A Sister Reflects


By Nita | Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

A vicious enemy of the spiritual life is perfectionism. If we succumb to this compulsion, we become our own worst critic. We monitor our every move out of fear and shame at the prospect of being imperfect, mediocre, or, worse still, someone unworthy of love and connection. We believe our perfectionism will make us successful and admired, but in reality it sucks the joy out of life. 

Perfectionism also urges us to focus on the deficiencies of others, blaming them for our irritability, upset, or unhappiness. We often project our weaknesses onto others, accusing them of faults we fail to admit in ourselves. Sometimes putting others down becomes a strategy to prop up our own collapsing self-esteem. If we persist in perfectionistic fault-finding, we will lose our capacity to feel warmth or genuine like for ourselves or other people. 

One effective way to free ourselves from the burden of perfectionism is to discover our motivation for maintaining this compulsion. Imagine doing poorly at a task that is important to you. Ask yourself, “Why would this be a problem for me?” Repeatedly ask this question of yourself until you discover the hidden assumption that is at the root of your perfectionism. Perhaps you have been deeply hurt by the put-downs, disapproval, or abuse of others. Perhaps you fear being disliked and abandoned by others. Perhaps you fear being incompetent or vulnerable and out of control. Whatever the particulars, embrace your wounded heart with self-compassion. Hold your pain with tenderness and allow God to wrap you in unconditional love. Gently address your fears with sound reason. By facing your fears in this way, they begin to lose their power over you. 

Do you struggle with perfectionism? If yes, what do you think is the hidden fear that grounds your compulsion?

Blessings,
Sister Sara


No Cars-1 by zeevveez | Flickr CC BY 2.0

Consider these three roadblocks to discerning the call of God.

  • Inexperience in the Ways of God: Beginners on the spiritual journey have not learned how to tune into God’s presence and action in the ordinary happenings of daily life. An excellent example from the Bible is the story of Samuel who hears his name called three times in the quiet of the night, but mistakenly thinks it’s the priest Eli who is calling him. When Eli realizes that it is the voice of God calling Samuel, he tells Samuel to respond by saying, “Speak, Yahweh, your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3: 9). The help of those more experienced in the spiritual life, such as a spiritual director, can enable you to open up to God in your everyday life and to respond better to God’s lead.

  • Fear of Disapproval: If you believe that you must always meet the expectations of other people, you may succeed in pleasing others at the cost of your own integrity and self-esteem. By consistently focusing on what others want, you make it almost impossible for you to know what you really desire in life. As a result, you have little practice setting priorities for yourself and making independent decisions based on prayerful discernment. When you give other people too much power over you, they can easily coerce you to do things you do not really want to do. When your freedom isn’t free, it is difficult to respond to God’s call in your life.

  • Unhealthy Attachments: God wants all of humanity to enjoy, love, and foster not only the people in our lives but the other great gifts of creation as well. While all of these gifts of creation help us to praise, love and serve God, they are not meant to take the place of God or hinder our spiritual growth. Our goal when discerning between different life choices is to grow closer to God. We seek to serve the world God so loved and to desire what God desires for us, knowing that if we do so we will bring about our greatest fulfillment. We are often tempted, however, to pursue lesser goals and desires that actually lead us away from the love and service of God. Unhealthy attachments such as addictions, self-centeredness, or inordinate desires for power, wealth, or pleasure can bind our spiritual freedom and block our full response to God.

Is following the call of God your top priority in life? Are there other obstacles to discerning God’s call that you would like to add to this list? Write us a comment on your reflection.

Blessings,
Sister Sara




Sister Lorraine Réaume, OP
Director of Formation

Sister Sara Fairbanks, OP
Director of Vocations, East Coast-Midwest Vocations Promoter


Adrian Dominican Sisters
1257 East Siena Heights Drive
Adrian, Michigan 49221-1793


517-266-3537


 


 

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