At this very moment, there is a piece of delicious lemon blueberry cake in the fridge with mold on it, a quickly rotting pumpkin cupcake on the counter, and a plate full of half-cookies and crumbs on the table.
We never eat the last dessert.
My precious roommate and I are both unbearably female in all the best and worst ways. We rock a kitchen dance party and have already decorated for fall, we drink wine and eat chocolate and like to wear dresses on our days off. We’re professionals and DIYers and I like to think we’re pretty funny and intelligent, too.
We are women, hear us roar.
We also always leave the last dessert, apologize excessively for everything, worry and complain about our appearance, weight, and skin, and spend years of our lives analyzing what others might think of us.
We are women, watch us shrink.
I suppose I should stop speaking for her. I leave the last dessert because I always feel that she deserves it more than I do, or at least that I don’t want to be seen as the one who ate the last pumpkin cupcake.
I apologize constantly for inconveniencing others, which can involve anything from my presence in their lives to an emotional outburst. In fact, when I’m feeling particularly emotional around friends, I get what I call “apology tourette’s” and I begin apologizing often and uncontrollably until I’ve got myself “back under control”.
Because that’s the problem, isn’t it? We shrink when we feel any small loss of control of our lives or our circumstances. The moment we allow someone else to formulate any opinion of us, we lose control of how they perceive us. So we expend countless energy trying to control others’ perceptions of us by being entirely perfect.
Never eating the last dessert. Always looking thin and pimple-free and beautiful. Being smart but not outspoken, funny but not crude, modest but still interesting, professional but not bossy.
I am trying to regain control of how others perceive me, but in reality I am relinquishing control to everyone and everything else in the world– advertisers, friends, coworkers, the random man on the street who tells me he likes my forehead.
25 years of people pleasing has taught me that I cannot make you like me. But I’ll be damned if I don’t try.
The root of this need for control and for others to like me comes from a pervasive belief that I am not good enough. Think about it- I want to control your perception of me because if I don’t, I don’t think you will like me. If I leave you to get to know the real me without the dog and pony show, I’m not sure I would be worth it.
The idea that I, as a woman, am good enough, loved already, and chosen just as I am is entirely counter cultural, but it should be 100% the message of the church to its women.
Through Christ’s love and for His glory, we are loved, chosen, and redeemed, and that means we don’t have to show off any more. We don’t have to worry about others’ perceptions, because their opinion cannot change our status, and our status cannot change their opinion. We don’t have to hide our imperfections, because we are defined by grace and not by shame.
We are women.
I’m going to eat that last cupcake, dammit.
Photo by Chris Blakely, via flickr.