Friday, March 13, 2015

Thoughts from a Recovering Perfectionist: A You're Loved No Matter What Book Review #FCBlogger

**I received a copy of You're Loved No Matter What in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and my struggles with perfectionism are 100% my own.

My struggle with perfectionism began as early as I can remember.

In my earliest school years, we did not do the typical letter grades, but rather a system of S and various other letters. To this day, I don't remember what those other letters would have been because for the longest time I did not realize there WERE other grades. School came very easily to me, and I soon became known as one of the 'smart kids'. I was given special permission from my teachers to check out chapter books, I was given third grade work in the first grade and in the third grade, I actually tested into my school's gifted program (which admittedly was a ton of fun, but nothing too impressive!). 

I think it was that label- real or imagined- really drove my perfectionism at a young age. I was never under pressure from anyone else to do anything other than my best, but I had this idea in my head that I had set this bar for myself and if I didn't live up to it, I would disappoint everyone around me. An A wasn't good enough, I needed an A+. Do your best, quickly became do THE best. 

This drive to be the perfect student drove me all throughout high school. I was a member of the National Honor Society, placed second in the state for my English academic team and ultimately graduated in the top percentage of my class. I applied for my dream school (an ultra conservative private Christian college) and a university closer to home and was accepted to both with no problems. (Ultimately I decided to listen to my heart rather than my perfectionism and opted not to attend, but that's an entirely different story!) When it came to academics, I was the poster girl for perfectionism.

But it didn't stop there. It may have started with academics, but my perfectionism quickly reared its ugly head in other aspects of my life. I felt I had to look my best to fit in and be accepted. I was naturally very thin (underweight even) and felt the pressure to stay that way. I felt the pressure to dress a certain way, wear makeup each and every day and felt that if I could just be blonder than my natural blond, I would be more accepted. I strove to be the perfect Christian...I attended church each and every Sunday- sometimes even multiple times a day. I surrounded myself with Christian music and read my Bible daily...great things of course, but in the midst of it, I also felt like I could not make mistakes or I would again let others down. I strove to be the perfect daughter (though I know now, I was nowhere close)- I didn't party, I never snuck out and I really strove to be 'good' all the time.

When I became a wife and mother, my perfectionist tendencies once again found new ways to present itself. Was I being the best wife? Was my home clean enough? Was I doing enough with my kid (learning time, arts and crafts, fun outings)...throw in a dash of social media showing everyone's perfect self and the pressure is very real.

But here's the thing about perfectionism: it's not reachable. We can try and try and try, but never reach that point of perfection. Oh, we might have our areas where we excel, but even then it's not perfection...and we cannot do so in every area of our lives. So, here are some truths from this self-proclaimed perfectionist:

  • I may be smart, but I will never have all the answers to every question. There are many people much smarter than myself. And that's okay.
  • I love my children with my full heart, but I make mistakes. I get frustrated, lose my patience and sometimes just need to step away to collect myself. I don't always make the right parenting decisions. And that's okay.
  • I'm a decent cook, not great but I can follow a recipe...but I still find our family eating out more often than I'd like to admit. And that's okay.
  • I will never be a good housekeeper. I just won't. You'll never be able to eat off my floors, there are baskets of laundry everywhere and those cobwebs, well, I'll get to them, one day. And that's okay.
  • I love my husband more each day, but I will never be the perfect wife. I'm human, I suck at communication and I WILL say the wrong things sometimes. And that's okay.
  • I love doing arts and crafts with my kids, but I'll never be a Martha Stewart. And that's okay.

At the end of the day, the drive to be perfect only leads to disappointment, stress and heartache. Believe me, I've been there... the fight of recovering from perfectionism is a battle, one that I fight each and every day. Are you in this fight too? If so, Holley Gerth's newest book, 'You're Loved No Matter What' is for you:

"How would your life be different if you truly believed you're loved just as you are?"

Holley Gerth poses this compelling question at the start of her latest book. As someone who has connected with thousands of women, Holley has seen the dangers of becoming trapped by impossible standards of beauty, achievement, and even spirituality. 

In You're Loved No Matter What, Holley shares how God wants to set the hearts of women free by revealing the lies we believe and the scandalous grace and acceptance offered to us instead. When we know we're truly loved, the response is to love in return--and that changes everything.

Lay down your unrealistic expectations and embrace who God created you to be, pursue his purpose for your life, and accept the love you've been freely given.

Holley Gerth is one of my absolute favorite writers, and I always find her words to be encouraging and just what I need to hear...and this is especially for this book. What a beautiful reminder she has given us that we don't have to be perfect because God loves us just as we are. As a recovering perfectionist, I felt like her words could have been written just for remind me specifically that the drive to be perfect is one I must walk away from, it's simply unattainable by any human here on earth. She shares her own struggles and even admits it's still a struggle for her as well...and for us perfectionists, that's something we NEED to hear. ("She's perfecting NOT being a perfectionist. I HAVE to perfect it too!"... it's a vicious cycle!) This is certainly a must read for the perfectionist in all of us.

You're Loved No Matter What is available to purchase now at Family Christian. You can find more wonderful, uplifting books from Holley Gerth there as well. Stay up to date and connect with them at the links below:

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"Pleasant words are as a honeycomb: sweet to the soul and health to the bones." Proverbs 16:24