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May 7, 2007

Perfection

Via Fr. Stephanos

You Are 71% Perfectionist

You are a true perfectionist. You are both demanding of yourself and others.
While it's great to have goals and standards, they
don't need to be sky high!


As I grow over the years from a teen to a young adult, I gradually realized that I am a perfectionist, in almost every part of my daily life as well as being a Catholic. My being a perfectionist has become more obvious as I joined the working world.

The best example of me, is that I don't mind staying in the office a little longer after office hours, even though I am not entitled to overtime claim. There were times when I even went back to the office on Saturdays just to make sure that the report I've just finished the day before was error-free. Most of the times I prefer to do some of the clerical work (sending faxes, typing letters to clients, photocopying documents, printing reports etc. which are supposed to be the job of clerical staffs) myself for fear of any mistakes or imperfections.

And so it is with my normal daily lives. Take for instance, the toilet paper. For me, I will always make sure that toilet papers are hanged over the front and not facing the wall. Even when I saw that it was hanged the 'wrong' way, I would take it out and hang it the other way instead. Sometimes, my mom would help me fold my clothes especially during the time I was too busy with work and Youth, and somehow I ended up refolding them because I wasn't satisfied with my mom's way of folding the clothes.

In terms of the practice of my faith, I am very particular at how simple prayers (e.g. Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be) are said. I know of A LOT of local faithful who said the prayers SO fast that they can finish one Our Father with one single breath. Therefore, sometimes I prefer to pray alone so that I could concentrate on each word that I've said.

"I hate myself for being such a perfectionist, maybe that's why God punishes me by sending me lots of problems." A friend told me one day. Well, how could this ever be possible? God will not punish someone who is trying to be perfect. Why would He, when He actually delights in those who tried? St. Matthew has the proof: "You must be perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect." (Matt. 5:48)

Being perfect is the duty of every Christian. However, perfection should not be to the extreme when other people who work with us face the danger of being hurt because they cannot meet our high expectations. We as Christians should look up to God as our standards. We don't need sky-high goals or standards; all we need is to include God in whatever we are doing.

We are supposed to involve God in our everyday living. Sadly, most people see it the other way round - God is only for the Church and to be kept out-of-sight in my life when there is nothing to do with religion. Probably, that is why our strive for perfection is always seem to be wrong. "In fact it is a fault," said John Clark.

The word PERFECTION spells P-a-r-a-l-y-s-i-s. - Sir Winston Leonard Churchill
I strongly believe that Sir Winston Churchill is right UNLESS we depend on our own human strength. All of us are weak without God and therefore, we need God's grace as we travel down the road of our lives, and how much more do we need Him when it comes to perfection.

I am a perfectionist myself, and so many times I collapsed because I wasn’t satisfied with my work, my ability and my knowledge; at these times self-pity took over me… fear crept in, I was drowned by my own thoughts of how good-for-nothing I have been, and consequently, I was overcome by depression. Besides hurting myself mentally and physically, I also hurt my parents and my closest friends as I lavished my anger and resentment on them. Since being perfect is so difficult and in the process of it we might also put others down, then why did Jesus call us to be perfect in the first place?

I’ve been giving this question a thought for the past few weeks. If perfection is a duty, then how can we practice perfection and at the same time not hurting our loved ones, fellow workers and other brothers in sisters in Christ who work together with us?

  1. Do it out of love. What drive(s) you to working so hard? Money? Self-gratification? Or to bring Him glory? We should put down our love for money, fame and our pride, and put on God’s love. Our priority should be love – that people may have a better life; that the environment is protected despite the on-going development; that the sick may be cured and sufferings lessened; that our family can enjoy a more comfortable life – if love is the driving force of our lives, at the end of everyday we will feel satisfied because our every effort is pleasing in His eyes.

  2. God’s grace. Without God, nothing is possible. We should never forget that our jobs are given to us by Him. That is why it is important to pray first before we start our chores and anything we are going to do, to ask for His presence, His grace and His assistance as we carry them out.

  3. Give your best. We know that we are all imperfect people, and so no matter how much time or effort we might have spent on a project or on something, it might not turn out to be as perfect as we wanted it to be. Therefore the best thing is to give our very best to do what is possible for us and then leave the impossible to God. There is also no need to put a high expectation on the people who work with/under us. Why not put our expectations in God? He is perfect and only He can perfect our imperfect work, and only He and He alone can meet our expectations.

  4. Let go, let God. After we’ve given our best and when there is nothing else we can do anymore, it is time to let go – let go of the worries we’ve been having and put everything in God’s mighty hands. We just have to sit back and see what this wonderful yet humorous God of ours can do.

  5. Thanksgiving. No matter what the outcome would be, whether it is up to our expectation or not, we owe our thanks and praises to the Lord. No one knows or understands the purpose He has for us or how He would want to manifest Himself in what we do, so we should be ever thankful even if the outcome disappoints us – to thank Him for the opportunity given, lesson learned, experience gained and His love we encountered.
Yes, it’s easier said than done. Life in itself is never easy, worse still when we are called by Christ to live a life of faith. May we give our best to be perfectly perfect as we put God as our example of perfection. Father, may You walk with us, guide and bless us as we are on our way to be as perfect as You. Amen.


References:
Perfectionist-Workaholic-Crisis Seeker
The Gospel Truth - Christian Perfection
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