Driving down the road never happens in a straight line; it requires using the steering wheel. It’s amazing how many hundreds and thousands of times we adjust the steering wheel to continue in the direction we want to go. A small adjustment is needed almost every second. That’s very much like living our daily life.
So, count how many seconds there are in a 20-minute drive to work. Wow! That’s a lot of adjustments.
Why is this like living our daily life? Well, there’s no such thing as a mistake-less, adjustment-free life. Think about it. Our to-do list is really a list of things, actions and adjustments needed to move toward a goal. We are constantly working to change things, improve, make things different and better.
Great peace comes when we realize that walking out the journey (daily steps of adjustments) to accomplish the goal is more important than the accomplishment itself. Adjustments are not only unavoidable; they are an essential part of the enjoyment of life.
Finding joy in the journey
A repairman told me one time he literally hated his job. When I asked why, he said, “Because everyone is always complaining and upset about something that needs to be fixed. I have to work with complaining people and broken equipment every day, all the time. I’ve had it!”
But, our favorite appliance repairman and car mechanic have something in common. They love, love, love to fix broken things. Despite the fact that virtually every customer has a complaint, they never groan, moan and mumble about having to deal with broken stuff all the time. Rather, they’re curious, enjoy finding the problem and then fixing it. They’re always making adjustments.
Hmmm. Have you noticed? They also like giving us the bill!
In general, a negative workaholic perfectionist is un-understanding of the joy of the process. They think that fulfillment only comes when the job is done and completed to their satisfaction. Consequently, their norm is making impatient demands on themselves, things and others. They incorrectly think they can only have peace and joy when the end product is completed.
Many of these perfectionists don’t discover the joy and fulfillment of the daily journey until later in life. This is why so many recent retirees quickly discover they need to get out and find a part-time job. Staying at home, lounging on the couch with no challenge and no purpose sure gets boring fast. They need to get out there and make some more mistakes.
A Steering Wheel Life is one of getting in the game every day, facing the many challenges, and making the adjustments necessary to make progress.
Did you know, a Christian life is a Steering Wheel Life? Christianity does not say that God expects a perfectionist life at all.
In fact, the Bible says that “Everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23, NLT). “If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts” (1 John 1:10). “No one is righteous — not even one” (Romans 3:10).
The difference is, God made a way for us to daily find forgiveness and peace by humbling ourselves, returning to him and repenting with the intention of doing better each day.
God is not mad at us for falling short. Rather, he has made a way for us to dump the guiltiness and make the adjustment (and adjustments) we need.
This is great news for you and me, for everyone, and especially for the up-tight perfectionist. God knows we cannot live a mistake-less life without him. So, he’s provided a way to relieve us of the guilt. And he’s provided special help and strength to do better and better as we move forward.
Christianity teaches those who refuse God’s forgiveness and very present help to get rid of the guilt, will live an increasingly burdensome and trouble-filled life. That leads to a forever of stubbornly walking in the self-way of doing things, which gets darker and darker, worse and worse. It’s like being sucked into a black hole. The forever place to live out that way is hell.
But those who accept God’s way of doing things, accepting his forgiveness for their short-comings, and accepting his wisdom and strength to be corrected, well, that’s increasingly more and more joyous. That leads to a forever of walking on a path that gets brighter and brighter. The forever place people get to do that is called heaven.
So, don’t worry about making mistakes. We’re all in the same boat, you and me. God knows all about it, and so does everyone else.
In a way, God’s very much like our favorite appliance repairman and mechanic. He never gets tired of helping us fix whatever it is, and moving forward with us.
Join me. Let’s do that kind of forever with God together.
Steve Davis, Ed.S. is an adjunct professor at Trinity International University and writes about personal development and education. He can be reached at [email protected].