Striving for perfection is not the path towards peace
In yesterday’s post I said this:
The pursuit of perfection is never restful. Perfectionism is defined by striving. And if your spirituality is leading to endless striving, it isn’t healthy. Any religion or spirituality, applied healthily, will always feel restful.
Striving for perfection is not the path towards peace and living life fully alive. If the essence of our spiritual life is the pursuit of moral perfection, we are in very unhealthy terrain.
Many people have been sold a god who requires ever more of us, refusing to accept us unless we are perfect. I don’t believe in this god.
As I also said yesterday: If God is love, nothing we do or don’t do can change how loved and accepted we are.
That said, I don’t think God is ambivalent about what we do with our lives. God cares about how we treat others and how we treat ourselves.
We are loved and accepted as we are, but we are also loved enough to not be left that way. Those of us who have friends or family who struggle with addiction know exactly what I mean here. We love them with their addiction, but we also love them enough to do everything we can to help them find freedom.
This is how I think God is. Nothing we do or don’t do can change God’s unconditional love and acceptance. But like any loving parent, God will always encourage us towards decisions and choices that lead to health, peace, and well-being.
Too often, instead of bringing peace, healing, freedom, and hope, religion has merely added moral burdens to people’s already challenging lives.
Instead of helping people find freedom from alcoholism, the church has too often merely taught that drinking alcohol is sinful.
Instead of helping people find freedom from struggles with anger and lust, the church has too often simply told people they are miserable sinners.
Instead of helping people find hope in their despair, the church has too often told people that their shitty circumstances are because of their ugly, sinful life.
Healthy spirituality is not about getting people to live within a tight moral framework, filled with rules and regulations. It is about helping people find life in all its fullness. It’s about helping people become whole. It’s about healing, peace, and freedom. And yes, sometimes helping people on the path to wholeness requires challenging them, but the goal is always about life transformation rather than adherence to an arbitrary moral code.