I took some time the other day to become more aware of the world around me. I went for a walk and I was struck by nature’s perfection: the sparkle of the snow on the smooth surface of an (almost) untouched path, the azure blue of a sky unmarred by any clouds, and the quiet, calm, and still beauty of the forest surrounding me. (photo credits by me!)
As I marveled over the serenity and the peace that it brought me, nature’s perfection also reminded me of my own imperfection and my own struggles to be good enough.
It’s a daily battle, isn’t it? We strive to be the best at our jobs, the best parent to our children, the best friend to our acquaintances, and the best family to our loved ones. (Please note: by best I do not mean ‘better than others’, by best I mean our personal best – the best us that we can be.) But what is our best? Is it even achievable?
Personally, I know that many times when I have felt that I have done or am doing “my best” someone or something reminds me that I haven’t. Being pointed out your own imperfections by others or by the world itself is often a hard pill to swallow. I am reminded on a daily basis that I will never be “perfect”, and perhaps that keeps me humble, but more often it is a brutal and unforgiving reality check.
Perfection will never be attained by me, or anyone else for that matter, because I believe that we will never live up to our own and each others’ expectations. That’s sounds really discouraging, doesn’t it? And I suppose that it is in a sense, if you consider only that. But my own faith leads me to believe that only God is perfect. We have been created and brought into a world of imperfection – we will strive to do our best and to live our lives as loving people, but we will never completely succeed at being without flaw or blemish. (The Good News is that we have forgiveness for our imperfection!)
So why is it that we often expect perfection from ourselves and from others? I am just as guilty of this as anyone else. I expect others to understand and to behave in certain ways, probably in ways that no one could ever live up to. I also expect it of myself. I know perfection will never be attainable, so why do I keep allowing myself to be disappointed?
I believe that it is because we often set too high of standards and outrageous expectations for our own and others’ behaviour. When we fall short of those standards and cannot fulfill those expectations we feel as if we have failed. Where we have actually failed is in seeing how well we have done – maybe not completely as well as the standards we have set, but how far we have come and what we have accomplished is what is really to be acknowledged and applauded.
Why are we so hard on ourselves and on others? Why are we so quick to blame others for their imperfections and the consequences that derive from them? Once again I am just as guilty of this as anyone else.
A dear friend once told me that she admired me because she said I could see the good in others and because I always try to look for the best in them. This was high praise and I didn’t believe that I was completely deserving of it, but it did make me more aware of the fact that this is the way I should always try to be. Instead of becoming upset and faulting others for disappointing me, I should look to understand them more. I know it won’t be easy, especially when I’m being criticized myself, but it is a goal which I will strive toward in 2015.
I also realize that I need to stop being so hard on myself. I will fail and time and time again I will fall. I may even be knocked down and put in my place by others, but the person who will always be hardest on me is me. I need to give myself permission to make mistakes and to learn from them.
I know that I’ll never be perfect. I believe though, that over time, I’ll learn to be ok with that.