Perfectionism. Is that a dirty word to you? Is it a sweet thing of order that brings a sense of peace? Is it a painful word that recalls memories of comparison and all those times you were not good enough? Does it expose you? Does it validate you? Do you feel a calm within when all things seem “perfect’? Does it control you? Back you up? Propel you forward?
How does that word hit you?
I was in Houston last weekend visiting my oldest daughter and her hubby, her and I ran over to Ulta, I needed some new face powder and wanted her help to color match and find a new product. She stopped one of the consultants in the store and asked for help and next thing I know I found myself in a chair being color matched, keenly aware of my discomfort but not sure about the reasons underneath fueling the stirring.
This stranger up close, examining my skin, mirrors, makeup…I wanted to run and hide! (I didn’t thankfully, can you just imagine that scene? Grown woman flees from makeup counter like a scared mouse being chased by a cat…ridiculous!) But I wanted to flee like that scared mouse.
So as usual I have been pondering-
what is that all about?
I have some conclusions, some confessions…
I have not traditionally worn alot of makeup – my mom wears very little, so it wasn’t something I grew up with or knew how to do and I was very fortunate to have pretty good skin growing up, I didn’t need alot makeup so I never really learned how to manage all those creams and powders, brushes and pencils. It’s always a little overwhelming and uncomfortable when people start talking about it because in some ways I feel a little clueless and I don’t like feeling clueless and not good at something – I don’t like that – Confession #1
Having someone so close to my face examining me was super unnerving…I am fine with showing my underbelly, exposing my imperfections the way I choose to expose them (control is a little issue for me). But having someone look and see the unevenness of my skin, maybe a whisker or unruly eyebrow I missed when plucking is unsettling because I feel out of control – exposing my imperfect in an uncontrolled way – I didn’t like it – Confession #2
Looking at myself in a mirror, I am much better than I used to be, but all those lights, all those makeup covered girls, it’s hard not to feel “inadequate” and well to be perfectly honest, unattractive. The lights, the mirrors, I focus on the things I dislike the most – I hate that, I work hard to change that – but I still do it – my eyes are small, I have thin lips, my face is aging – wrinkles, veins, grey hairs…it’s hard not to be critical when so much attention is drawn to the things I struggle with in the mirror – I don’t like this – Confession #3
Of course the timing of all this doesn’t surprise me – I can’t help but think that all of this stirring and realization is just the beginning of the healing of my sexual self. The intimate, covered up, private sexual self.
Our sexual self is not just the parts we cover with bathing suit pieces, our sexual self starts with our faces. When puberty begins, for most of us, one of the first changes we experience happens on our faces – blemishes, pimples, zits pop out and these little dots can distort our view of ourselves. To be able to look at our faces and be kind and gentle with ourselves is the first step in healing our sexual selves.
Dr. Kevin Leman in his book, A Chicken’s Guide to Talking Turkey with Your Kids About Sex, states, ” A common mistake parents make is to focus on the ‘bathing suit’ areas of the body when approaching the topic.” He reminds us that from day one of our lives we were all created as sexual beings and we must start at “first base” not second and third when it comes to sex. Talking about the changes happening on a kid’s face (first base) is actually the best place to start with sex talk. Why is that? Well, think about it – loving our sexual selves, our bodies, and our sexual anatomy starts with loving our faces – we are not just a body, our faces, our eyes specifically, are the ways we connect on a deep level with another human being – they are the “windows to our soul” as they say, and the first and most important act in sex, because sex, at it’s essence is deep connection with another person, an intimate way to be known and to know another. It starts with the eyes!
Acceptance and love for our sexual selves does not start between our legs – sorry if that’s a little crude for you, but it’s the truth. When we think about our sexual selves we typically think about our vagina, obviously, because it is our sexual organ but that is not where we must begin. Our love and accceptance for all things sexual starts by looking into our own eyes and appreciating the color of them, the shape of them, the wrinkles at the corner that may be starting to take shape, contorting and changing the landscape of our faces as we have traditionally known them.
The aging process is hard, we change right before our very eyes. Inside, our girlish hearts, we still feel youthful, young and then we pass in front of a mirror and we are often a little surprised at the reflection of an “older” woman looking back. I asked my mom once when she was in her 60’s, “Mom, when you walk away from the mirror and don’t see your reflection, how old are you in your mind?” Her answer surprised me, “I am in my 30’s.” She is in her 70’s now but I am sure if I asked her the same question she would have the same answer. The heart doesn’t age, we grow in wisdom but not in “oldness” – yes, I know that is not a word, I had to make one up because nothing else quite fits that experience.
So what does all this have to do with perfection? Not that I ever felt perfect when it comes to my body, I have always struggled with the “imperfection” I have believed about it but I have been careful to control how I express and reveal those feelings about my own imperfection to others and last weekend that unraveled a bit more for me. It was good to see myself through a clearer lens even though it was uncomfortable. I don’t want to be driven mindlessly by things I feel but can’t wrap words around. So I am choosing to embrace the imperfections and see them differently –
and, by the way, who says they are imperfections anyway?
God says that He knit me together in my mother’s womb, every detail about me He knit together, so what about me could possibly be imperfect??
Psalm 139:14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Hebrews 10:14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Just because it’s different doesn’t make it imperfect! I have labeled things about myself because of comparison and looking out instead of facing the mirror and embracing the view. To heal my sexual self I must start at “first base” — look into my own eyes – to know and be known.
My sexual self starts with intimate relationship within.