Monday, August 10, 2009

Perfect

It took me a while, but I've finally realized a problem I have with my blogging. I want to be perfect.

This occurred to me as I was walking into my favorite grocery store yesterday. I'd had a good morning at church, despite some real anxiety going in. (BTW, sermon's up, here.) I'd decided to preach on the death of Absalom from the point of view of dealing with pain and loss, and the sermon had taken a sharp left unexpectedly, but I was ok with that, as far as it went. (Pesky Spirit. You just never know with Her, you know?). My anxiety was twofold: First, I knew of some friends who would be visiting... friends from a distinctly Other Part of my life (theater people with whom I'd recently tread the boards!). These folks had never heard/ seen me in my Clergy Action Figure role, and they are not churched in the least, but were coming as friends, which I dearly appreciated. (One amusing feature of life at church these days is, any friend of mine who shows up and is female is automatically assumed to be Beloved. Sweet!) The Second part of my anxiety had to do with the fact that, while I began the sermon thinking about specific losses recently experienced by members of the congregation, other closer losses (closer to the sermon's subject) were dawning on me as I wrote, and I became concerned that the sermon might actually be painful or even unhelpful for some.

So my writing had been filled with visions of all these specific faces and situations, and I'd fretted about who would react how, and I worried, in particular, that I was writing the sermon too much for the un-churched folks (I realize in typing that how absolutely absurd it sounds).

Well, church went ok, I think. Petra and I sang, which was lovely--we did duets of three songs from Godspell (O Bless the Lord, By My Side, and All Good Gifts), playing guitars, and accompanied by our fabulous church musician on piano. The congregation was certainly rapt during the sermon. There was a great stillness and concentration. Afterwards, most comments were on the singing, though several people mentioned that the sermon was good or moved them. The one person whose loss had made me fret focussed solely on the music, and looked as if she needed to get out of there. A swing and a miss? Or... a good opportunity for her to hear aloud some things that are often unspoken?

As I walked into the grocery store, out of my clericals and in my jeans, carrying my green shopping bags, I thought: I really want to be perfect.

I really want to be perfect as a preacher. I want every sermon to hit every person exactly where they need it, and leave them bathed in the love of God.

And I want to be perfect as a blogger. I want to share real wisdom and real insight (and real humility, natch). And... here's where it gets really icky... I want to present a perfect life to you.

Things have not been so perfect lately. I've had some real struggles in my relationship with Beloved. We are so utterly devoted to one another, and at the same time, in certain ways we miss one another. We love one another decidedly imperfectly. I don't want to talk about that stuff. If ruins my image of myself as perfect... this perfect, anonymous lesbian pastor whose life is oh so interesting and who will keep you guys reading and cheering me on.

This is not unlike the pastor of the congregation who wants everyone to believe that his/ her marriage is perfect, his/ her prayer life is perfect, his/ her children are perfect, to the point that he/ she strangles all those things in an effort to manage and control them. As I swung my environmentally friendly shopping bags in my hand, and put on my reading glasses and pulled a shopping cart out of the line up, I thought: how utterly, massively unhelpful that always is, for all concerned, this... trap of perfection.

I want to be perfect for you, my blogging community. And... my word, some days... it absolutely paralyzes me from taking any useful steps at all.

So, recently Beloved hurt me... and I hurt her back... and I might have set her up to hurt me in the first place. Now we are fine. Better than fine. (We always experience that joy and relief of rescue after something like this. That's where we are now.) But... I don't want to talk about that stuff here. But I will say this; Relationships are hard. Especially when you have the deep belief that every sign of trouble points to breaking up (because that's what happened in the other Big Relationship of your life). I am a pain in the ass, friends. Not perfect by a long shot.

But I would like to be here, and the burden of perfection makes it impossible for me to write. So... I'm going to try to be done with that.

13 comments:

God_Guurrlll said...

Just be you. Pefection is way overrated.

LYMI

SueM said...

Relationships are hard and none of them are perfect, whether they are gay, straight, mixed or whatever. I try not to try to be perfect anymore, just to be the best person I am able to be, and that is hard enough.

Jones said...

I appreciate the honesty and integrity with which you write. None of us are perfect, be a pretty boring world if we were. There'd be no reason for PMS! Love your blog, keep at it.

MaineCelt said...

Bless you for ALL of you: for your strivings toward perfection (language from my Methodist upbringing...) to your self-pronounced pain-in-the-assness!

At the end of the day, it is not perfection, but our very human particularities, that help us connect with, and love, the rest of God's children.

Barbara said...

I am currently struggling with these same "perfection" issues, and frankly, it is VERY hard. And, I am realizing that this ridiculous struggle takes energy away from positive creativity. So now the struggle is to let go of the struggle.

PseudoPiskie said...

But here you can be you. We accept you as you are. Stay with us even in imperfection. You have plenty of company t/here.

Sara said...

I am so thankful that I didn't get the "perfect" gene. My sweet husband got enough for both of us. Unfortunately, the kid got it as well.

You don't have to be perfect on my account! And, what Jones said.

LittleMary said...

good to hear this voice. be imperfect. cause that is human and you know, you aren't god.

love you,
little mary

susankay said...

Cecilia -- I'll just ask: whom have you ever loved (or even LIKED) who was perfect? Not many or none I would guess. A lot of us go through this and come out the other side far more loveable.

Blessings be.

mojojules said...

I think when your in your first "big relationship" and your a later in life coming out person you tend to put perfection up there. There is this thing of almost proving to yourself and the other person or even outsiders that this was right. Its hard to reveal that hard times happen. I learned this in my first relationship when I came out. We loved each other and I loved for the first time. I had been married and coming out of that and finally realizing what love was, it was overwhelming. I didn't want to admit to anyone when my relationship fell short at times. There is never perfection and when there is pressure for it things break a part. I feel that is what ended my first relationship. She had her idea of perfection, I had mine and although I was willing to bend and move, she just couldn't. The fear of any thing less than her vision of perfect just broke her and in the end our relationship. I'm thankful for the lesson I learned from all this, although it felt at the time it might kill me. From that I learned once again to put on my "perfect" face doesn't help anyone. Yes, some of it comes from being a preacher's kid and I learned well the mask you must put on, but those masks hurt everyone, in any type of relationship. Patsy Clairmont once said, "Normal is just a setting on a dryer" and so I think it is with perfection, its fiction and trying to portray it ever helps anyone.

Blessings!

daisy said...

If you were perfect, we couldn't relate to you, then, could we? Be free to be yourself. Although, paradoxically, the desire for perfection is part of you, too! LOL. Go figure.

Your writing inspires me, though, and I appreciate that you keep at it.

Desire said...

i so like your writing and the way your head works - you make me smile a lot....have you ever looked at the enneagram? ..is a most fascination personality typing tool and much more (useful website http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/ if u are interested)...
very useful for understanding oneself and your others..

SCG said...

I'm dropping in here again, and read this one and thought, "Yeah... we'd all love to be perfectly perfect all the time." And sometimes I wonder if it doesn't get amplified for a priest, or any figure who must have a public persona, because so much gets projected onto that persona.
Peace be with you... in all your perfectly imperfect ways. :)