Friday, June 5, 2015

Giving up on perfection


Mr. PNU likes to write about how great I am. Let me explain why I let him do it.

I've bungled a number of situations in the past few weeks, stepped on toes, hurt people's feelings, dropped balls, screwed up royally, barely slid to the plate a few times. When I said early on that I knew dealing with this life change was going to get messy, I had no idea how right I was.

I try to remind myself that this is my first experience with debilitating stroke, and that I have no idea how to do it any better than I am, but I worry frequently that my lack of tact and general dislike of confrontation will have irreparable outcomes. Like my husband, I hope people around me understand that I'm trying to be a good person, even when I fail at delicacy with others' emotions. In the past six and a half weeks, where I may have been a stellar wife, I have absolutely had moments of sheer mediocrity in the role of daughter, daughter-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, mother, stepmother, friend, and acquaintance. Even though my husband won't admit it, I've not been perfect at being a wife either. I wish I were better at life changing events than I am. 

What I am good at is realizing that in stretching myself seven ways—between my children, my step daughter, my husband, and care for myself—I am absolutely dependent on the grace of God and the atonement of Jesus Christ. From the moment I wake up until I fall exhausted into my bed at night I pour every ounce of energy into the roles of wife and mother. I've given myself an hour of daily gym time to maintain my physical health, but otherwise, except when I'm laying here in bed blogging (which you'll notice hasn't been happening much on the SSW end), my waking time is completely expended by my efforts to do all that I can do for the good of others. At the end of every day, my merits don't matter. I look down at myself and see that I've always left something undone, something I should have done. I always feel I've failed somewhere. I always have to pick up some raveled end of the knitting and try working loose ends back into the project.

What I'm realizing is how unexplainably generous God is in giving us the benefit of the doubt. What I'm realizing is how unjustified any of us are in judging the works, or the lack thereof, of others. We simply have no idea what anyone else is up against, or how hard they're working at getting right everything we don't see when we focus on their faults. What I'm realizing is how often I need to keep my own judgements in check, because if I deserve any slack robbing the same from those around me is negating that miracle in my own life. 

A few months ago after thorough study of Greek verbs, I was altogether too pleased with myself that I'd figured out that the KJV translation of Matthew 5:48 was horribly incorrect. Once the tense, voice, and mood of the "be" verb in Greek is taken into account, and once the original meaning of τέλειοι is understood as "fully developed/complete" rather than "perfect," the scripture reads as a result of acting on the preceding prescriptive passages of the Beatitudes: 

"Therefore, you shall be fully developed/complete even as your father in heaven is fully developed."

Note that in translation from the original Koine Greek, being fully developed isn't something that is commanded right now. The "be" verb is in future tense, meaning it will happen at some other, undesignated time. Also, the voice is middle rather than active. Future tense verbs don't have a passive voice, but the middle voice is translated as passive, which means the action of "being fully developed" isn't something that the subject "you" does as it would if the verb were active. The action happens to the subject. Once the steps are taken to live a life following the example set forth by Jesus Christ in the preceding verses, the active participant is brought to full development, but not on their own. Full development can't be achieved by anyone based on merit. That status is a gift. It is received through grace and atonement, after we have tried lived lives of selflessness, kindness, and charity. But not because of those actions.

Even without taking all of that nerdy technical ancient Greek into account, I cannot offer anyone perfection. I can wring myself out every day of my life, living like I am now, giving and giving until I haven't a drop left to offer, and I still won't get there. And if I only treat people with this consideration because I think it will earn me perfection, I've missed the point entirely. I'm not doing all of this because I believe there is a reward in it for me. No one should. Still, I try to perfectly love my husband, my children, my family members, and my friends. I like being good to people, offering help where I can. But I'm not great at it all the time. And some of the time, I too am human, and then I get caught up in living terrible, messy attempts that few would mistake for love, and no one would call perfect. 

And so I've given up on perfection, except for trying. 

If my husband only sees the good in me, he is so much closer to perfection than I think he imagines, and further along the path to full development than almost anyone else I know. He will protest my assertion. He'll tell you his cognitive and physical deficits make him unworthy. As if floppy limbs and a drooping smile could some how disqualify anyone from the same god-given slack I'm hopping to receive as soon as I log off for the night, pray my meager efforts will be enough, and call Thursday an imperfect day.

1 comment:

  1. You always have been amazing in my eyes--and especially now! <3

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