Perfectly Imperfect

chippedGlen walks in on me weeping over a sandwich.

‘Are you okay?’ he asks.

We watch as a  fat tear drops into the cream cheese.


‘What’s up?’

‘I’m making sandwiches.  For tomorrow’s lunch.  They’re a disaster.’

He inspects a corner.

‘Seem fine to me,  Same as usual, right?’

Right. They are the same as usual.  But we’ve got Guests Staying. And the Guests will be eating these sandwiches.

I open my mouth and close it again. I want to explain but I can’t.

Suddenly I feel like my whole life is under scrutiny and falling short. I’m no good at being a hostess and looking after others. I’m no good at being a wife. I’m scared that when folks come into my space they’ll see the real me  –  uptight and neurotic and ungodly and weird. Then they’ll run.

I’d like to run too.

But instead, I hoover. I dust.   I bake burn. And I cry – over a sandwich. It looks so pathetic and the bread’s crumbled and I reckon other wives come up with things that are better than ham and cheese and I think of all the other areas I fall short in.  I wish I was different to who I am and I don’t know who this perfect sandwich is for or if it even exists but suddenly it seems like my whole identity is bound up in what I put in tomorrow’s lunchbox.

I blurt it out. ‘The sandwiches aren’t Good Enough. The sandwiches are Me’.

I know it doesn’t  matter. Except that actually it  does.  Because underneath the sandwiches is a woman who’s afraid she’s not enough. And the question is, enough for what?  Enough for who?

It’s not my lovely guests.

It’s not my husband. Or my family or friends. Or God.

It’s me. My pride.  My ridiculous standards.  I must be perfect. The laws that in Jesus I’ve died to – but try and reinstate.

I must be perfect. But I can’t. And the more I try, the more I lose myself in myself.

There’s a verse at the beginning of Hebrews 3 which says this:

‘Dear friends, God has chosen you to be his holy people, SO’…

how would you finish this?

– Think about how much He loves you?

– Think about how godly you are?

– Think about what you’ve done to be chosen?

It says this:

‘God has chosen you to be his holy people, SO think about JESUS’.

Not the cleaning.  Not the cooking.  Not the nail varnish or the egg rolls. Not yourself – whether accusation or congratulation.

Christianity is not about being good. It explodes the idea that I can ever do enough. It starts with my weakness and my defeat.  I can’t do it Lord.  I can’t keep your laws and I can’t keep my own. Help me.

And He does. He lifts me out of the arena of performance. Not just once, but every day. Every minute, as I create new laws I cannot keep.

He shows me acceptance and grace. Then He lifts my eyes – away from me . To His perfection.











15 thoughts on “Perfectly Imperfect

  1. As a very un-domestic goddess, I do identify with this. Thanks for the comforting words of truth about His Grace x

  2. If Christ is the only one who really knows you and cannot harm you, well then, just relax. You don’t even have to be like Christ, you just have to be the real Emma in Christ! How do I know this? For one of Glen’s studies, categorically declares this.

  3. There are sometimes some very strange ideas in my head about being good enough. I particularly like the clause at the end ‘every minute as I create new laws I cannot keep’ – can you hear the klaxons going off?

  4. thanks so much Emma, this is so encouraging, thanks for your honesty. I feel exactly the same as you, I worry and worry about what other people will think of my food when I entertain and feel like I don’t measure up, but thank God that we have nothing to do with our Salvation and that Christ has done everything for us… thanks again for your wonderful blog, such a help to me.

  5. This rings so many bells. I admire how you can find encouragement in the Bible. It gives me hope that I can do that too, in the future.

  6. In my book, making sandwiches the day before makes you a pretty classy hostess :) Your guests are very lucky to be so well taken care of. And cream cheese, ham and tears- interesting combo. Maybe it will take on…
    Hurrah for you- you are amazing x

  7. Ahhhhh!!
    I totally resonate with this!!!
    Have feel so mawks (majorly awkward) over my total lack of classy hospitality skills being a trainee pastors wife. I’m in a constant state of denial or loathing over it!
    Thanks for this honesty!
    Amen, let’s think on Jesus!

  8. Emma
    We often get hospitality mixed up with entertaining!

    Entertaining (clever food, impressive home, beautiful you, etc) is for the glory of the HOSTESS. Hospitality (welcome, comfort, kindness, etc) is for the honor of the GUEST.

    When I get the two mixed up I am crazy sobbing self centered freak. I went to culinary school and have done professional catering, so this has nothing to do with know how.

    Wanting to be perfect for me is always goes back to me wanting to be worthy of worship. Yuck!

    Catering tip from my favorite chef:
    Keep hot food hot, and cold food cold. Make sure everyone has something to drink, and make sure there’s enough. (this could be cheese and bread and grapes folks)

    If we step aside and let HIS PERFECT love flow through us out to others, no one even remembers the food!

    I am sorry to think how often I have refused to feed His sheep, just because I had less than “perfect” to share.

  9. Great advice Caroline – and I love the distinction between entertaining and hospitality. Makes it (a little!) more achievable..

  10. I have been saying ‘mawks’ all weekend (Sophie K) -love it, especially the onomatopoeia. It neatly sums up my 20yrs as a ministers Mrs + hospitality (but nobody died.)
    You are all amazing here x

  11. Love this post (and the comments). Definitely adopting ‘mawks’ in to my already Miranda inspired vocab :)
    I cannot tell you how refreshing honesty is to read! I need to hang out with you Emma in real life – it would do my soul good. Anyone who cries over a cream cheese sandwich is an instant kindred spirit ;) x
    Ps please get yourself on twitter ;)

  12. – ‘mawks’ is inspired Sophie

    Kate – a cuppa would be lovely..! Not sure yet about twitter but I may well crack

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