Your Child is Perfectly Imperfect, and So Are You

We are excited this week to share with you a beautiful article by Sue Prause.  Sue is a long-time Woodland Hills attendee who has volunteered and participated in a number of ministries here including Heroes Gate.  She and her daughter, Leah, recently welcomed a new kitten into their home named Simba.

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By Sue Prause, Guest Blogger

There is a part of me that is a perfectionist. That part of me loves to walk into a perfectly organized pantry, enjoy the perfect cup of coffee, see a perfect score on a test, and find the perfect gift for someone special. I wasn’t raised to be a perfectionist—my parents only asked that I apply myself and do my best. As I grew, I learned that being a perfectionist had its downside, and I found I was often setting myself up to have unrealistic expectations—of myself and of others. The problem was, I wasn’t allowing God to work on that part of me. Other people had problems with perfectionism—my little “tendencies” were minor compared to other people. Or so I thought.

I made the decision to adopt as a single parent about nine years ago. I had long dreamt of mothering a child, and I found myself at a crossroad in life and felt this might be where God was leading me. In July of 2009 I was matched with a baby girl from Ethiopia. I was ecstatic! I would prepare, I would plan for her arrival…it would be perfect!! Oops. There is was again. My mind raced to this imaginary place where I was the perfect mother who had it all together; that mom whose child was always perfectly dressed, ate the perfect diet of organic, healthy foods, and learned to read by age three. I spent countless hours preparing her nursery so everything was put in its place, her clothes were perfectly organized in the dresser drawers and her dresses perfectly hung in the closet. During one of my home visits prior to my daughter’s arrival, the social worker peered into my perfectly organized bedroom closet, where all my tops were arranged by the ROYGBIV color spectrum. She laughed out loud and said, “That won’t last!” The perfectionist in me was incredibly incensed…how dare she? I’ll show her!

And then I brought an actual, real, live baby into my life. Let me just say, I was incredibly humbled to meet my daughter face to face, and it was hardly the perfect Meetcha Day experience adoptive parents dream of. I had been traveling/stuck in airports for two days, had little sleep, and was caught off guard the moment they placed her in my arms. After 10 minutes of “who the heck are you, lady” curiosity, my darling daughter started to scream at the top of her lungs. I panicked. I had no idea what to do. Whatever I tried, she continued to scream. It wasn’t supposed to be like this… Somehow, God got us through that awkward first meeting, and we made it home to Minnesota intact.

I learned pretty quickly that all my planning and preparation didn’t take into account that I wasn’t always in control of this little human being. She didn’t like most of the food I prepared for her (and still doesn’t); she would be calm and happy in the car and then start screaming as soon as we entered the grocery store; she didn’t sleep when I (sometimes desperately) wanted her to. Those perfect little outfits I so lovingly purchased prior to her arrival were now covered in spit-up stains. But do you know what I realized was perfect? God’s grace. He brought me to my knees and showed me grace. He showed me how he perfectly brought together me and this particular child to create a family. I am far from the perfect mother I always imagined I would be, but this child loves me and I love her more than words can describe. In my eyes, she is perfectly imperfect. That’s how God looks at all of us.

But by the grace of God I am what I am; and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

–1 Corinthians 15:10

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