I strolled down to the office of Matt Reiswig, Director of Strategic Engagement, and I requested a word of inspiration to motivate me in writing to you all.
These are his google search results: “Just one small positive thought in the morning can change your whole day.” And, “Opportunities don’t happen; you create them.”
In the moments of Matt turning to me and speaking of these ‘positive thoughts in the morning,’ I remembered: I hadn’t prayed today. It was 2:15 pm already.
Immediately, I felt a sense of failure fall upon my chest.
You see, I expect myself to pray in the morning, take time to work out, make a to-do list for the day, and simply give myself time to breathe in the new day. I neglected this routine the particular morning Matt attempted to inspire me and had honestly been neglecting it for a while. You may have a similar morning routine or not, and that’s okay. You do you.
I only say all of this to simply remind you whether you know it or not, that I’m a failure. I am imperfect. I am flawed. And you are too.
However, I desire perfection in this imperfect state I am in. My mind gravitates towards perfection and essentially doing things perfectly. I mean, who wouldn’t want perfection? (aka Our Lord, Jesus Christ)
To say the least, I’m an imperfect perfectionist.
I am the type of person who expects 100% and nothing less. I have an “all or nothing” mindset. If I can’t give 100%, if the task I am expected to do is not perfect, I will not finish it. My mind tells me, “If I don’t pray in the morning, I can’t do it any other time in the day.” That’s messed up, I know! It’s not a holy way of life.
When you really think about it, we could all be perfectionists. We desire good and perfect things. Like myself, you probably set expectations for yourself and even others. You more than likely have set routines for your day. And when you don’t reach those standards, you tend to lose yourself in your mistakes or failure. You feel discouraged or even disappointed in yourself and maybe someone else. I feel this way too. All the time!
check out photos from our most recent closing celebration here!
Now that we know we have failure & the desire for perfection in common, let’s establish this: As NET Alumni, we were given expectations to set us up for success and sainthood. You know what I’m talking about… NET Training and all. We were given essential Christian tools in living a life that desires the Kingdom while here on earth. And we are extremely blessed to have been given those tools. We have hopefully taken these tools and what we have learned into the real world and our daily lives. But I bet you’ve failed along the way just as I have. Since you left NET, you’ve grown, failed, and changed. But most importantly, you’re still His.
The reality is our failures, our flaws, and our mistakes do not define who we are.
Whether we served as missionaries for a year and can’t get a solid 30 minutes of prayer every day, whether you served 2 or even 15 years ago. These flaws are building us up towards the Kingdom. These mistakes are pushing us towards our King. If there is anything NET has taught me, it’s to trade perfectionism with mercy. I constantly have to remind my mind to be kind to myself, have mercy on myself in my failures, and remember that I will not and cannot do everything perfectly. I encourage you to do the same. Things will not always be perfect, but if you step back and look at an imperfect thing with the eyes of mercy, I can bet it will be a whole lot better.
In times when I put myself down or dwell on my mistakes, I remind myself of the Jesus Prayer:
‘Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
For those of you who know Fr. Sebastian, CFR, he taught me how to pray it on my Rosary. And I’d love to share it with you.
On each ‘Hail Mary’ bead, say(in your mind) while focusing on your breathing:
- Breathe in – Jesus Christ
- Breathe out – Son of God
- Breathe in – Have mercy on me
- Breathe out – a sinner
On each ‘Our Father’ bead, take a moment to take one deep breath.
We are imperfect perfectionists. Flawed yet filled with mercy so remember to be merciful to yourself.