Friday, January 25, 2013

Perfect? Free?

This may turn out to be a self-pitying, whining blog post. That's actually what I'm going for, on this cranky Friday evening, though every parent voice in my brain will try to turn me away from that goal, because it's bad to whine and complain.

By parent voice, I mean the voice of parental authority--not the one I try to use on my kids from time to time, but the parent voices that were used on me and that live on inside my head. The ones that said try hard, do your best, things come easy to you so you have a responsibility to be even better. And don't complain. Mundane, boring tasks are part of life. You're no better than anyone else, just do them. In fact, doing them (without complaining) is ennobling.

All of that--that is so ingrained in me that it's a credo, the creed of where and how I am supposed to live in the world.

I guess it's useful. Keep pushing to do better. Rewrite. Tinker. Keep learning. Work hard. Vocalize. Exercise. Plan. Proofread.

But it's all such hard work. (Whine, feel sorry for self here--but who wants to read that?)

Last weekend I ripped the finished front band from my purple-sweater-in-process so I could fix the way it puckered. This meant picking up 375 evenly spaced stitches from the front edge all over again. Respacing buttonholes. And reknitting six rows times 375 stitches in a 1x1 twisted rib. The result, after about six hours of knitting, will be a front band that will lie flat, plain, and unremarkable across my upper chest. I hope.

So many things to try to do perfectly. I heard someone pronounce something "perfect" today, something I thought was not at all perfect. I don't believe in using that word lightly. I'd rather pound myself with it. I've torn up and rewritten things many times over, though still not to my satisfaction. I've grown frustrated and unhappy with my singing. I've been short and snappish, insincerely outgoing and charming, and spittingly angry, toxic to others--or at least I think so. I've beaten myself up in the late hours of the afternoon and the early hours of the evening and before I even get out of bed in the morning. You'll not hear a chirpy, irony-free pronouncement of "perfect" from me.

The problem is, this is all very tiring. Doing stuff isn't much fun. And the word freedom keeps popping up in my mind.

In my Bible study group we are reading Galatians these days: Paul and the freedom of the gospel, based in faith, not works. Before Christmas we read James: "faith without works is dead." I think the way to reconcile the two is by trying to imagine the faith experience of both writers, or of Paul and of the Christian community led by James. In James it's a faith experience that makes suffering and hardship a joy, since God can be trusted. In Paul it's an experience of Christ that completely changes his life. But in both places a life of faith goes well beyond what you do and how well you do it. It's living by inner light that has its source in God's redeeming love. And letting go of that nagging, shaming parent voice.

Parent voice, lighten up. Heart center, light up. Have a little compassion on the whiner. And let there be peace and joy in the weekend and in the reknitting.

1 comment:

Gwen Gotsch said...

For what it's worth: purple sweater band is re-knitted and lying almost flat--nothing that blocking or a little steam won't fix. It's not perfect and there's one place that may require a couple discrete stitches to close a small hole, but it is good enough, in fact, it's nice indeed.

Good enough--indeed, quite nice. Watchwords for the week.