If We’re not Striving for Perfect

What’s the alternative?

Has anything is this world been accomplished by pursuing the mediocre? Or the minimum?  Jesus himself set the bar pretty high: Be perfect.

I understand the calls away from such “impossible” standards, though.  We could get terrifically discouraged by never meeting a goal we were seriously striving for. So where’s the middle ground?

One of my measures I use for “appropriate engagement” (if perfectionism is a bad word) is Paul’s admonition “Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

I thought that it was brilliant when I first came up with it.  After all, I’m human, and weak and all that, so I’m not shooting too high. And I’m not comparing myself with someone else.

But as I tried actively to apply it I still became discouraged, because, well, I really do have moments of amazing. And they are far less than consistent.

How can I justify that?  How can I explain the difference between that woman who can corral and motivate a dozen children between the ages of 3 and 7, and the woman who has to remind herself to smile and speak kindly to those same delightful children when she’s completely uninterested?

How can I — when I’m not even working on my novel— explain the difference between effortless maintenance of my home and the soul-swallowing discouragement of a kitchen I can’t keep clean.

I don’t quite beat myself up over it, but I have wondered a long time.

When I guessed there might be a hormonal connection I got really discouraged, because here was something completely beyond my control.  It made me feel incredibly weak (or insulted) to imagine I only had a particular ability because of largely random timing. That I couldn’t expect it to last.

It felt so unfair and unnatural.

Then I thought of your typical cold-blooded lizard.

I swear this is not a reflection on my self-image. 😉

Here is a creature *completely* dependent on elements outside its control.

A lizard on a sunny day can seem almost magically fast, energized, and even clever.  That same critter in winter (or in the cool of night) seems like a different animal altogether.

The encouraging thing, if one chooses to see it this way, is that the lizards don’t even try to do the same things (or not to the same level) when it’s not warm enough to engage their full powers.

In addition they have coping/survival skills in place for those anticipated times when they will be vulnerable. They make different choices and behave differently in order to maximize their available resources.

So that’s been my thinking lately– how best to maintain an even keel when the energy is lacking in a particular area. How to have a meaningful double standard for those things I don’t (consistently) soar in.

I am not interested in “curing” perfectionism.  I still strive for it, because I believe in that I am being obedient to Christ. But I maintain hope, because of God’s promise that

He knows what we are made of,
remembering that we are dust.

And I know that if I wasn’t “striving,” I would not have discovered the many delights God was ready to bless me in.

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