Or are we being fake jerks who demand that others rise to standards that we ourselves can’t achieve?
You know it’s the latter.
I say this from experience because twenty years ago, I was a real know-it-all. I would have told you that I have a discerning spirit, and my goal was to help myself and others be the best we can all be. What two decades of life experience have taught me is that it’s not my business to pass judgement or to demand that other people rise to my own self-imposed standards. True Christian love is about accepting one another, having the grace to let others be, and respectfully distancing yourself from relationships where you and the other person simply have too many differences to play well together. But nobody taught me that, because this lesson can only come from having life kick you around for a while. It comes from disappointment, from being stabbed in the back, from circumstances falling apart, from the unexpected happening, from the doctor saying “sorry, you’ll just have to learn how to live with it,” from plans falling apart, from too many hospital and nursing home visits, from standing over graves yawning over the abyss of one more thing that can’t be changed, and you just have to learn to live with it.
It comes from the life experience that sends us into mid-life crises because when we make our grand plans at graduation, we don’t take “real life” into account. We don’t plan for failure, for the unexpected, for disappointment, for illness and death. It takes until middle age for idealism to give way to reality. Because when you finally see what you really have, then that’s when you can honestly access what matters in life, and make more practical, realistic plans in alignment with who you’ve truly grown up to be.
This theme really struck me while writing several scenes in Domino where the 25 year old protagonist is talking to a 40-something detective. Their interactions struck me because in many ways, I felt I was talking to my younger self, and trying to convey an important message to carry forward. Not just to warn that bad things can happen, but rather to encourage her to not be discouraged and take heart in that new plans form from the chaos of our wrecked expectations. Things might not turn out how you want, but it’s a big world and a bigger reality. What goes sideways today may reveal an opportunity you didn’t have before.
My point is that we live in a world obsessed with perfection, but it can’t be attained. So do your best and let it go. If you want perfection, then you need Artificial Intelligence - and I guarantee that you don't want to hand the reigns over to that! We all saw Terminator. Machines smarter than us make for great fiction, and frightening reality.
It’s true that we can all stand to improve, but your job is to get in prayer and use discernment to figure out what you need to work on in the Spirit. Don’t take things personally. Do look for patterns where your pains and problems seem to emerge from. Read scripture. Meditate on it. Pray over it. See where you’re being led and devote yourself to improve in that area. When it’s time to move on to another area, the Lord will let you know. Just be sure you don’t get bogged down in the noise of all the people around you.
P.S. – I think the whole concept of a “bucket list” is negative, and contributes in mentally unhealthy ways to this “perfectionist” lifestyle. Living with a focus on dying is doing it backwards. Shouldn’t you experience life in fullness while you have it, and enjoy your blessings without fearing the reaper?
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.