The best we will ever become is a Work in Progress (WIP). No matter what we do, we will always be like giraffes running on ice—clumsy. Our dreams really will always exceed our grasp, no matter how perfect our plans. And I believe that God likes that we dream. He loves for us to rise up against gravity, so to speak, even though we are coming back down. Perfection, the idea that I can defeat gravity, seems so much better than the inevitable WIP status.

WIP status: I am going to mess up, miss something, forget something, ignore something, turn against, bump into, walk over, or not know something as I pursue dreaming and hoping, living and loving.

Perfection sounds so much better. You know, to strive and not to yield until perfection is achieved. I prefer the premise (a belief that some people even call faith) that if I work more, figure out enough, try harder, concentrate more energy on doing things for God—I can get to that sweet place of perfection. You know, the place in which I will no longer have to mess with my mortality, live in the unpredictable, struggle with faith, hope, and love, all that stuff.

In perfection—somewhere separate from the life we always have—I will have the sweet victory of being undisturbed by living, completely separated from having to experience life on its own terms, and, then, removed from pain. Personally VICTORIOUS! So much better than always knowing that I’m going to mess something up, for sure.

We are clumsy. Perfection pursuits are very tempting, but they are harmful. They assist us in building illusions of control that we will never possess. They end up costing us more than they ever produce, and remove us from experiencing the fullness of life, and the depths of love. Perfection harms children, marriages, friends, and the one who pursues it has a demand for something that is not going to happen to be removed from something that is inevitable—the pain of living.

The present is never perfect.

If I’m not affected by life, which is the fundamental fantasy in the striving for perfection, it means I don’t attach to anyone in life. Life hurts; love hurts worse, and both live and thrive in the world of imperfection.

If I’m separated from experience to protect me from emotional pain, the potential for love ceases. Perfection-pursuit is a way to put today off to another place called tomorrow. It keeps me from being present because the present is where I feel life, and the present is never perfect. It stops me from attaching because of the fear of the feelings of living life as a great risk. It blocks me from being vulnerable to needing you or God, or listening to my own heart, for that matter, and needing clearly points to imperfection. If I miss love, I miss life completely. Love is worth the pain of attachment in a world that is imperfect, even tragic.

No one overcomes life; it takes a lifetime to learn how to live. We live on earth and there is no cure for our condition. The best we will ever “get” is like giraffes running on ice—clumsy. We need to work at being WIPs, because that is our condition, not perfection. Anyone who demands more, including ourselves, is looking for someone else, someone beyond human. If I demand more than I have, it will require that I dissociate from my own heart, your heart, and the heart of God.

Looks like being a WIP may not be the end of things, so much, as the entrance to the things that are very, very real—like me and you remembering mercy, having compassion, admitting fault, seeking forgiveness, and working together while we slip and slide to a place called living fully as a WIP.

Posted
AuthorChip Dodd

Success is what children want from grown-ups. Children desire success for grown-ups because the big people clear the path for children to walk until they walk on their own. However, the measuring stick of success from a child’s perspective is very different from common adult standards. Children expect us to be successful at being ourselves. 

Children don't typically struggle at being themselves. They struggle to keep their humanity of expressing feelings, needs, desire, longings, hope, and imagination as they get older. We, the adults, are the ones who claw at perfection. Children, on the contrary, don't despair and resign when they cannot achieve perfection. Sure they cry about beauty ending and fun coming to an end, but they don't despise those feelings that express care. We adults seek perfection to avoid the inevitable pain of life. The humility of being human is a child's standard, not the perfection of escaping humanity.

Children come into this life with a complete package of feelings to express the heartache of limitation—living in a broken place with eternity in our hearts. Children cry in sadness, cry out in hurt, squeal with delight in joy, run to safety in fear, seek another in loneliness, pursue a dream with anger. They bring these responses to us, believing that we understand enough to relate the story of life and its experiences. Instead, we often hand them a stone when they seek bread. We tell them how not to let life “bother” them, rather than joining them in the story of how life hurts and how to live the pain of love.

Feelings are always the antidote to adult cynicism.

Children literally depend on us to be human enough to support their experiences rather than shame them for their humanity. Their trust in our human experience, for better or worse, becomes the way they build a map for navigating life.

Children expect grownups to be tough enough to hope and courageous enough to stay and show them the way to be enough, too. They want us to “do” human well; they want us to be of the same substance as them, except experienced and made wiser in a way that will help them keep their hope alive. A child's marker of success is the hard-won standard of surrender to “good enough,” not the self-congratulatory standard of “trying hard for perfection.”

Children believe that we are the grown-up hero and heroine versions of themselves. They believe we are enough. Success to them is having us show them how to remain human. We feel, need, desire, long and hope, just like they do. That is enough. You are enough.

Posted
AuthorChip Dodd