“Our delusions about perfection are obstacles to joy,” writes Wendy Beckett (a woman with prayer at the center of her life, but also an art historian with her own BBC series on art) in her simple book “On Prayer.” I have read a lot of books on prayer, and there are not that many that I really feel have spoken to me over the years. So often they are just a distraction from getting down to the real business of silence, listening, being truly open, all of me, to the divine light, warmth, and challenges, while standing in who I really am. I loved what she has to say about perfection:
“To be perfect is to be complete….We are all human in different ways. And for us, perfection – to me a rather off-putting noun – can mean only becoming completely what we were meant to be. Each of us is called to an individual fulfillment, that only God understands. Because we are all different, “perfection,” which I would prefer to call ‘holiness,’ will be different for each of us. It will take into account our genetic weaknesses. It will allow for the areas in which we will never be objectively admirable, though we may have subjectively striven to the full extent….”
I would add that our particular perfection, or holiness for each of us, will also take into account our particular psychological issues, the gifts and problems put there by our upbringing, the constraints of culture and social situations. We need to be merciful with ourselves as we think about just what is perfect for me, for you.