Perfectionists need community, too

I started feeling queasy on Sunday afternoon, and by my kids’ bedtime that night, I had already tucked myself in—with full-blown fever and chills. 

Sunday night is prep-for-Monday time. What about my checklist for the week?! Do the kids have clean laundry? Is there food with which to pack lunches? Have papers been signed? 

Not that I could have done a single thing about it. 

My husband Dan is always hands-on, a partner in the truest sense, and he really swooped in to save the day this time. The next morning, as I continued drifting in and out, he got both of our girls up, fed, and dressed (in clean clothes). He brushed their hair (at least I think he did), loaded them into the car, and made the morning loop, dropping off our elementary schooler and our preschooler (on time). And then he grocery shopped. My hero.

He fixed me toast, made me take sips of water, and told me to sleep.

And sleep I did—for most of the next two days.  

Dan must have put the word out to a handful of friends from church, because every so often I woke to the vibration of my phone and someone checking on me: Can I do anything? Bring you some food? Pick up the girls from school? 

Nothing reminds me of how not in control I am, how miserably human I am, like getting sick.

And if you’re anything like me, you’re not a big fan of that reminder.

For those 48 hours, my inability to get out of bed without feeling dizzy forced me to let everything go. I had to trust others to keep the ship running, and by the end of the ordeal I just sat weeping—into the cup of hot coffee I was finally able to stomach—over how much I had needed help. 

I hate needing help. I hate admitting I need help. 

What in the world would have happened if Dan hadn’t had the freedom to stay home from work for a couple of days? What if I had been on my own, like so many people are? What if I’d lived too far from loved ones who could lend a hand? 

We perfectionists might loathe the thought of anyone seeing us at our worst (sweaty and pale, with dirty hair and yesterday’s mascara running down my face, in this particular instance). We also don’t tend to jump at the opportunity to confess we’re overwhelmed. We’ve got this under control!

And that, right there, is why perfectionists need community—and we need it bad. 

The Greek word for community found in the Bible is koinonia, and it carries themes of intimacy and communion—something shared. 

When I hear words like intimacy, I think vulnerability. And then I think, Yikes. Letting myself be known, flaws and all, to someone else, doesn’t sound pleasant. It sounds painful.  

But what if I’d chosen to hide behind my pride and never let the people in my little place of koinonia know how much I struggle with self-sufficiency and independence? What if they didn’t realize I’m more likely to let myself suffer in silence than send out an SOS? Would they have known me well enough to say, “Rebekah doesn’t like asking for help, but she’s down for the count right now, so we’re just going to offer help whether she likes it or not”? 

Ann Voskamp writes, “To let yourself be loved means breaking down your walls of self-sufficiency and letting yourself need and opening your hands to receive. Letting yourself receive love means trusting you will be loved in your vulnerable need; it means believing you are worthy of being loved.”

It’s good to be reminded how much I need people, even if it takes a nasty virus to get there.

I’m not invincible, and that’s perfect, actually. Because needing help, needing each other? It’s not a sign of weakness. It’s an indicator of the way God intentionally created us: worthy of being loved.

—Rebekah

This post originally appeared as part of an essay in our monthly newsletter. For more content like this delivered to your inbox once a month, sign up here!

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