I have had some of my graduate students who, while they may say they loved the class and having me as a professor, say that I'm a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to grammar and writing mechanics. In fact, I saw an "End of Course Survey" comment the other day that said, "Dr. Arneson is the most engaged professor I have ever had, but she acts like she is 'married' to the assignment rubrics." Wait what?? Guilty as charged! We, as educators, have rubric standards for a reason. They help our students see exactly what they can/need to do in order to get a high grade on an assignment. If I seem "married" to it, my response it, "On what else should I base your grade?" I can sleep well every night knowing that my integrity is intact for grading by giving very specific, very clear, and very prompt feedback to all my students. Is there a bit of perfectionism in there? Maybe. And do I have a bit of a bias towards students who hold themselves to these standards as well? Maybe. Sometimes, I see little mini-me students, and they make me smile.
But, I'm not a perfectionist about everything, for sure. Anyone who has ever visited the Arneson house (with the possible exception being literally minutes after our housekeeper has come) knows that our house is always filled with dog hair. If you sit on our couches with black pants, you will get up with a new style of pant-color. What special treat is that!! And please, for all things Holy, do not open drawers around the kitchen or bathroom as there may be things that pop out like something from a jack-in-the-box. Why? It's because the drawers are my "go-to" when I need to hide things off of the counters (when people come to visit, etc.). In other words (and I promise I am trying to work on this), things may look perfect on the outside but inside, I still want approval and perfectionism from myself. What is in your drawers (figuratively, not literally)? For me, it's my desire to be loved (or at least liked) and to be known for being passionate about what I do. I love my friends unconditionally and I have a bit of an expectation that they feel the same way. When it's a problem is when it hinders my ability to simply BE. I cannot be somebody or something that I am not, and I may not be everyone's cup of tea. But my spiritual advisor reminds me it's none of my business what other people think of me. I pray every single morning (kneel down on a kneeler beside the bed and hold hands/paws with L.C. and pray; yes, it is precious, and yes, I will get Dave to take a picture) for God to direct my thinking for that day (among other things, of course). Why do I need to do that? Left to my own devices, my thinking would get me into a heap of trouble. Even Jesus needed strength and prayed. Richard Rohr ("Yes, And...", 1997) said Jesus had to pray during his temptation in the desert, before he was able to choose his apostles, while he debated with his adversaries, in the garden of Gethsemane, and even on the cross. If Jesus, as a human being, needed prayer to help Him through these "crosses to bear", then my little grain-sized body must really need prayer, for sure.
We will never be perfect. Why? Our priest said, today, it's because "we are divinely human". What should we do, then? Remember that it is progress and willingness that should be our creed, not perfection. Why set myself up for failure? If I am expecting perfection, and I know I'm never going to achieve it, then what is the point? I pray every day because I have a calling to teach and to work with other educators and educational leaders. I am called to fulfill my calling, quite honestly.
Just for today, perhaps examine what your calling is, and then determine what you do to help achieve it, knowing that it might not ever be perfect but recognizing that it never has to be. It's the waking up and growing up that matters. Thanks, Reverend Debra, for pushing me to think every week during your sermons. I love the challenge, and I love you (unconditionally, by the way).
I would love to hear some comments from you all about your own journeys. Hearing others' stories helps us grow in our own journey, I think.