“Nothing would be done at all, if a man waited till he could do it so well, that no one could find fault with it.” – Cardinal John Henry Newman
One of the concerns faced by many this day is a struggle with a compulsion for everything to be perfect but particularly that person themselves. This manifests itself in perfectionism. By this, I mean the refusal to accept any standard short of perfection. I am all for looking at where you want to be and where you are now and measuring the steps needed to get this done. Were it not for seeking to perfect many aspects of our world, so many of humanity’s advancements would not have accomplished.
There is, however, a point where perfectionism goes overboard and does more harm than good. It is an immeasurable good to see the positive in the less than perfect. We can examine things to infinitum and our fine-tooth comb, will find every inconsistency, fault, failure, and imperfection. Where are then is that nothing is ever good enough. That place where the obsessive takes over the striving to get things right or at least better, that is a place further away from where God wants you to be than some might imagine.
If every note and harmony you play out in life is picture perfect but you have destroyed your spirit and the spirits of those around you to get there, the damage done is incalculable. It is far better to perfect our hearts to God’s ways than worry over every little nuance of tradition, law, commandments and rituals in a mock service to God. Just ask the Pharisees in the Bible. Entirely wrapped up in each of these obsessions, they forgot to allow for compassion, flexibility or even forgiveness for those not quite so obsessed – their fellow humanity.
The thing is that we are all flawed. None of us are perfect. I believe that God made us this way intentionally. It was to teach us acceptance, love, forgiveness and through these things lead us toward the only perfection needed. That of loving God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and bodies and of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Think on how many divisions would be healed if only we would. Family divisions, broken friendships, marriage problems, social divides, all put to rest under the precious love given by the Father that we too might share this with humanity.
If humanity is to find its way forward, we must move past the rigid idealism that causes the inability to compromise with others. Inability to compromise with others will not bring us closer to God. It drives us further apart. There is a passage in the Bible that says this straight out. You can be the best, the brightest, climb every mountain, sail every sea, accomplish every dream. And if you have not love, what do you have? Nothing. Nothing at all.
How much better it is then to put aside intolerance of less than our own ideals of perfection. For myself, I find that when I look through the eyes of Ally or my blessed daughters, I see so much more than I ever would have alone. When I listen to my own heart, I struggle and struggle at getting things right.
When I chide and correct my daughters about some silly little mistake made in whatever endeavor, I find that if only I had take a moment more to see it as they do, things become clearer. From this, I can help them on their level. And.. sometimes, they are right in what they have said for done. More than once when I look at the world through their eyes and their hearts, I have had cause to rethink and even apologize as I have gained new insight.
Other times, I have had to stick to my original positions. I won’t pretend otherwise. The point is that being tolerant enough to set aside artificial divides costs very little and the investment pays huge dividends.
So then might we extrapolate this to the world that is larger than the family? I believe we not only can, but, that we must. We must love our neighbors as ourselves. Jesus came and died for the imperfect of this world that they might be saved. Think on that, please.
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