In a world of so many concerns, it is easy to become overwhelmed and anxious. As a defense mechanism, we may begin to expect or demand perfection of everything and everybody. Some of us turn this need for perfection inward; others seem to focus on the faults of others — usually, it’s both.
Or maybe I’m being too precise. Maybe we don’t expect perfection, maybe we just really struggle, and feel anxious and angry when things aren’t like we believe they should be. Whether this is perfectionism or intolerance, the anxiety that goes with it is hard to deal with.
Keeping our expectations in check is a daily chore. It’s not a bad thing to want things to be different and better. In fact, following Jesus means we want and work for things to be better. It’s right to want dignity and compassion to pervade our world.
And yet we can’t work on these problems from the standpoint of perfectionism. It will be a failed attempt, as history shows us. The life of faith makes peace with imperfection because faith recognizes that among our common traits as humans whom God loves, is imperfection. All of us are the kind of people who could/would potentially string up God on a cross and feel ok about it.
That is such an obvious but difficult statement that it was hard to type. And yet, such obvious things go right past us all the time, and we find ourselves intolerant of people whose point of view is not our own. This is a huge struggle for me too.
And so, I write this blog to all of us. There is still good in the world. The bad things that are here are sadly not new and not to be blamed solely on any particular group. Focusing on only what is wrong and what we don’t like will mean that we miss beauty, goodness, and potential… Our hope is not in simply railing against what is wrong; it is in seeing that goodness is an ever-present reality and putting our energies there.
Paul wrote this to some people long ago:
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Galatians 5:25,26 The Message