My spiritual director gave me this assignment: Imagine myself in my ideal spiritual state. What does this ideal state look like?
Actually, I’ve been imagining my “idealized state” for most of my life. I have daydreams that would rival Walter Mitty’s about an amazing woman who, for lack of a better name, I’ll call Super Me. This marvelous creature is a slightly older version of myself, and she has her life totally under control. The Super Me fantasy is particularly potent when I’m working on New Year’s resolutions.
Not only can Super Me leap tall buildings in a single bound, she has a meticulously ordered household, with a place for everything and everything in its place – even in the garage and the basement. She frequently invites family and friends to splendid gatherings at her spotlessly clean house. She has managed to achieve a svelte figure by adhering to an eating plan that is both healthy and painless because she has re-educated her palate to prefer vegetables over chocolate covered peanut butter cookie bars and she never misses her Stay Fit exercise class even during an ice storm. She volunteers for various organizations that work to make the world a better place, and she even serves on the board of directors for a couple of them, but she never gets burned out because she’s learned how to set appropriate boundaries without people getting mad at her. Her recently published book sits atop the New York Times bestseller list. And she never loses sleep at 3 a.m. wondering who God is and what God wants from her, because she has finally discerned all the answers to life’s “ultimate” questions.
As I write this, it occurs to me that if I really did manage to achieve this level of perfection, people might not necessarily like me. After all, I personally find other people intimidating when their lives seem too perfect.
On the other hand, I don’t think I have a thing to worry about here: I’m in no danger of achieving that exalted state anytime soon. Fortunately, I’ve learned that God loves me the way I am – not because I’m perfect, but because God is perfect. Good news, indeed, even if I have to remind myself of this from time to time.