“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” (John Steinbeck in East of Eden) as seen on the Jack’s Winning Words blog today. Jack went on to write – “The Ten Commandments and The Sermon on the Mount seem to set impossible goals for us. When Jesus says, “Be perfect as your Heavenly Father is perfect,” how is that possible? Is Steinbeck suggesting something less? I don’t think so.”
Neither Jack nor Steinbeck are suggesting that you accept as a fact of life that you are imperfect and always will be, but rather that you keep that vision of perfection in mind as a goal and a commitment in your life. Not being perfect at the moment doesn’t mean that we give up the pursuit of perfection (sort of like Mercedes with their cars).
There is a quality concept in manufacturing called “continuous improvement” in which a process of continuously analyzing things that go wrong, cost time or cause waste to see if they can be improved upon. Life is like that, too. We should always strive to learn from our mistakes, to make continuous improvements in our lives and our interactions with others. We may never achieve perfection, but we should never stop striving for it.
There is an old joke that the best way not to disappoint yourself or others is to set low expectations to begin with. So if you think of yourself as a bum, as unworthy or as a bad person, that self-image becomes self-fulfilling most of the time. On the other hand, if you acknowledge that you are not perfect, but keep as your goal to move towards perfection, you can have rewarding thought of the progress that you are making with each tiny step in that journey. You can be good and know that you rare getting better.
So, don’t get down on yourself is you make a mistake or don’t get that promotion at work that you were striving for or get turned down that date that you finally worked up the courage to ask for or perhaps suffered through yet another snub or social rejection. You’re not perfect. Life isn’t perfect. Accept the temporary setback, analyze what you did or didn’t do correctly to achieve that goal and try to learn from it. More important yet, think about how this incident in your life has helped you grow as a person.
Maybe you can now see and realize that some of your goals were not really as important as you once thought they were. Perhaps some of the things (or people) that you were pursuing have turned out to be superficial and things (or people) that you really can do without. The “OMG, I’ll just die if I don’t get it” has turned into “OMG, why did I think that was important?” Maybe it’s the “G” in OMG that is helping you see things more clearly and putting life into better perspective.
Don’t beat yourself up about not being perfect n God’s eyes; rather keep asking in prayer, “Please God, help me to be a better person every day.” God has the patience to wait for you on your journey towards that perfection for which he called upon you to strive. Don’t give up on the journey and God will not give up on you. You don’t have to be perfect, but you must keep trying. I’ll see you along the way.