Thursday, February 25, 2010
One step forward, two steps back
No matter how many times I learn lessons about myself, my mistakes, and what I need to work on, I always seem to forget them completely in such a short time. For example, I have learned and relearned the lesson that Christ loves me and His love makes me good enough, insofar as I continue to repent and turn to Him in trust and humility. Still, I always end up returning to this mistaken idea that I have to fix everything for everyone and that I must/should be perfect. I am so tired of trying to get everything right. First of all, I'm bad at it. Second, it's exhausting. In some way, it's as if I'm trying to be God. Not in the good way, like becoming more Christlike, but in the way that I refuse to accept human frailty in myself. I frequently attempt to reject my fallen human nature. I don't like that it's a part of me.
I once watch an episode of Fr. Brown (a Chesterton character who solves mysteries) and in it there was a man who committed suicide. He was a very religious man, but he had made a religion out of happiness. If you were good, in his belief, then you were always happy, you always had it together. The only sin you need ever avoid is drinking any form of alcohol. Fr. Brown remarks something to the effect of, "Satan himself could not have devised a more miserable punishment". Eternal happiness, when it is forced is not a good thing. God does not intend for us to live a false existence, constantly pretending that our lives and our very selves are without difficulty or imperfections. When one makes a religion out of happiness, one never allows for the possibilities of grief, anxiety, loneliness, frustration, anger, or any other natural response to difficult situations. Consequently, one expects everyone else to press on and pretend that everything is okay, when really they are not. Of course one doesn't view it in those terms. Rather, one is more likely to view is as "fixing" things. People shouldn't have conflict, frustrations, etc. This makes negative emotion into some kind of sin.
Thankfully, I have not gone so far as to do all that, but I do feel that to some extent I am guilty of this, especially when dealing with myself. I do not allow myself to make mistakes. This becomes especially problematic when I am faced with the reality that I mess up quite frequently. I am become overly concerned with getting it right for the first time and carry the guilt of my unsuccess around with me for years. As soon as I realize that I have miss-stepped I am overwhelmed by a sense of regret and guilt that sometimes doesn't go away, even after the issue is resolved. Even worse, sometimes I may not have actually even miss-stepped, but I still feel horribly guilty. I feel guilty when someone misunderstands what I said, I feel guilty when someone misunderstands my motive, I feel guilty when someone expects something of me that I can't give, I feel guilty if my friends have a conflict that I cannot help them resolve, I feel guilty if my efforts to help them go awry, and I even feel guilty for the negative opinions that some people hold of me.
This is NOT okay.
So, I'm going to try to let go of it. I don't really have a plan, because my plans usually fall through (which makes me feel even more guilty), but I'm basically going to try to find ways to accept my faults. Not to embrace them and stop working on them, but accepting them as something that I will be likely struggling with for the rest of my life. I am going to work on believing that it's okay for me to mess up, even if my mistakes and humanness cause people to be annoyed with or even dislike me. Obviously I should try avoid offending others, but once I've done the best I can, I am going to try my best to accept whatever comes.
I am going to try to accept that in spite of these faults and perhaps even with them, I am in my own way, lovable. I am going to try to accept that even though I will never by worthy by my own merit, Christ loves me. I am going to try to stop worrying so much about what people will think of me. I am going to try to do all of this without disrupting the lives of others too significantly.
at 12:58 AM