Mostly, I am able to muster up a positive, optimistic attitude. Sometimes the day just dang gets me though. This week contained one of those days. You know…the quest for perfection is an ugly monster.
Last week’s bi-annual eye specialist appointment was a bit discouraging. I knew, looking out from the inside, that something was not quite the same. As I suspected, my vision is slightly worse than it was six months ago. From where I sit, my vision is a little blurrier and it is harder to stay focused. No perfection there. I have had to cut back on activities that require deliberate focusing of my eyes. (This activity being one of those things!)
That whole reality didn’t affect me overly until the middle of the week. I had a project that I worked on a few years ago. It was a twelve page booklet to be used with a prayer group. It contained scripture and basic instructions on developing a specific prayer time. I have been wanting to dig it back up and repurpose it for a new prayer ministry. I finally found it on my computer and printed it out. The way it was printed, it took some creative splicing to get it in order. I did the best that I could to put the booklet together so I could show it to some folks that I hope will be interested in it.
Well, when I created the booklet a number of years ago, my mind clearly (I think, maybe…possibly) knew how to put it together so that it would read correctly from front to back. It took me hours to figure out how to get this small, twelve page booklet put back together. What was I thinking? Front pages and back pages that did not seem to match; one-sided and two-sides pages that didn’t make sense….which one went where?!? Once I finally got these pages moved around and taped together, and closed it up; I took one look at it and burst into tears.
This sad looking little booklet was so far from anything I would have ever let go from my hands to someone else’s hands in the past. Just ask my brothers! They used to come to me to get help with resumes. I would get their information entered and they would think that was all I needed to do. “OK, that is fine. Print it out,” they would say, ready to go on their way. But I knew better than that. I had to format and tweak and make sure there was proper white space on the page. The proper format for resumes had to be utilized. It had to be as perfect as I could make it. They would be standing behind me, begging me to be finished, just wanting to get on with the business of their day. I suppose you could say I was a little frustrating for them. As I looked through my little booklet this week — so very, very far from perfect, I could not fathom presenting this poor, mess of a document to anyone.
I was the same way in my work. My job was very detail oriented. I made myself crazy running down all of the possibilities for the details that needed to be verified. I spent many hours poring through pages and pages of computer code, looking for that one little piece of data that was not supposed to be there. The thing was, I could almost always find those issues, find the offending data and make sure that the applications we were working on were as perfect as possible. My quest for perfection drove a lot of people nuts!
I must confess, it was mostly the same way in my life in general. The quest for perfection comes often times from those that know they are far from perfection. I’ve never been the smartest; so I had to work smarter. I’ve never been the most talented; so I had to work harder. I’ve never been the most beautiful; so I had to make the best of what I have been blessed with. I haven’t always made the best of decisions; so I had to learn to improvise and clean up a few messes. I have always been tall and, well, big; so I generally tried to fit down, try to be seen less. I like being in the background. I am ashamed to say that my Christian life has not always been a shining example of what a follower of Christ should look like either; but I do know that I am forgiven! I am forgiven and given the chance, with each new day, to reach toward the perfection that is Christ; to work harder and smarter and make the best of my blessings, to take that stand and be big and bold to show Christ to others!
After my mini melt down, I took another look at the little booklet. Did it contain the information that I wanted to portray? Yes. Did the “pieced together version” flow in logical manner? Yes. Is this information going to be useful to help establish the group my heart is leaning in to? Yes. Now, is the booklet perfectly put together? No! The pages are bigger than the cover. The text is cut off at the top of some of the pages. The text is mushed together on some of the facing pages. The pages all seem to be different sizes. The corners do not match and the white space is waaayyyy off! Does it look pretty shabby? Yes! Am I OK with that? Yes! (Well, I am now anyhow.)
After I thought about it (post-attitude adjustment, of course,) I kind of started thinking that perfection is not something that any of us can attain. We are always going to have little blips and bloops that come up in our lives. I am never going to be able to see clearly enough to do the same type of detail-oriented activities that I used to be able to do. But can I do enough to get my ideas across to others that will be able to pick them up and run with them? Of course I can! I am still moving the puzzle pieces of my life around on the board and seeing that pieces I thought would absolutely fit in the middle are actually part of the border, and create a wall around the other activities that will fill the rest of my life.
So, am I going to pick up this uneven, awkward little booklet and take it with me tomorrow when I go to meet with my small group? That would be a yes! I am going to present my ideas verbally and use the little booklet to give an idea of the big picture I am trying to paint. I want to move forward, but I want to look back at the perfection that was Christ and attempt to model my life after the teachings that He left with us. And yes, I am sure that I will continue to attempt my new normal of perfection. Although I think I have grown a little this week and I think I may have a little more realistic view of it than I did before!
“I don’t mean that I am exactly what God wants me to be. I have not yet reached that goal. But I continue trying to reach it and make it mine. That’s what Christ Jesus wants me to do. It is the reason he made me his. Brothers and sisters, I know that I still have a long way to go. But there is one thing I do: I forget what is in the past and try as hard as I can to reach the goal before me. I keep running hard toward the finish line to get the prize that is mine because God has called me through Christ Jesus to life up there in heaven.” (Philippians 3:12-14)