the demand for the perfect
Just a little bonus thought as we think thoughts after spiritual disciplines…
The disciplines can be the ultimate performance trap, and become a quagmire of frustration and dashed perfectionistic expectations.
These thoughts from Richard Rohr’s own meditations (actually adapted from his book Falling Upward) hit a much needed note that will hopefully touch the tired spot in each of us…
We grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. That might just be the central message of how spiritual growth happens; yet nothing in us wants to believe it, and those who deem themselves “morally successful” are often the last to learn it.
If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own. What a clever place for God to hide holiness, so that only the humble and earnest will find it! A “perfect” person ends up being one who can consciously forgive and include imperfection (like God does), rather than one who thinks he or she is totally above and beyond any imperfection.
It becomes sort of obvious once you say it out loud. In fact, I would say that the demand for the perfect is often the greatest enemy of the good. Perfection is a mathematical or divine concept; goodness is a beautiful human concept. We see this illusionary perfectionism in ideologues and zealots on both the left and the right of church and state. They refuse to get their hands dirty, think compromise or subtlety are dirty words, and end up creating much more “dirt” for the rest of us, while they remain totally “clean” and quite comfortable in their cleanliness.