NPR ran a story today on a weight loss study. The experiment sought to find out if all those sexy models inspire us or hinder us. Half the women in the study were given a food diary with a picture of the same sexy model on every page. The other half's diary contained a picture of a tape measure. That was the only variable. Those with the sexy woman diary actually gained a little weight. Those with the tape measure lost weight.
The theory is that we see that image of perfection, realize we can never get there and get discouraged.
The same thing happens spiritually. In our culture we are held to an image of a perfect god. We can never measure up to that so we give up trying. This is not helpful.
When we move on to realize that the process of becoming perfect is perfect in and of itself a great deal of the pressure is relieved as that perspective correctly reveals we are all a work in progress and that is just fine. In fact, it is part of the design. There are other advantages:
- If the process is perfect, then there can be no flaw in any part of the process. Given that we are part of the process, we too must be perfect.
- Positive and negative actions then become lessons rather than moral judgement.
- By accepting that we have things to learn and are in a continual process of becoming, we can enjoy those lessons and the successes they later bring. This makes a spiritual life a fun life.
- When we have to give things up to grow, we feel less deprived and more honored that another lesson has been bestowed upon us.
Trying to be perfect right now, in a moralistic sense, does not work. Realizing it is the process that is perfect allows us to relax and see ourselves realistically.
We are not judged by the divine but continually guided to newer versions of perfection.