Sorry, We’re Not Perfect

Seven Things Mindful People Do

  1. Practice being curious
  2. Forgive themselves
  3. Hold their emotions lightly
  4. Practice compassion
  5. Make peace with imperfection
  6. Embrace vulnerability
  7. Understand all things come and go

A man (not me) describing his wife as a “perfectionist” quipped, “Her love language is criticism.”

There exists a personality type that feels deeply that things should be perfect. This personality type loves lists of rules. Not content with merely striving for perfection, these people need rules so that they know how they stand at all times.

Held within limits, that’s just the way they are. When it gets out of balance, these lists of rules become scorecards to compare themselves to see who’s winning. They become rigid and not particularly likable. Taken further along the spectrum, this rigidity leads to mental and physical health problems.

Many people I know say, “There is a name for those people–Christians.”

For example, a pastor I had told me that he was on a team where they all took the Myers Briggs Types Indicator with the idea of knowing personality types would help them work together. He said that the entire team, every one, had a “J” at the end of their type. The description of a “J” is one of these rule followers–although the Myers Briggs falls short on having a continuum of healthy to unhealthy types.

But when I told him I was a “P”, he blurted out being astonished, “How can you call yourself a Christian?”

Well, sorry, but I made peace with not being perfect a long time ago.

The Christian Bible has a word for people of this type–Pharisee. And the Pharisees of Jesus’ time were almost all (as reported by John anyway) the unhealthy type. And Jesus was always poking at their belief.

Referring to body and soul, “You are like a cup that is washed on the outside, but inside you are dirty.”

All of us who harbor these perfectionist qualities can stay on the healthy side by recognizing it and then releasing it. Perhaps with a deep breath.

Paul, the guy who famously converted from Pharisee to Jesus-follower, wrote eloquently in both his letter to the Galatians and the letter to the Christians in Rome about growing out of that life bound up by rules and living free in the spirit.

Recognize God’s grace that leads us to stop the treadmill of trying to be perfect and judging others about their perfection, and just live in the spirit. If you are a “J”, learn to be healthy by releasing the drive to perfection.

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