The thing about marriage is that eventually, your beloved sees what a jerk you are. And they tell you about it. (Insert Snoopy disappointment noise.) Research indicates that we consider ourselves far more kind and benevolent than we are. I betcha if you asked Hitler if he was a good, loving guy, he would say, “Ya.
As a young person, I didn’t express anger very much and I certainly didn’t take it out on anyone! I was too nice for that. My parents loved me, but didn’t do me any favors by not arguing in front of me. I knew they had tensions. The drill went: mom would be upset. Dad would try to figure out how to deal with it. This usually happened in the kitchen with both of them chain smoking. (They were excellent smokers). If you walked into the room, you cut through a veil of it with your body. Under 11 foot ceilings. You have to admire that. Then… I would go up to my room on the 2nd floor and blast some Barry Manilow to drown out the possibility of anger and rage, which, only twice to my memory happened.
I don’t know if I really let loose with anger with my spouse until after I was married. But marriage and seeing myself as I really was, in all of my selfish, whiny ick was troubling. Hey, I was voted “most inspirational musician” in high school. I was one of the good ones! There must be something wrong with him!
And if course there was. We are, all of us, wonderful disasters. But my job is to figure out me, not him.
Having a delusional sense of my goodness was not actually so good for me. It put a curtain (not unlike that smoke veil) between me and myself. And between me and others. It took a lot of years of life failures for me to become freer. Spiritual perfectionism can make you as crazy as being outraged over your favorite pen moving from it’s assigned spot. (Both of which happened in our family.)
I am on a different path right now. I don’t buy into a lot of jargon I hear that feels like an effort to keep people hanging onto systems of oppression, including and especially in churches. I feel freer to speak now. I am less delusional about my own goodness. Living deeply in one’s life forces that upon one. But I also don’t hold onto a theology or philosophy that I am “lower than a worm” –Thank you, Job, for that one.
Some days I am an intentional “imperfectionist”. I have said this before, but it still feels partially right. Don’t go expecting me to be perfect or I will intentionally prove you wrong, just so I can breath a little. What I want to be for myself and for you is honest, wise, generous, empathetic and joyous. Perhaps that is partly what I want from you too.