Monday, October 24, 2011

Seeking Perfection

Your body is away from me
But there is a window open
from my heart to yours.
From this window, like the moon
I keep sending news secretly.
Rumi ♥

I’ve been trying to focus on L-O-V-E these past few weeks.
God’s love for us, the love we have for each other,
and all the emotions, feelings, and actions that should naturally flow out of that love -
kindness, compassion, empathy, grace, mercy, and forgiveness.

I’ve been trying to focus on these feelings and actions to stem the tide of opposing feelings and actions that have welled up from inside of me, and have been poured out over me, of late  -
anger, judgment, misperception, pride, carelessness, and shame.

Two weeks ago, a friendship that I valued deeply blew apart right in front of my eyes and I still can’t wrap my head around how or why it happened.
In sharing this experience with others who saw me in pain and offered their support, I’ve been reminded that this is not an uncommon occurrence.
For many of us, the paths we’ve traveled through life are littered with the remains of broken relationships.
Often both participants are left standing with befuddled looks on their faces, saying:
“I can’t believe you did this to ME – can’t you see how wrong YOU are?”
When the reality is neither party is right, and neither is wrong. The truth often lies somewhere down the middle. But fear, anger, and our wounded pride prevent us from recognizing that.
So instead we toss out labels to explain away the behavior of the other -  She’s crazy, he’s dysfunctional, she’s overly emotional, he’s neurotic, she’s irrational – and we paint ourselves as the normal, well-adjusted, and mature one who has the ability to see both sides with clarity and grace. 
Sometimes, this is true.
There are some crazy, dysfunctional, neurotic people out there and as much as we may mourn the loss of a relationship we once had with them, we cannot fault ourselves for not having the ability to make it work. But I believe in most cases, the dysfunction that we think we see is more functional than we care to is a function of being human.

Some of us have had the misfortune of being placed in the middle of arguments between friends, spouses, and partners in which both sides have widely different interpretations of what the issues are, why the relationship is suffering, and who is to blame for its downfall.
As objective observers we’re often left shaking our heads because from our perspective neither interpretation rings true.

I hate that this happens.
I hate that this has happened to me, and to my dear friend.

It is not in my nature to sit peacefully with brokenness.
Those with astrological leanings may say it’s the Pisces in me that leads me to idealize relationships and to exist in a dream world where all must live in harmony.
Some may say it’s my Myers-Briggs INFJ personality type that leads me to feel connections and disconnections to others very deeply, and which compels me to want to bring order to chaos when things get messy around the edges.
Others may say I’m being true to my Enneagram types 4 & 9 combo, because I feel extremely unsettled when misunderstandings are left hanging in the air, and I feel driven to play the role of peacemaker whenever conflicts arise.

But I say it is the Christian in me that causes me to weep when relationships are in need of healing, or appear to be broken beyond repair.
And it is the pastor in me that causes me to lie awake at night wondering what I could have done differently, and what I should be doing to make this right.

I’m supposed to be better than this.
I’m not supposed to feel angry, or hurt, or betrayed, and I’m supposed to do all that I can to ensure that the other person doesn’t feel this way either.
Love is supposed to win out in the end.
I’m supposed to be able to fix this.
But I can’t.
I can’t.
I can’t.
I can’t.

I feel like I’m trying to pick through the jagged shards of a precious vase that has toppled off the shelf, and I can’t help but continue to cut myself painfully and deeply as I attempt to sort through the pieces, desperately trying to fit them back together again.

I can’t do this on my own.
I’m not that powerful.
In fact in this situation I feel quite power-less.

I think the problem lies in the belief that I’m supposed to be like Jesus.
I’m supposed to be perfect.

But perhaps sometimes we try too much to be like Jesus.
We are too quick to dismiss our human feelings as we try to elevate ourselves to “saintly” status.
“What would Jesus do?” we ask ourselves.
Jesus would forgive, show mercy, act and speak only from a place of love and compassion.

But we forget that Jesus was not only fully divine, he was also fully human.
Jesus expressed anger, he was sometimes quick to judge others, he felt the sting of betrayal, he felt both physical and emotional pain, he allowed fear to rule his heart, and he wept.

As I continue to weep over the loss of this relationship, I’m trying to keep in mind that Jesus allowed himself to feel both compassion and anger, and both love and pain.
What would Jesus do?
Jesus would be human, and then strive to be more divine.
We can only aspire to do the same.  

A friend’s Facebook status this morning summed up brilliantly this daily dance that we do:

“It's Monday. The world's not perfect yet. I'm not perfect yet. And I suspect, without knowing for sure of course, that you're not perfect yet. Can we agree to get going anyway?”

Yes, let’s agree to do just that. 


Job said...

Very touching. Thank you. I'm sorry that you're hurting.

Jackie said...

And what are we supposed to learn from this? Usually, when i figure out the lesson, the pain begins to lessen.

Love you, Mo!

Maureen said...

Good question, Jackie. I know what the lesson is NOT - that I'm not supposed to be less trusting or less loving to lessen the chance of getting hurt.
I suspect the real lesson here has something to do with recognizing that I don't have the power to heal brokenness on my own, and that sometimes it will never be healed. I'm still working on that one.

Love you, too!

Pat said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your struggle. One thing I try to remember in times like this - is that we aren't called to be Jesus. We aren't called to perfection. We are called to be the most genuine person we can be (in this case, the most genuine Mo, you can be) Your sincere wrestling with the situation is a testament that you are already doing that - - -

Marie said...

Ugh. I so resonate with this. The image of picking up shards of a broken vase is powerful and perfect. And I appreciate the reminder that being human means that we will have broken relationships. But my Pisces, ENFJ, Enneagram 8 self doesn't like it either.

Notable Notes said...

Thank you, Maureen. This touched what has been unidentified but hurting within me for a long time. It brought a new breaking open that I have been longing for. God bless your time apart with charity, mercy and grace. Love remains. Celeste

Maureen said...

Thank you, Pat, Marie, and Celeste. I have to admit, whenever I post something like this I wonder if I'm revealing too much of myself in a very public way. Thank you for reminding me that I do this not just for my own benefit, but also so that others might find solace in the realization that none of us is ever alone.
Love you all.