|Life Lessons: Seeking Perfection|
|Written by The Heileger Chana Chaya|
Were Avraham, Yitzchak, Yosef, and Moshe perfect? If they were God’s favorites, they must have been perfect. Or so I thought…
“There is no way that I am sharing this writing at that meeting. It’s just too embarrassing for me.”
And I continued to write my answers to the assignment, anyway, because I wanted to change.
The 6th step of the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program states:
"We were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character."
By this, the 6th step, we in Overeaters Anonymous had often already put the food aside. Now we are working on fixing our defects of character.
I wanted to remain relieved of the food obsession.
So, I wrote and wrote, knowing I cannot share these revelations with anyone, especially, not at the meeting.
I got to the meeting.
We went around the room. Each person read her response to the assigned question.
“Wow!” I thought, “She wrote exactly what I did.”
And then the next person read hers.
It was the same as mine.
And the next...
By the time it was my turn, I decided not to read it to them.
But not because I was ashamed.
Rather, because it would be so boring.
I wrote almost the same thing that all the others who shared wrote.
I realized from this that I had no "original sin." I was not the first one to do any of the things I was so ashamed of.
I was no different, no worse, than anyone else.
While I was putting my heart on the paper, I felt such embarrassment at who I was and at things I had done.
But here, I heard just about everyone else sharing what I was ashamed of within myself.
I saw for the first time, really saw, that I am not different.
I was so “not different” in my misguided actions, that I feared that what I wrote would now be boring to others, had I shared it.
No one else is perfect. Why do I think I have to be?
“Maybe,” it dawned on me, “I don’t have to be perfect.”
But still, a few years later…
It was the day before New Years Eve.
My world, as usual was caving in. I had a very ill son, perennial head and jaw pain, no money to pay to treat either of us, a painful marriage, and more.
We went around the room. I was the second one to speak.
“I wish I was dead!” I shared, which I had prefaced with: “I know you will all not want to talk to me once I tell you this. I know that no one wants to be with someone who is so negative.”
But I was not one to share without being real and that is where I was at.
I was wishing my life were over, even though I had not yet had my 34th birthday.
And as we went around the room,
the next person said she wished she were dead, also.
And the next, and the next.
In fact out of the 53 people who were at the meeting, there were only three who did not feel that they wished they were dead -
and those three expressed that they felt left out.
I was in awe. I shared my deepest negative thought.
In response, others shared that they felt the same.
Again, I wondered, “Am I really that bad?”
Was this telling me that I am no different from anyone else?
Was I learning that maybe I don’t have to be perfect to be okay?
When I studied the Torah writings, one of the first things to stick out at me was that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, those who God loved most, were not perfect.
Avraham put his wife Sara at risk, fearing for his own life.
Yitzhak may have been blind to the distinction between Yakov and Esav.
Yakov participated in trickery of his father and later of his father-in-law.
Yosef, in the basic text, appeared to have some vanity issues.
Moshe Rabbeinu may have had some impatience with others.
Our matriarchs and patriarchs were great people, the greatest of all time.
Yet, according to the simple text, each was not perfect in a different way, not according to my view of perfection anyway.
Yet they were great! Yet, God loved and favored them.
Perhaps the Almighty's view of perfection is not the same as mine had been. Perhaps, the Torah greats were really perfect just as they were.
Perhaps the imperfection is what created their perfection.
So, I don’t have to be perfect, either, in order to find my own greatness.
Trying to be perfect took me further from where I wanted to be, further from who I wanted to be.
Thinking that I have to be perfect stopped me from growing.
It doesn’t have to be perfect to be great.
No one is as perfect as when he addresses his own imperfection.
As soon as I believe I am perfect, my perfection stops.
As soon as I try to be perfect, I am walking alone.
In my imperfection, I am never alone.
Being far from perfect is where the perfection lies.
Copyright © Chana Klein 2011