You Are Not Perfect Just the Way You Are

Regis Nicoll
Regis Nicoll

Has someone ever told you that you are perfect just the way you are? It’s a lie. Ask actor Chris Pratt who told a crowd at the MTV Movie Awards, “You are imperfect. You always will be.” And deep down we know it. Every time we feel a twinge of guilt, shame, or plain misgiving over something we’ve said or done we betray a gnawing sense that we are not what we should be.

So what to do?

Fixing Us
According to folks who take naturalism seriously, we are creations of Nature by biochemical processes that direct our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors along deterministic paths amenable to scientific investigation, prediction, and intervention.

Richard Dawkins has gone as far as to claim that we are genetic robots mechanically responding to the “desires” of selfish genes. Such thinking motivates the ongoing efforts to discover the genetic “causes” for sexual preference and bio-physical “remedies” for anti-social behaviors and mental illness.

For example, education advocate Stacey DeWitt credits Darwinian processes for child bullying, as does psychologist David Buss for adultery. Dr. Thomas Insel, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, attributes “faulty circuits” in the brain for depression and various mood disorders.

Insel muses that treating mental illness may be “akin to ‘rebooting’ a computer that has become frozen.” His expectation is that our “science-based understanding of mental illness very likely will revolutionize prevention and treatment.”

In the “machine view” of human nature, improving the human condition is a matter of treating defective parts, scientifically and impersonally.

Against that view are a couple of Duke University neuroscientists. In 2010 Drs. Terrie Moffitt and Avshalom Caspi received an award for their research on the influences of genes and environment on human behavior. The summary of their key finding is that “you can’t choose your genes, but you face many choices in life which can determine how those genes will play out.” (Emphasis added.)

The late Bill Wilson would agree.

Wilson was a hardened atheist and struggling alcoholic who was frequently hospitalized for his addiction. It was during his fourth hospital stay that Wilson, at the end of himself, raised his voice in desperation, “If there be a God, let him show himself!”

Wilson would later say of the experience: “Suddenly my room blazed with an indescribably white light… I was seized with an ecstasy beyond description. Every joy I had known was pale by comparison.”

The following day a friend and recovering alcoholic convinced Wilson that surrendering to God was the only thing that could emancipate him from the grip of the bottle. That became the vision for the organization Bill Wilson founded over 75 years ago, Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Success Secrets
At the core of AA’s method is its “12-Step” program. Of the program, addiction-specialist Drew Pinsky states, “In my 20 years of treating addicts, I’ve never seen anything else that comes close to the 12 steps,” adding, “In my world, if someone says they don’t want to do the 12 steps, I know they aren’t going to get better.”

While the 12-Step program has been credited by millions of addicts for saving theirs lives, its effectiveness is a mystery to many observers.

Against our “science-based understanding, there is the acknowledgement of a higher Power, God.

Against the culture of self-esteem and personal power, there’s the call for surrender to God and change through submission and prayer.

Against the view of man as a genetic machine, there’s the requirement to acknowledge and confess moral failures and make amends to those hurt.

Against go-it-alone individualism, AA is a community of “one-anothers” built on trust, accountability, and mentoring.

Another organization has remarkably similar features: surrendering to God, confessing our sins, reconciling with our neighbor, growing in maturity through the spiritual disciplines, and fellowship in the community of faith. And, like AA, many of its members credit those “steps” with their salvation not only in the here-and-now, but in the yet-to-come. Continue reading here.

Originally published June 26, 2018.

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