Confessions of a (Recovering) Idealist

Nathan Smith Christian Maturity, Life Skills

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Some people have a tendency to polarize issues and oversimplify them. I know I do. You are either right or you are wrong. You are either making smart financial decisions or you are not.  You are either living according to God’s will, or you aren’t. However, the longer you live you discover there are holes in this logic that you must acknowledge. When those ‘exceptions to the rule’ show up you are forced to make a choice. Do you dogmatically pound those variances into one category or the other, or do you humbly reflect on them and say ‘perhaps there is more to this than I previously realized?’ Some of us feel free to ask that question. Others of us have never allowed ourselves to ask such questions because that would be to ‘surrender to the status quo.’  If you feel it is failure to accept that things may not always have a clear answer, live with a very high expectation of yourself and others, and feel an intense sense of responsibility to do things ‘the right way’ you, my friend, are an idealist. Welcome to the club. Now, let’s find a way out of here because it’s killing us!  (Click Here To Read My Post Called ‘When Wanting To Do The Right Thing Is Wrong)

I consider myself a ‘recovering idealist’ and would love for you to either find your way to that place or learn how to empathize with those that are trying so hard (idealists) that they could spontaneously combust at any moment! Idealists often have a pure intention. It’s possible they were compliant children that wanted to make good choices and set a good example. Perhaps they were even expected to do that. Some people reject such pressures. That can manifest in a myriad of ways: rebellion and apathy or a free spirited wonder that is refreshing. However, for the idealists, we accepted such pressures as a challenge to embrace and very quickly filed it under doing things ‘the right way’. This works well for a while and helps you make good choices that keep you from much pain and frustration.  But there comes a point with age where those simple, clean lines start bumping into the stuff of life and no longer are so clear. This is where the dilemma shows up for many idealists and where intense frustration sets in. I’ll call it ‘the lie of either, or’.

Are You Trying Too Hard?

The ‘lie of either, or’ says that there is a ‘right’ answer to every circumstance. It is EITHER this OR it is that. There is simply no other option. Let me be clear, there are VERY clear lines in Scripture (The Bible) about a great many things that are not up for debate. Those issue are not on the table for discussion in this post. However, there are an infinite number of situations and circumstances where we must simply allow ourselves to humbly trust the Lord and make a decision that is fueled by faith and wise counsel, but may or may not line up with an ideal that we have always held to. Unfortunately, those of us in the church are often the WORST at such issues because we have had such an intense drive to do things ‘the right way.’ Relax. Your Father is for you, He loves to watch you grow and learn. Like a proud Papa, He is excited to see you take your first steps and do things you never tried before. He won’t let you hit your head but He may allow you to scrape your knee. He wants you to grow and learn in the same way you want that for your own children. He is with you and as long as you are walking towards Him and not away from Him, you can trust that He will steer you, even if it means going in a direction you previously thought was ‘not ideal.’  I guess the real question becomes, ‘are you humble enough to allow Him to steer you?’  (Click Here To Read My Post Called ‘Are You Humble Enough To Appear Arrogant?’)

Remember, it’s the tension that makes the music. That string pulled across the sound hole of the guitar is stretched at both ends to the perfect tension so that it sings the right pitch. Pull it too hard one way or the other and it breaks. You are the same. Living purely based on your intellect and ‘good judgement’ is humanism, while living with a dogmatic judgement that disavows the parities of life is idealism. Let us be lead by a loving God who is unimpressed with our efforts to ‘show Him how it’s done’ and delights in children that will simply listen to His voice for daily direction.  So the next time you ponder, ‘is it grace or is it truth?’, remember, it’s both.  Is it Gifts of the Spirit or is it Fruit of the Spirit?  Both. Is it saving and planning or is it generosity and faith? Both. And on, and on, and on….  Trust God more than you trust your ability to get it right.  You’ll live with less stress and be more full of hope that satisfies your own soul and gives you a reservoir to offer to others.(Click Here To Read My Post Posses the Land: Yes It Requires Work)

From the Bible

The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” – Genesis 2:15-17 NIV

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. 26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another. – Galatians 5:25-26 NIV

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. 7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. – Proverbs 3:5-6 ESV

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