Tuesday, March 22, 2011
A few weeks ago, I had to complete a professional profile on myself called a DISC test. Today, we got the results of the test and while some of the things it said about me made me uncomfortable, most of them were true. In many things, I am a perfectionist. I don't like to sign my name to something into which I have not put serious effort. I don't like to take responsibility for something that was someone else's idea, especially when it's something I didn't believe in from the start. I am hard on others and hold them to a high standard, even though I don't always let on about it, but I'm even harder on myself.
The problem with being a perfectionist, as the profile folks see it, is that if you spend too much time trying to make something or someone perfect, time passes by and things don't get done. Frustration sets in and you could wind up with a mess.
There is a scene in the adorable sixties film The Trouble With Angels where Rachel spends hours trying to make a cocktail dress to enter in a sewing contest. The harder she works at it, the more of a disaster the dress becomes. Enter Reverend Mother. After a few words of astonishment that something could turn out so badly, she takes over and spends the next few hours, at the expense of her sleep, to confect a gorgeous concoction of tulle and silk.
The Lord works much like Reverend Mother, without the words of astonishment at how badly we mangle things. If we waited until we were perfect to offer ourselves to Him, we would have nothing to give Him. Like Rosalind Russell in the movie, He says "Show Me what you did, show Me what you have" and He takes our mangled selves and makes of us a more fitting offering to His Father.
There is some advantage to be gained by making a muck of things. When you're ashamed of yourself, you tend to have the kind of humility fitting for being in the Presence of the Lord. Sometimes I think it's why He permits us to get into trouble just as we thing we're gaining in holiness. Lest we get ahead of ourselves, our little transgressions nip us by the shirt collar and pull as backward as if to say "ah ah ah, not so fast!"
To be sure, it's hard work striving for holiness. But it was never meant to be easy. When I make an honest accounting of my sins, my first reaction is to want to recoil and say "Well, I'm not really THAT bad." No, I really am, and I can and must do better, much better.
St. Therese did not want to be a saint by halves. Neither do I.
Posted by TLW at 6:55 PM