serious stuff

How A Piece of Paper Debunked the Image of Perfection

I want to begin by stating that I’m obsessed with my apartment. Bromley 208 is, in my professional opinion, the best place on campus. Ellie is so passionate, quippy, and sassy. Anne-Milda is genuine, considerate, and radiates joy (she also speaks Norwegian, which I feel is important to note). Becca is a goofy, endearing, wickedly smart Hoosier. They make me better ((not only by instituting an accountability ‘Swear Jar’)) but by providing a loving space. I’m beyond blessed to be their friend.

One of the reasons I love them so much is because we are all introverts who value meaningful, vulnerable conversation. As Becca says, they are restorative.

Tonight, we talked for a good two hours about campus life and Christian girls. It’s safe to say that being a young woman raised in the Christian faith at a Christian school is not easy.

First of all, we’re super smart, capable, modern women. And yet, we’ll never quite escape the subtle and not-so-subtle hints at becoming the “Perfect Christian Girl”. You’re being hurled ideas like “Ring by Spring” and that you’ll find a guy only when your relationship with God is good enough. You have goal already set for you and surprise! it’s not a degree or your career or being in a happy place with God. You’re waiting, you’re passive, you’re playing a game. You’re striving for perfection, in appearance and in relationships.

You look around your campus at girls who don’t look like you, talk like you, or want the same things you do. It’s inevitable to ask yourself what’s wrong with you? Why does the blank space on your left hand feel like your biggest identifier and not your internship, or friendships, or your sick bowling average? Why are all your floormates your freshman year engaged? Why is it that your path the Church gives you is so narrow? Why is it that any other choice you make is “alternative” or you’re just “finding yourself” before you eventually get married?

Why does it feel like you’re the only way who feels this way?

Becca had an interesting idea that we have an idea already of ourselves and what we want. It’s like we have this hypothesis already conceived and from everything we hear, we have to throw out what doesn’t support it. We’re bias to the contrary. We think “I’m the worst. I’m unlovable. I’m not worthy”. Every ounce of love and encouragement we hear of the opposite, we can’t acknowledge. But the one mean thing said that supports this lie, we cling to.

Sin is pervasive and destructive. The lie of human perfection is sin. Therefore perfection is destructive.

That’s why it’s so easy for us to believe these lies as women. It plays to our innate insecurities, our blinders to reality. It says “you alone are not perfect. You alone struggle”.

Anne-Milda this year is leading a spiritual life group about the harsh realities and struggles college girls face and where to find God in it all. She was at first embarrassed that a video played during chapel where she called out “Ring by Spring” and instead encouraged sisterhood. Everyone immediately began whispering and talking to each other.

And yet, I saw the sign-up sheet for her group. Every line was filled, even the margins, the sides, the bottom, and the top of the paper. The paper was filled with the names of girls who were saying “I’m not alone. I want something different. I am different. I reject perfection. And that’s okay”.

In a tradition of women striving for human perfection in the form of a husband, 2.5 kids, and a white picket fence, there are those who don’t know how to reconcile this image with themselves And we’re here to say, join the party. Come on in. Take a seat. Bromely 208 is here for you.

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The fiercest girls on campus.

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