Saturday, February 27, 2010

All That's Left is the Dirty Laundry

This was a week of regrouping for me, both mentally and physically. After plowing through the Beth Moore book and uncovering several knotty roots that need digging up from my life, and finally seeing (ohpleaseGod,ohpleaseGod) the tail end of a familial bout of illness that started way back at New Years, it was time for me to shake off all things deep and dark, take a few deep, cleansing breaths and boil the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of all of our sheets. Do y'all do that after everybody's been sick at your houses? I do it every time - it's like a ritual to me, gatherin' all those nasty, stale linens up into a pile and carting them down to the laundry room where I shove them violently into the washer and run steaming, purifying water down over them and add a shot of bleach and plenty of foamy, fragrant detergent. Puttin' the clean sheets back on the beds, crisply tucking and snapping tight, soundly asserts with shaking fist to the weeks that've seen me weak, ragged and helpless, "Mama's still alive and kickin', and she's back in charge!"

Within myself, I've done a bit of ritual cleaning, too. I've been wallowing in emotional mire for so long, really, and the Moore book brought the stale, mustiness of my struggles to a higher level of consciousness. I joke around here quite a bit about being a perfectionist and holding myself to a higher standard than that to which I hold anyone else, but what I haven't said, because I'd never really looked at it this way, is that this perfectionism, and this higher standard I strive to reach are not signs of a noble heart or even someone who truly wants to please God or anyone else. They are symptoms of my own pride. What I'm saying to myself (and to the people around me) is, "Just doing enough - just being enough? Those are fine for YOU. But I am better than that."

Seriously. That's where perfectionism comes from, ultimately.

Think about it, (and don't confuse my criticism of perfectionism with a message that nobody should ever try to do her best or reach her ultimately potential, because that's not what I mean) WE KNOW BY NOW THAT WE CAN'T BE PERFECT. It's the truth. We are human beings, flawed deeply each in our own ways. My brain knows this, yet I die a little bit inside -- I allow myself to be deeply, deeply discouraged about who I am -- when I fail to live up to this perfect self I think I am. Even when I perform to par, but I'm just not THE BEST. THE PRETTIEST. THE SMARTEST. THE WITTIEST. Or THE FAVORITE.

It eats me alive!

I'm not living my own truth there.

Thing is, in looking at it all under the light of Beth's teaching and the scriptures she uses to illuminate her theory, I wonder how on earth I've missed this for so long? That I truly, at my core, believe that I am better than other people, and that's why my own inability to be perfect is such a HUGE and unnecessary stumbling block in almost every aspect of my life! Because I just can't accept that someone born to be SO AMAZING is just. plain. human. after. all.

Listen to what Beth says about what that kind of pride can do (and it can, oh yes ma'am it can, I'll be a witness to it!):

"... It's about ego, and we all have one. Let's face it. Sometimes people and situations make us feel insecure because they nick our pride, plain and simple. All the blows of life aside and every other root [of insecurity] yanked out of the ground, we wrestle with pride. Give some thought to the glaring connections between the two:

We're not the only women in our men's lives, and that hurts our pride.

We're not the most gifted people alive, and that hurts our pride.

We're not the first choice every time, and that hurts our pride.

We're not someone's favorite, and that hurts our pride.

We can't do everything ourselves and that hurts our pride.

We're not someone else's top priority, and that hurts our pride.

We don't feel special, and that hurts our pride.

We don't win the fight and that hurts our pride[...]."

And check out how Christians, specifically, use our Savior as a springboard for feelings of pride:

"Created in the image of God, we instictively know that something enormous is inside us. Pride is the result of mistaking the eternal for the temporal. We end up looking in to look up instead of looking up to look in. We get fixated on every self-gain or self-loss until, in our inordinate self-protection, we end up licking our wounds to the point that they can't heal.

Pride. A root of insecurity if there ever was one. We will never feel better about ourselves by becoming more consumed with ourselves."

Oh, I walk away from this book with so much, y'all. So much validation for what I've always THOUGHT were the roots of my own insecurities, but also this huge AHA! that has hit me right upside the head - that there's this fundamentally WRONG belief in me that is ALL MY OWN, and that frankly adds enormous, highly flammable fuel to what really may have been tiny little brushfires without it.

And this pride of mine is the festering, putrid load of dirty laundry that has to be boiled back to purity first, before any of the other issues in front of me can be successfully washed clean.

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  1. Wow! Does that hit home. I also struggle with perfectionism, and as I read this I can see it's rooted in pride. I did a study a few years ago that talked about how much behavior goes back to pride and it's really amazing, and shameful too.
    I can see I'll need to do this study.
    PS - Glad to hear you are all feeling better!

  2. (a) Beth Moore ROCKS!! She just tells it like it is - ready or not! Love her! :o)
    (b) You ROCK!!! You do! Thank you for bearing your soul about your journey through this book, and through the muck and mire it's dug up. It's comforting to me to know that I'm not the only one.
    (c) I have GOT to figure out how to do this book with my Mom's Group before too long! :o)

    Have a great weekend, Doll!!

  3. I truly believe pride is the root of every single sin on this planet. It always comes back to this ugly, stinkin' attitude in our hearts.

    Beautiful, truthful, amazing post, Megan. May God cause your new lessons to purify and refresh your heart.

  4. Oh how we pray for that Living Water to take our dirty stinkin heart back to where it was meant to be.

    I love the honestly here, you are cutting through so much that people place the blame on, when usually that "blame" just allows them to stay prideful.

    I'm sure it won't surprise you to know how timely this post is -- we've been having conversation about how pride is the secret root of everything (just as Kelly said).


  5. So glad to know you are human just like so many of the rest of us out here. Reminds me of a Bible study I did with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
    For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted. Luke 14:11
    Pride and humility are very hard for us women.
    Great post

  6. Great post. I've got to do this study! Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  7. Just wanted to say I love you, imperfection and all. xoxo

  8. I never understood pride until I saw it in my husband (and I don't mean that as a dig at him- I'd never been married to a man before him!) and it caused me to see where I might hold my own pride. It IS dirty, isn't it?


  9. I just love the way your honesty brings to me my own aha momemt. I love Beth Moore and need to pick up this book and learn more about that ugly word I love to deny - "pride". Thanks for a very thought provoking post Megan.

  10. Thank you so much, sweet Megan, for sharing your thoughts on this book. I've never read anything of Beth's that didn't shake me up and turn me loose a little bit. I so look forward to getting my hands on this one!

  11. And what is this book called? Because I needs it.

    Thanks for being so open and honest with this. It is such an encouragement to me.

  12. "We end up looking in to look up instead of looking up to look in."

    OUCH! You stepped on my toes.

    I'm sitting here in my bed for the third day in a row after three days off this week thinking my students are in dire straights without me 'cuz the sub I've had stinks.

    *Snort* As if God doesn't love them more than I do. As if He's not the Master Teacher and I am simply a stand-in for Him!

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