It is divine to love those who hate.
It is diabolical to hate and insult those who love.
It is human to love those who love, to hate those who hate.
But – “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:48).
- Alexander Elchaninov in The Diary of a Russian Priest
Perfectionism is one of our culture’s obsessions, a passion that distorts everything, blinding us to who we ourselves, our neighbor, and God truly are. Perfectionism wears a number of disguises. Believing that if we prayed more, loved better, worked harder, did more we would be “better ” people is perfectionism. Perfectionism lives behind the fear of failure that causes us to procrastinate or to be unable to follow through. Perfectionism can foster moralism and legalism. It encourages us to keep score, measuring life, and continually asking, “Am I enough?”
We are not called to perfectionism but instead, to be perfect, not in a moral sense but in an ontological sense. It is more about becoming than it is about achieving, about awakening not acquiring. It is a call to being rather than a call to behavior.
To be perfect asks us to be complete, whole, fully developed human beings even as our Father in heaven is perfect God, complete, whole, fully developed. It is a quality of the inner life whereas perfectionism is controlled by the exterior world and life.
To be perfect is to fulfill one’s humanity by becoming God through grace, that is to say by living to the full. We become perfect through God’s grace not by our own perfectionism. So I wonder, how has perfectionism kept you from becoming perfect?
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