I was watching a Youtube video the other day called "The Perfect Lie" on the Mormon Channel. (Yes, in case you didn't know it, I am in fact a Mormon!). The TED Talk-esque Hope Works speech was by a woman named Tiffany Webster, who shared her experience with chasing, battling, and ultimately choosing to lay aside, perfectionism.
This talk really rang true for me, as I am a recovering perfectionist myself. I've found in my own life that it's a lot more justifiable to chase perfectionism than to look at and uncover what I truly want in my own life. It's a lot less organic effort required on my part to follow a guaranteed-success pattern prescribed to me by my society and culture, rather than to create one for myself.
But what stuck out most to me in this whole video was Tiffany's reference to a scripture that is oft-quoted amongst the Mormon community (and I would guess, within the larger Christian community as well, as there is a corresponding bible verse in the King James Bible, New Testament's Matthew 5:48). It is 3 Nephi 12:48 in the Book of Mormon, and here's how it goes:
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
So here's the thing about this scripture: it tends to induce a lot of panic and anxiety of unfortunate proportions for a lot of people. And it definitely did for me, for a large part of my life! Until I came to a more recent interpretation after studying through the iPEC life coach training program, practicing more yoga and interacting with yogis and yoginis, and just growing up in general.
Here's the iPEC principle that strikes home for me: Doing is work, Being is effortless.
Knowing that, and knowing more about myself and what I believe about my potential as a divine human being, has shaped the new interpretation that I have formed about this scripture.
Here it goes:
Christ says "...ye should BE perfect even as I, or your Father..." (emphasis added). He doesn't say "do" or "strive" or "act." He says "be." In this scripture, Christ is calling me to BE who I am in my fullest, at my essence. To me, He's essentially saying:
"Dude. Just be who you are. Stop trying so hard. Just live the life you're living. You don't have to DO in the sense of overcompensating to be like me, because you already are like me. You're experiencing everything you're meant to experience. We're siblings. We're on this team together. You're a child of God, and you're divinely directed. If you follow the Spirit/Holy Ghost/your intuition, you're going to be naturally led to your own personalized steps toward creating the earthly experience you want, and you won't go wrong. Relax. Being is enough."
For me, looking at the scripture this way also brings further understanding and peace with the story in Luke 10:38-42 about Mary and Martha. As a reminder for how the story goes:
38 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he [Jesus] entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Phew, that was a lot to type out. But here's the point: I used to get so freakin' mad about this scripture (in case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of an emotional person). I used to be so frustrated and angry that Jesus answered in this way to Martha. I was like, "Dude! The house needs to be cleaned! People need to be served! Cleanliness is next to godliness, and service is what we're taught to do in your church! Are you seriously going to reprimand her for doing what needs to be done?!" But here's how I understand it now:
Christ is not reprimanding Martha or admonishing her. (Or if He is, there's no way for us to know that for sure without making an assumption.) This is Him saying something along the lines of, "The person (in this case, Mary) who's learning and growing and improving herself and responding to the inner pull she feels to listen to me instead of follow what her head might tell her (in this case, to serve and be busy) gets it. She's not doing for the sake of doing; she's being."
If Mary's heart said to clean the kitchen, then great! And same for Martha! But I don't think that's the point here. I think what's meant to be relevant about this story (or what I'm taking as relevant about this story) is that most of us distract ourselves from being who we are and doing what we're naturally and effortlessly called to do as part of our being, because we're scared or think it's wrong to welcome the pull/prompting and welcome the stillness/peace. What we're pulled and called to do is often a much shorter list (and often more enjoyable) than the endless to-do's we create for ourselves and hold ourselves hostage to. (My personal theory, unsolicited, is that what we're pulled and called to do is often much more meaningful, and therefore potentially large and scary, than society and culture's to-do list. Maybe we're shielding ourselves from fulfilling our divine potential? More to come later.)
Doing is a part of this temporal life, but I don't think it's solely what we're here for. We're here to learn and grow, and the things we do are what are necessary to make that possible, whether by ensuring that we can actually survive or providing a lesson that our spirit recognizes that we want and need to learn. But it's not the essence of why we're here. It's not at the heart of the purpose for which we were created. We are here to be and become.
God doesn't have to DO anything; He just is. If He wants to get something done for a specific purpose, He'll do it. But I don't think He (or She or They or whatever you believe) wastes His time running around, checking things off the list and saying, "Look how much I got done today! I'm such a great doer!" He understands that all there is is just to Be, and that that's who we are as developing gods and goddesses. Inasmuch as "doing" is part of our "being," that is where we're called. But doing for the sake of doing, or for fear of what terrible thing is going to happen to us as a result of not doing, is missing the point.
So I'm gonna take a deep breath, and allow myself to Be. In my belief system there is no "should" or rule about who I'm "supposed" to be or who I'm "failing" to be, because I simply am who I am, and that's that. That's enough. I cannot fail; I cannot hit a wall where I haven't done enough, because that's not what I'm about, and that's not how this works in my mind. I don't have to push myself and bully myself into being Christlike, because I already am Christlike at my core. He's on my team, and I'm on His team, and everything I do on this earth is in effort to get back to the divine core and remembrance of who I am. That's what I was sent here for.
Share your thoughts in a comment below!