How Dogmatic Perfectionism Nearly Killed Me — My Latest for Ravishly

When I was a Christian, one of my favorite books was The Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. He was a former Franciscan priest who struggled with alcoholism for most of his life. Through his struggles he came to believe that God’s grace was big enough for a ragamuffin like him, and that he didn’t have to do anything to earn God’s love. Because of this amazing grace, he was finally able to be okay with his own imperfection.

“To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story,” he wrote, “the light side and the dark. In admitting my shadow side I learn who I am and what God’s grace means.”

While I am no longer a Christian — mostly because I read all the parts of the Bible Manning didn’t mention — I still love the idea of embracing my inner ragamuffin. Like Manning, I’m a walking paradox. I love and I hate. I’m peaceful and I’m violent. I’m honest and I’m hypocritical. I fight for liberation and I perpetuate systems of oppression. It’s just now, at 34 years old, that I’m beginning to be okay with it. As the old song goes, “I wish that I knew what I know now when I was younger.”

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  1. jazzlet says

    One of my mantras is ” Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good, or even of the good enough”. I am still stuggling with this (and I have twenty years on you!), I suspect I always will, and I have only fairly recently learnt not to ruminate on my all my failures whenever I fail. But I have recently learnt in the context of cooking to say, “well that was good, it would be fine if I made it that way again, but it would be even better if I …”. In other words really acknowledging that I have cooked something nice before engaging in the constructive criticism. I’m not so good in other areas, but I keep trying, it is all one can do.

    I wish you well in practising not being a perfectionist, you will get there!

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