My husband says I have high standards. My spiritual director says I must have been made for heaven when I relay to her my frustration with people, programs and things. I think both of these statements about myself are kind ways to let me know that I have a hard time accepting things the way they are.
I am hardly a perfectionist; you should see my messy house. But in my relationships and on certain aspects of my personality, I have these tendencies. For years, I saw these things as positive aspects of my personality, but as of late, I have started seeing the negative in how these standards affect my relationships and my work.
Even the Apostle Paul reflected on his own lack of perfect maturity in his letter to the Philippians. “It is not that I have already taken hold of it or have already attained perfect maturity, but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it” (Philippians 3:12).
Attaching my self-imposed and perceived standards and expectations often lead me to an inability for action. I hang onto resentments about people, even friends, who may have acted less than perfect, with me forgetting that I am much less than perfect. I have “started” writing a book but haven’t really delved into it, because I am waiting for that last bit of inspiration or information to make it perfect in my head before I begin. I can’t start that program at church, because we don’t have all of our people in perfect alignment. I can’t host that dinner party, because I don’t have the proper dining room. I can’t run that 5K, because I haven’t adequately trained. I can’t be an evangelizer, because I don’t have all the answers. I can’t keep that regular prayer routine until my life settles down. I can’t start that new venture because … well, because I am afraid to fail.
Nike Corp has a a slogan. “Just do it!” It may refer to an athletic workout, but it can pertain to all aspects of my life.
We are all striving for heaven, and indeed Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:48: “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.” But we are not perfect and our heavenly Father knows that. The first step in striving for perfection is to see in ourselves our imperfection and to lovingly accept it like our heavenly Father accepts us.
As Mother Teresa says, “God does not require that we be successful, only that we be faithful.”
Is their something in your heart that you feel called to do but are waiting for the perfect moment? The “perfect” moment will never arrive. Discern what is the next good thing you can do, and “Just do it!”