I’m the type of person who wants to learn a lesson and get it over with. Or if possible do it right the first time. This week I realized two things. One, life is not about “perfect.” (And what is perfect anyway?) And two, just because I’m confronted with an issue I’ve dealt with in the past doesn’t mean I’m in the same place I was before.
I don’t like making mistakes. Hate it actually. This week at work I made a mistake and had to fess up to it. My stomach roiled throughout the whole process because, “I should have known better! Why didn’t I do it right the first time?!?” In my mind if I could have come out of the womb knowing how to do everything perfectly that would be just dandy. Then I examined that, went a little deeper, and realized life is not about perfect. If I knew how to do everything already there would be no point to being alive. Seriously. If I already knew how to play Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata” what would be the point in taking piano lessons? I think it’s the same thing with being alive. Life is a series of lessons, all with the purpose of turning us into maestros.
According to my spiritual beliefs once I reach the point of perfection I will be one with God. Until then I signed up for life, for this experience, for this human body, which means I can’t be perfect. It means I will make mistakes. Because I’m learning. And learning requires mishaps and misunderstandings. The sooner I accept that the better. So I release my need for perfectionism, knowing I am making progress and that’s what life is all about.
I also know progress means I will be confronted with some of my issues time and again, but I’m still growing.
This week I heard a sermon from Rev. Michael Beckwith about how it’s a fallacy opportunity only knocks once. Instead opportunity will beat your door down until you answer it. I love that. I think life lessons are the same way. They knock again and again until we invite them in and let them live with us. Sometimes all we can handle is a short visit, but they’ll be back. And so because my lessons come a knockin’ I may think I’m not making progress. But that’s not true.
Another metaphor I love is the image of spiraling up a mountain. Oftentimes I feel like I already surpassed an issue, I already worked it out and then bam, I’m facing it again. A friend of mine said she feels the same way but what she realized is she isn’t in the same place she was before. It only feels that way, but instead she has spiraled up. She’s in the same spot as before but she’s higher up the mountain. And pretty soon she’ll reach the peak. So yes, I’m in the same place but not exactly. I’m spiraling up, up, up.
I guess I want to give myself a break and I want others to do the same. I want us to realize life isn’t about perfection or “doing it right the first time.” That’s not the contract we signed. Instead, life is about learning, screwing up, getting messy because we’re like babies learning to walk. It takes a few stumbles before we find our stride. And I also want us to know we are each spiraling up a mountain, working through our issues and life lessons but we are indeed progressing and growing. And pretty soon we’ll reach the peak.
I dream of a world where we give ourselves a break, where we treat ourselves with unconditional love. Where we know not only is it ok to make mistakes but it’s expected. Where we know life is about fumbling until we find our balance. Where we realize we are constantly evolving even when it feels otherwise. Where we realize we are magnificent and loved just as we are because we are divine children of God.
Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.