Reason #4 Why I Can’t Say No: I can’t stand admitting that I can’t.
On the outside, friends, you might think I’m just the girl next door. You see me come and go, live a relatively quiet life, and you never know my secret. My deep, dark, disgusting secret. Until now, because I’m about to tell you: I’m a raging lunatic perfectionist.
My husband and my closest of friends are snickering because they had that figured out LONG before I. Maybe others are raising an eyebrow. After all, it’s not like being around me is like an episode of Hell’s Kitchen. I don’t go around screaming or firing people who don’t live up to my expectations. In truth, the most insane perfectionist expectations I reserve for myself alone.
I hold myself to a standard that is beyond ridiculous. So much so that I often find myself frustrated with other people who seem to be ok with themselves even as they behave in less than perfect ways. How do they let themselves off the hook so easily? Not so for me! I seem to know no other way but ON the hook. So terribly, irreversibly ON the hook.
Even in areas where it seems I’m laissez-faire, I’m still beating myself up inside. Keeping a perfect house, for example, has forever been beyond my reach. So in that case, I just don’t try. Rather than continue to try and fail, I elect not to try. Ditto for my desk. It’s a perpetual state of chaos and I do not have the energy to continue to attempt another failed organizational strategy. I laugh sometimes that I’m like Pigpen on Charlie Brown. An ongoing cloud of stuff just follows me. I don’t mean to create it and I’m not sure where it comes from but it’s always there. On the outside, it seems to others that I don’t care. Just last week, a coworker moved several things on my desk. Her explanation was “just trying to make you a little neater.” I smiled and said nothing. But inside me was a cauldron of humiliation and frustration because I really do expect more from myself, and sincerely do wish I had a neater desk. I joke about it sometimes, but the truth is that it’s frustrating to me to have not yet conquered my “pigpen” type qualities.
Same goes when I have to admit that I can’t do something. Whether it’s that I don’t have time, ability, or even the interest, saying “no” means I admit that I’m less than perfect, and um…. I hate that.
Hold on to your hats because I’m about to blow this whole thing up by admitting the truth: THIS IS NOTHING BUT PRIDE. Nothing at all except me wanting to be in the front of the line, every time. Nothing except me wanting the satisfaction of being the best. Not me, showing mercy to other poor less-than-perfect souls by letting them off easier. Nope. It’s me holding myself to a higher standard because I LIKE THINKING I’M THE BEST.
Totally and completely opposite of the way a daughter of the Most High God should be. (Pride’s first on the list of things He hates, you know.)
Any of you who are still reading after seeing in print such an awful truth about me, thank you. So what now? Check this out:
1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. 6 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7 Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
It’s grace, my friends. The ultimate price was paid for me when I was completely oblivious. You too. No need to be in front. No need to be the best. No need to beat myself up for failing to achieve whatever my latest unrealistic expectation happens to be. I’ve been loved, accepted, and declared OK already and it had nothing to do with me. I simply had to accept it for the gift that it is. That kind of enormous gift makes my need to be first and best seem so silly, doesn’t it? Why all that trying for a fleeting feeling of self-satisfaction when there is a much more abiding and steady confidence that can be mine through no effort of my own? God’s plan sure seems easier when it’s put that way, huh? Perhaps that’s what Jesus meant by the whole “my burden is LIGHT” thing.
And since I no longer have anything to prove, seeing as how Jesus did it all FOR me, since I know that not wanting to admit my imperfections is really an imperfection in itself, and a BIG one at that, Reason #4 is officially defunct.