Monday, June 09, 2008

Is My Value in My (im)Perfection?

My commitment to the Young Adult Volunteer program will be over at the end of next month, and the summer is already flying by. I have loved my time at Preston Taylor Ministries . and just being a part of such a meaningful ministry. In addition to the opportunity to help children learn and share my faith with them, I have been blessed by the work environment at PTM.

It has been incredible and a totally new experience to work in an open and honest environment that feels safe and makes it easier to acknowledge our weaknesses, sinfulness, and struggles with each other. I've left staff meetings surprised by what we've shared--sometimes expressing frustrations with each other in a way that I've never heard but that is so productive and healthy. I've learned a lot about relationships and communication and realized that I never want to work anywhere and pretend to be or want something I'm not.

But as much as I say I don't want to pretend, I found myself doing just that at the beginning of my time at PTM. My boss was really excited to have me on staff, and he began delegating pretty quickly. And I soon discovered that I could not do all of the work he had given me and only work the 35 hours that my program calls for (which is in addition to other program responsibilities). But it felt almost impossible to say that despite the fact that one of my goals this year was to develop better work/life boundaries. The idea of going to my boss and asking for deadline extensions or explaining that I couldn't do all of the work almost seemed out of my realm of possible options.

During my first evaluation my boss shared wonderful and affirming feedback with me, but then we started talking about why I don't come to him when I need more time for assignments I just couldn't stop crying. My boss asked a few questions and made a comment, pointing out that it seemed that I might find my value in my perfection. He asked me "If you're only valuable when you're perfect, what does that say about your Creator?"

As I reflected on that question and why I'd rather work all night long than admit I can't finish something by the given deadline or ask for help, I realized that some of the issues at my last job may not have been the job insomuch as they were my issues. My belief that I'm only valuable when I'm perfect was pervading yet another area of my life. I am grateful to have a boss that went beyond the surface issue to help me find the root cause--and to remind me that my value has absolutely nothing to do with my (im)perfection. I've had to remind myself of that truth often as I say "no" to things and strive to create balance in my life. It's hard to imagine finding another boss who would invest so much in me, creating an environment that surely gives God reason to smile as we do life together in a way that enables us to serve Him and each other better. This year has been such a gift; it's hard to believe it's almost over.

p.s. I'm grateful for cold water, shade, sunglasses, swimming pools, sleeveless shirts, ponytails, and ice cream.


AA said...

Ally, you could have saved yourself the trouble of crying and just asked us. We would have told you straight. ;)


Bosnia in < 5 days!

I recently learned a new Bosnia fun-fact. It is illegal to ware camouflage if you are not in the military. I guess I need to buy some new clothes! :O

anne said...

Wow a whole year. That is crazy.

I obviously don't know you or the situation per se - but I wouldn't take the entire blame for not liking your previous job. I think there are a lot more factors than those that go into being a lawyer and working as an associate.

Still just me said...

So by helping others, you also helped yourself. What a productive year you have had.

ella said...

I am exactly the same way.

While this is a bit non-sequitor, your post reminded me of this verse that I often refer to - 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness".

Scotty said...

Wow, it seems like I was jsut reading about you leaving!

Your boss sounds like a genuine person, glad you were able to learn lots.

Ys said...

That's great that such a good outcome came from it. I think we're programmed just to cope with everything and not complain; at least I was because my mother did (and still does) so much and never complains.

I hope the next year is just as amazing for you :)

B said...

your thought of only feeling valuable when perfect - hit home with me

nice post

I love your I'm grateful " pony tails and ice cream"

Lib said...

yes, i can say this post resonated with me on many levels. the arena in which i've realized my futile attempts towards perfection have been my marriage, and at times, it hasn't been pretty! if chris "caught" me being imperfect, it resulted in an ugly saga of self-defense, trying to prove that i hadn't, in fact, messed up. this is not only hurtful to him...i'm so busy defending my perfect self that i fail to acknowledge the legitimate ways i've hurt him, but it steals a lot of live and joy from myself too. he really woke me up one day when he said, "It's like you don't believe in forgiveness or something." he was right...i mean, who needs forgiveness when you're perfect? i'm getting a bit better about being okay with my weakness and undeniable imperfection, but it's a daily battle for me.

Seized by Hope said...

Great post Ally.

It is a very cool thing to find yourself in an environment where real words of kindness and love are spoken...the kind that ask you to look at your perfectionism.

I'd like to work for your boss.