Franciscan priest, Father Richard Rohr said that ‘the demand for the perfect is the greatest enemy of the good.’ He believes that ‘we grow spiritually much more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.’ I am getting old and humble enough to agree with this perspective. Don’t get me wrong there is still much in me that rises up and wants to do things perfectly and try to prevent failure, at least failure as I define it to be. Father Rohr goes on to say, ‘ By denying their pain, avoiding the necessary falling, many have kept themselves from their own spiritual depths-and therefore have been kept from their own spiritual heights.’ OUCH!
So Father, it is ok to fail!? It seems this concept is unheard of in our culture of giving praise where it is not due, awards where they are not earned, passing grades when a failure has occurred and overall a building up of brokenness without solid ground underneath. I am all about encouraging others to be successful or know that they matter but empty praise seems to exacerbate what is missing inside of people. John 12:43 says,’ for they loved human praise more than praise from God.’ I think this search for perfection in everything we do has taken our sight away from the One who made us and has created huge expectations in people to be perfect and in turn to make us feel the same way.
As I started with pen in hand this is not the direction that I initially imagined my writing would go today. Isn’t this often the way it goes and it is a good analogy for how God wants to work through our failures. I had an idea and God spun it in a different direction, for what reason I don’t know and maybe I never will but I just give Him the glory that anything comes out at all. I know that I have missed out on many spiritual depths and heights by trying to write perfectly and then not writing anything. My fears of failure and just as much of success have kept me stuck in the mire of what ifs and should have beens. The ever elusive perfection taunts me with non-production and the gift of writing that God has given me has laid dormant for longer than necessary.
I have had the privilege for the past few weeks of attending a creative writing class at the lifelong learning centre. It is to my delight that I help to bring the average age down and get to glean from such experience. I joined the class specifically to get my creative juices flowing again. Since I launched this blog in the middle of this class you could say the mission was accomplished but it has become so much more than that. It has been an opportunity to be ‘naked’ per se with vulnerability to read the words God gave me to write. As other writers can relate I’m sure, a part of your soul gets imprinted along with the words on the pages and so it feels a little transparent sometimes. I have been richly blessed each week to hear the stories of so many creative people who have lived so much life. And not just the length of life but the breadth and depth of it as well. I feel like I know each one just a little bit as they have shared through reminiscing and laughter, experiences and loss, hurts and healings, love and lessons. Through their gift of writing their hearts have come to life.
They have encouraged me in their joint ‘nakedness’ to keep writing, to keep telling the stories and sharing all that God has given me and carried me through. It will not always be perfect, and I definitely will fall and that is just ok because I know that in my weakness, God is strong. And it is not about me, is it?
What area of life are you demanding perfection in? What pain are you trying to avoid? What do you need to die so that life may spring up in its place? ‘ Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. ‘ John 12:24 I promise it only hurts a little bit but the rewards are great and lasting.