In yesterday’s post, I touched on the topic of ideals and the frustration that we sometimes experience when we do not meet our own ideals. In today’s post, I would like to discuss this specific topic a little bit more, because it occurs to me how important it is to accept our path of spiritual growth as an ongoing, life-long, unpredictable and sometimes imperfect adventure.
Sometimes the greatest setback to personal growth and contentment is a lack of acceptance of setbacks. It is obvious that this shortcoming can lead to a self-perpetuating cycle which could lead us to choose to abandon our spiritual growth plans out of discouragement.
Be a Spiritual Traveler
Just as sailors and many other travelers had once used the stars to guide their course, we can use spiritual ideals and roll models to guide our course. Just as no Earth bound traveler expects to reach the stars, no Christian can expect to be just like Christ and no Buddhist can expect to be just like Buddha. As long as we are focused on moving in the direction of our ideals, we will get to the places in life that we are meant to reach. Occasionally we will be thrown off course by difficult conditions, uncertainty, complacency or lack of focus, but those ideals will always be there to guide us back on course.
Focus on your spiritual ideals. Whether they are formed from your understanding of your Lord, spiritual texts, general spiritual principles or your own heart, it is helpful to have a specific ideal of how you would like to live your life.
What is your idea of perfection? What is the step immediately in front of you to move in the direction of that perfection?
These are the steps that make up the moments of life. When we know the direction of our focus, and know that we are moving in the right direction, mistakes and setbacks are easily seen as part of the journey and discouragement dissolves.
When imperfections, slow progress or setbacks threaten our self-acceptance, we can gently remind ourselves that we are on a journey of spiritual growth. The moment that journey ends will be the moment this physical life ends. Until that time, we can love and appreciate ourselves for everything that we are: just as God does.