Imperfection

Lynn’s mother was,
in many ways, charming.
She was also,
in as many ways,
an accomplished perfectionist.
Not surprisingly,
she and Lynn had their difficulties
through the years.
When her mother became seriously ill,
Lynn arranged to spend extended periods
at her mother’s side, half a continent away.
At first things went well—
they were pleased to be together
after many years of being apart.
But eventually old patterns emerged.
Lynn felt she couldn’t do much that was right
in her role as a caregiver,
no matter how hard she tried.
Terribly frustrated and distraught,
Lynn went to see a counselor.
“I can’t measure up,” she said,
“to my mother’s sense of perfection.
I’m always falling short.”
The counselor asked, “What are your options?”
“As I see it, there are only two:
perfection and imperfection.
I can keep trying to be perfect,
or,” Lynn said, almost laughing,
“I can strive for imperfection.”
Said the counselor with a smiling nod,
“Bingo.”

Striving for imperfection is not at all
the same as settling for mediocrity
in our roles as caregivers.
To strive for imperfection means to let go
of pursuing impossibly high standards,
ones that no human being
can meet without fail.
Rather than working feverishly to achieve
the ideal of spotlessness,
might we not aim for allowing
a few spots to appear here and there?
Rather than imposing incessant orderliness,
why not endeavor to accept—
perhaps even to welcome—
some casual disorder now and then?
Rather than chasing flawlessness,
why not relax a bit and resolve to admit
a random flaw in how we do our work
without becoming horribly upset?
Rather than letting someone dictate
what’s impossible for us to achieve—
knowing that “someone” might be us—
why not let ourselves dabble
with our natural, God-given fallibility?
Why not sometimes favor inexactness
where exactness matters not at all?
Why not choose to be hopelessly human,
realizing that’s actually the same—
some would say perfectly the same—
as being hopefully, blissfully, genuinely human?

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One Response to “Imperfection”

  1. Susan Says:

    Dear Jim, Thanks for this, it seems that God is using your blog to minister to me and I really appreciate it. I struggle with being way imperfect and not meeting my own standards never mind anyone else’s! Sincerely, Susan
    P.S. I have a “place”! It’s just a landing in front of the attic stairs but I fixed it up and put nice curtains on the window, a rocking chair and small table for my Bible and some tea. I love it and my husband says he wants his own space now. Thanks again.

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