The Trouble with Idealism

Today I discovered a problem I never knew I had.

I am an idealist. My mind races with idealistic thoughts, especially when it comes to my future.

I day dream of my ideal job: a thrilling reporting career spent interviewing interesting people, reviewing interesting food, and traveling interesting places to write about them.

Then, there’s the ideal house I’ll one day own: quaint, with an enormous kitchen fit for a chef, located on a little piece of farmland somewhere. I can go just outside for my fresh eggs in the morning; the view of valleys and livestock for miles and miles will start my everyday. However, my home will be close enough to a cute, little downtown where I can have lunch with my gal pals.

Onto the ideal significant other: godly, athletic, flawless. He’ll love me unconditionally and never be angered by my quirks– like how I’m a germaphobe but quite disorganized. He’ll be a free-spirit (kinda like me) who likes hiking and running and going to spur-of-the-moment events and shows. He’ll be a leader and never, never sin. No, no, no. My man will never sin. (Ha! I laugh as I write this!)

And you can’t forget my ideal children: sweet and innocent and attractive. They’ll never say a foul word about their mama. I’ll go to their baseball games on Thursday evenings and, on the weekends, we will have picnics in the park. They’ll dress all fancy for church on Sundays at our local Baptist congregation. I have all their names planned out; they will be mostly boys.

And, as I wrote all that, I found flaws in my logic. None of this perfect, future life of mine could really go as I plan. First off, there probably won’t be any interesting news to cover as a reporter if I live in a flippin’ countryside. And what if I have kids who don’t even like to play baseball? What if I have all girls? There’s no way I’ll have kids without flaws, cause I mean, look around… it’s preposterous. And it’s unlikely I’ll find a perfect man, unless of course it’s Jesus (but I’ve already found Him). Also, I don’t want to tend to chickens! I just want them to be there to give me eggs.

It’s really all just silliness. But you can’t say I’m alone in creating an ideal life for myself in my sweet little brain.

It’s safe to say most of us strive for perfection, because that’s what our society promotes and how our brains are wired. So, having perfect life-circumstances plotted out is fitting for our perfection-seeking selves. BUT IT’S CRAZY! It just sets us up for disappointment; it sets us up for feeling like we’re “settling;” it makes our expectations of others and ourselves and life unrealistic and unfair.

I hope this isn’t all  confused for me promoting people to have low-standards. I don’t think that’s good at all. I just think that it’s safest to have no standards at all. Eradicate standards!

To me and for me, standards suggest that we are entitled and we deserve some high level of satisfaction in life. Then, when our standard’s aren’t met, we realize we’ve been riding the wave of entitlement too long, we crash, we drown. Our pride is to blame for high-standards.

Standards assume that nothing bad or devastating will ever occur in life. And when they do, we cry out and question ‘why has God allowed this to happen?’ We fail to recognize the beauty in trial and the refinement that comes with tribulation.

Standards imply that God won’t or shouldn’t provide what He intends to provide for us; we should shape our own lives and not follow His pre-set model. When we work so hard on our own to “create a life,” how do we know we’re really giving God time and space to work? When my head is preoccupied with how to reach what I think lies ahead, I lose my willingness to serve God and my heart becomes less fixated on him. Instead, I should be confident that God’s great love will be enough and His plans will satisfy.

Standards are just unfair. They’re unfair to God. They’re unfair to our friends and family. They’re unfair to ourselves.

My plan is to drop my sense of entitlement, my idealistic nature, my standards. I plan to follow Christ and fixate on what He has called me, as a follower of Him, to do on this earth. I plan to pray when I don’t know what action to make next and to meditate on His words when life seems unfair.

But let me give you this, all you fellow idealists, you can dwell on the perfect, beyond-ideal nature of our God and the Promise of Heaven that is in store for us when our time comes.


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