My little sister gave me a bottle of wine for my birthday. “Goodie Two Shoes, Pinot Noir,” created by Middle Sister Wines. (Yes, this is a winery named for all the middle sisters in the world). The label reads:
Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful. Or because I graduated top of my class. Being almost perfect is a terrible burden to bear. So I must confess I do have one or two vices…. [chocolate, spy novels, sea salt on anything, dreams of living in the Caribbean and scuba diving every day for the rest of my life.] I hope my secrets are safe with you. I have an image to protect. Let me buy you a glass of wine. (Emphasis mine.)
Funny but ouch!
My sister knows me. This wine label description resembles me. (However, I filled in my own vices. I do have them, but they’re different than the list on the label. I’m sure most of you could fill in your own vices too, right?)
Anyway, being almost perfect is a terrible burden to bear, and I have an image to protect rings too true in my life. As Jim and Scott have implied in recent sermons, it’s exhausting to keep up our self-imposed images. Even if they are good, they are in place to impress or please others. We all know no one is perfect, so why the appearance? Why try so hard to protect my precious image?
I believe this burden goes back to my upbringing. As a middle sister in a performance oriented, perfectionist, high-achieving family, I behaved properly. I excelled in school and sports. I kept my room clean. I brushed my teeth every night. I didn’t argue with my parents. I always came home on time. I volunteered. I was prom queen. I did what was expected of me. My list of what I should do and who I should be was lengthy. My family’s image was on the line, you know. Even today when I make a decision a little nagging thought runs through my mind, What will others think?
After surviving this way for so long, I realize I’ve become who everyone else wants me to be. I’ve stayed in a pretty, safe box. I’m not vulnerable, that’s too scary. I’ve kept up appearances, avoided conflict, and stuffed my feelings. I’m cautious about letting down my guard and letting people know me. I’m people pleasing and appearance driven and I’m exhausted!
Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, writes, “To set down those lists of what we’re supposed to be is brave. To love ourselves and support each other in the process of becoming real is perhaps the greatest single act of daring greatly.”
I am ready to dare greatly.
It’s going to take some bravery for me to trust others to like me even if I don’t do what they want me to do. Or to speak out on what I think or feel, even if it’s uncomfortable or I risk making someone else feel uncomfortable. It might take awhile for the new me to truly believe I am enough just because God says so. I don’t have to protect any image anymore or pretend life is perfect. I’m free to be me.
My new brave journey begins today. I’m letting go of what people think. Instead, I’m choosing to believe I am who God says I am.
So, if you see me at church, eating chocolate, sneaking out a little saltshaker from my purse and sprinkling salt on my bagel, or singing off-key to a God who hears and loves greatly, don’t be surprised. Just know I’m making progress in being the real me.
By the way, I’m not tired anymore. I’m free!
Jeannie Blackmer is a wife and mother to three boys. She’s authored three books, contributed content to more than 20 books, and written articles for a variety of magazines. She loves her family, chocolate, scuba diving and salt. She also loves hearing others stories and believes we need to be real to experience real community.