“Can you let yourself be perfectly human?” Don asked during our monthly spiritual direction meeting.
I explained to him how frustrated I get with myself because I often fall short of being a “good” person. “I’m a One on the Enneagram—a Reformer. I’m always pushing myself to do better, be better, give better. Isn’t that how we grow?”
Don lifted his eyebrows. “So, you think God expects you to be perfect?”
“Well, aren’t we supposed to try?”
“God doesn’t expect us to be perfect,” Don said. “Instead, God cherishes our ‘perfectly human’ essence. He created us with a human and a divine nature. The human part of us isn’t perfect. We have flaws. Our imperfections are a natural part of human nature. However, we can still be complete and whole by embracing our imperfections and accepting ourselves as a unique individual, flaws and all.
“Embracing our ‘wholeness’ doesn’t imply surrendering our pursuit of growth. It signifies acknowledging the necessity of God’s grace in nurturing the human aspect of our being towards its divine potential. This is an ongoing journey, a partnership where we acknowledge life as a collective endeavor between God and ourselves. Together, we are co-creators on this path of life. Our aim is to harmonize our human and divine essence in concert with God.”
Don took a sip of coffee. “Striving for perfection breeds unattainable standards, self-criticism, and a constant feeling of inadequacy, which alienates us from God. It can be exhausting and detrimental to our mental and emotional well-being. Perfectionism is a sin because it pushes God out of the way as we seek to rely only on our false human egos to defend who we think we are or think we should be.
“Being perfectly human—being whole but not perfect—allows for a more balanced and healthier approach to our self-image and personal growth. It invites us try and do the best we can at whatever we do, but acknowledges that our imperfections are part of what makes us human. Our flaws can contribute to our growth as we lean into the Creator and do the inner work necessary to continue becoming the loving person we’re created to be.”
Don put his hand on his Bible. “The Psalmist’s words echo the essence of being perfectly human: ‘Thank you Lord for the wonder of my being’ (Psalm 38). And ‘The Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need’ (Psalm 23).These words highlight our dual nature, a blend of light and dark, human and divine. Saying that we are ‘spiritually complete’ affirms that at our core, we possess an innate sense of wholeness, contentment, and fulfillment. This perspective suggests there exists a fundamental essence within each of us that is already whole and complete. It implies that we don’t need to constantly seek external validation or material possessions to feel fulfilled.”
Don leaned back in his chair. “Being perfectly human lets us recognize our inherent worth in the eyes of God, even with our shortcomings. It emphasizes the importance of grace, forgiveness, and the journey towards spiritual maturity.”
I pondered his words. “I’d never thought of it that way.” Don’s simple question birthed a new perspective: allowing ourselves to be perfectly human instead of striving to be a perfect human. “How do we practice that?” I asked.
Don’s hand rested on his heart as he shared the following wisdom:
“Aim your spiritual practices and self-discovery at recognizing and aligning with your inherent completeness. Realize you already possess the qualities and resources you need to live a meaningful and purposeful life. This understanding can lead to a sense of inner peace, contentment, and a deeper connection with yourself and the world around you. It’s also about accepting our own and others’ imperfections.
“As we allow ourselves to accept our shortcomings, we open our hearts to accept others’ flaws. We cultivate empathy, understanding, and a healthy perspective on human nature.”
Don offered these steps to help in the process of letting ourselves be perfectly human:
Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding you extend to a friend. Acknowledge being imperfect is part of being human. Cultivate a heart of compassion towards yourself and others. Recognize that we are all on a journey, and imperfections are a natural part of life.
Understand showing vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness. It allows for deeper connections and a more authentic way of relating to others. It invites us to let down our guard.
Step into others’ shoes. Recognize that everyone has their own struggles, fears, and insecurities. Empathy helps build a sense of shared humanity.
Perfection is an unattainable goal. Adjust your expectations for yourself and others. Focus on progress and growth instead. Progress, not perfection, is the goal!
Celebrate Small Wins
Acknowledge and celebrate achievements, no matter how small. This helps reinforce positive behaviors and builds confidence.
Stay present in the moment and be aware of your thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness can help you respond to imperfections with greater understanding and patience.
Learn from Mistakes
Life is our teacher. Instead of dwelling on mistakes, view them as opportunities for growth and learning. Analyze what went wrong and how you can do better next time. Ask yourself how God is inviting you to grow.
Comparing yourself or others to an idealized standard can lead to feelings of inadequacy. Focus on your own unique journey and appreciate the individuality of others.
Encourage open and honest communication with yourself and others. This creates a safe space for sharing imperfections and seeking support.
Recognize and appreciate the positive aspects of yourself and others. Gratitude can shift your focus from imperfections to strengths.
Let Go of Control
Surrender the need for control and trust in the greater plan that God has for each of us. Let life unfold. Don’t push the river. Let the river flow.
Forgive Yourself and Others
Let go of grudges and resentment. Forgiveness lets you move forward with a lighter heart. Ask for forgiveness for any harm you may have caused and be willing to forgive yourself and others. Forgiveness is a powerful tool for releasing burdens and finding peace.
Share your struggles with trusted friends, family, or professionals. They can offer guidance, encouragement, and a different perspective. Venting our feelings in a healthy way can release the negative energy that blocks us from being fully loving.
Let go of harsh judgments and replace them with understanding. Remember that spiritual growth is a process, and everyone is at a different stage.
Connect with Your Higher Power
Spend time seeking guidance and strength from God. Trust there is divine wisdom in our imperfections. If we listen to how God invites us to grow, we continue to unite our human and divine natures.
Practice Self-Reflection and Self-Acceptance
Engage in introspective practices to understand yourself better. Accept the totality of who you are, including your imperfections.
Create a Sacred Space for Contemplation
Dedicate daily time and space in your life for quiet reflection and communion with your soul. This can provide clarity and peace. Quiet time solves everything because God speaks to us in the silence of our hearts.
Remember, embracing our own and others’ imperfections is a journey, not a destination. It requires ongoing effort and self-compassion. By embracing our imperfections, we create a more compassionate and authentic connection with ourselves and others.
Let go of striving to be perfect. It’s unattainable. Instead, lean into being perfectly human. It’s how God intended us to be.
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