time on yourself.
•You should be thin, without obsessively exercising or dieting.
•You should create an organic and non-toxic home no matter your income and budget.
•You should give the best of yourself to your family, but not neglect your work life.
•You should always be happy even when your life has been full of disappointment.
•You should wear something worthy of an #ootd-gram even if you’re staying in.
•Your house should look like it’s been professionally decorated even if you’ve never had any training.
•You should have a side-hustle that will one day become a thriving business that lets you work from home while you care for your children.
•On top of it all, you should practice self-care and get eight hours of sleep every night.
I haven’t even covered all of it, but you know the places where the weight of these expectations is beginning to crush your soul. And it is a weight, isn’t it? Because perfection is actually impossible.
Despite all our best efforts, we all fail to meet the endless lists of requirements for a beautiful, successful, and exceptional woman. Even though we know it’s impossible, we still long for beauty, so we put on our armor of perfection and pray that we’ve met enough of the requirements, that the perfection we can manage will make us beautiful women.
The Problem with Perfection:
• It keeps us from revealing our true selves. It leaves us feeling the shame of secret failures, of never being enough.
• Our quest for perfection prevents true intimacy. It keeps us from knowing ourselves and letting our true selves be known. It inhibits our ability to give and receive love, because true love is the ability to offer and accept grace.
• Our armor of perfection keeps us from accepting grace: from ourselves, from others, and even from God. Grace is unmerited favor, receiving something we have done nothing to deserve.
The Beauty of Grace:
• Grace allows for flaws. Grace is beautiful because it takes off the armor of perfection and allows who you truly are to shine forth. It embraces the unique. Instead of having to conform to the list of what a superwoman looks like, it allows you to discover how you were created to offer beauty to the world.
• Grace Benefits Others: Once you have taken off the armor of perfection and accepted grace, you are able to give grace back to the world, to your friends, to your family. Because you no longer expect perfection, and you are free to love people for who they truly are.
• Grace is Attractive: Grace is the beginning of true beauty. A woman of grace appeals to the people around her. She makes people feel safe, loved, and accepted by lowering her standards of perfection. From her place of grace, she can extend grace to others, forgiving offenses and celebrating their strengths.
The change from impossible perfection to beautiful grace starts right here, with us. When women begin to let go of impossibly perfect standards and accept grace, it causes ripple effects of grace in the world around them. It creates a new standard of beauty, one that cares more about love and acceptance and less about fitting the mold. In grace, we can stand imperfect yet fully known, loved, and accepted, and absolutely beautiful.
Maggie Combs is a wife, mom of three busy boys, writer, and speaker. Her first book, Unsupermommy, released last year. When she isn’t busy wrangling three wild kids, she shares practical encouragement at www.unsupermommy.com or on Instagram and Facebook.