If only loving were as easy as getting the numbers balanced and the T's crossed.
Perfectionists help the world go round. We need them to be neurosurgeons and accountants and editors. But perfectionism can also lead easily to discouragement, especially in the spiritual life. Ultimately, it’s pride, but it manifests itself as dejection that there’s always something that could have and should have been done better or differently, instead of a humble acceptance of our faults and resolution to keep on trying. If only loving were as easy as getting the numbers balanced and the T’s crossed.
Rather than picking themselves up after a fall — with the attitude, say, of humble St. Therese* — perfectionists can get easily discouraged by their sin — by the fact that we are just dust, after all, and that “even the just man falls seven times.”
The Sacred Heart is a consoling devotion for such struggles. It reminds us that Christ is there just loving, no matter what. And we can count on his power to redeem what should have been done better.
A perfectionist discouraged by the constant lack of perfection in her soul can sleep in peace by ending each day with this prayer:
Prayer in Reparation for Our Daily Faults Eternal Father, I offer you the Sacred Heart of Jesus, with all its love, all its sufferings, and all its merits. First — to expiate all the sins I have committed this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father … Second — to purify the good I have done poorly this day and during all my life. Glory be to the Father … Third — to supply for the good I ought to have done, and that I have neglected this day and all my life. Glory be to the Father …
[This prayer and many other devotions to the Sacred Heart can be found in the lovely and elegant leather-bound Sacred Heart of Jesus Prayer Book, published by Pauline Books and Media.]
*”What a comfort it is, this way of love! You may stumble on it, you may fail to correspond with grace given, but always love knows how to make the best of everything; whatever offends our Lord is burnt up in its fire, and nothing is left but a humble, absorbing peace deep down in the heart.” (St. Therese, Story of a Soul).
The 5 defects of Jesus