One morning I needed some time to refresh my spirit. I noticed everything, especially when it came to my children, was setting me off. I was fed up. I had had enough and was ready to throw in the towel on this parenting thing! During my spiritual time, God began to slowly reveal some imperfections inside of me. Things I had not really paid attention to. I began to ask if I was being a perfectionist when it comes to my children. Are my expectations too high?
Then, I began to realize that maybe I was. When my son is doing his homework, if he makes a mistake, he messes up his homework and gets really frustrated. He has no room for errors or mistakes. Lately, also his behavior has been a little less than desirable – fighting about everything and disobeying. Needless to say, I have been frustrated. I didn’t think I was asking for much – just to listen! Then, I examined my reaction when he misbehaves, and I am flying off the handle. No room for error. I was placing a burden on him that was unfair to bear.
Christ asks us to be perfect. But our wise, Heavenly Father knows and accepts our weaknesses as He perfect us. Patiently. Lovingly. (Philokalia: The Bible of Orthodox Spirituality, p 82)
We want perfect marriages. Perfect children. Perfect churches. Perfect leaders. When we don’t find it, we go back to our search. We give up. Throw in the towel. We are all imperfect people trying to navigate this thing called life.
Christ is the only perfect One. He calls us to be perfect but it is an ongoing journey. Filled with daily repentance and growth.
We live in a tough, tough world. Coming off the NBA Finals, we see just how tough this world is. Steph Curry, the NBA MVP, was almost perfect going into the Finals game against the Cleveland Cavaliers. When he didn’t deliver a perfect performance, he was bashed and criticized. Lebron James cried like a baby when he won the Finals in an exciting Game 7. For too long he tried to live in a world that demanded him to be perfect. When the buzzer sounded, the pressure of perfect expectations and perfect demands was released and he cried. We idolize teams that never lose. Those with perfect records. I remember in the movie, “Remember the Titans,” Denzel Washington plays a coach who demands from his high school football team, “We will be perfect in every aspect of the game.” He left no room for error. And they went on to have a perfect season. We cheer. We are inspired.
We then demand perfection in our own lives. Our husbands and wives. Our children. Other moms. We do the same for our churches. Our priests. No room for error. We are on a quest to find the perfect service. If there is a challenge or struggle, we often run.
When we fail, or our children, or anyone around us, then we are frustrated. Flustered. Angry.
Personally, when my children, fail, I get so angry. A wise priest once told me that I get angry because my expectations are higher for them, because they are mine. I know people are watching my children. Watching me. And when you are the wife of a priest, there is more pressure unfortunately. Pressure to be perfect. Expectations of perfection. Sometimes in my own mind. Anger is more explosive when all fails. Because I am not perfect. Neither are my PKs (or “Priest Kids”). And I am beginning to come to terms with the fact that it is OK.
I must accept their weaknesses and challenge them patiently and lovingly to perfection. The same as what Christ does for me.
There is a famous saying that says, “Please be patient with me, God isn’t finished with me yet.” They make it mostly into shirts for kids. But it applies to adults as well.
My church is not perfect. My children are not perfect. I am far from perfect. But we strive on – with daily repentance and holiness. I once asked God how many times can I, a Priest wife, stop making mistakes and saying sorry to others. I received an answer – As long as I breathe. It is our lifelong journey to perfection. To be the saints He has called us to be.
“. . . to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints.” 1 Corinthians 1:2
Let’s Chat: Do you struggle with perfection? How do you overcome the desire to be perfect or your expectations of others?