Once upon a time there was a little girl who loved life so much that she thought her heart was going to burst. From the moment she could speak, she formed conversation with anyone who would listen and laughed audibly at the things around her that tickled her heart. With average looks and grades she grew through childhood feeling like she was on top of the world because she had a family that loved her and a personality that would take her far.
The circumstances of her life changed as she grew and suddenly she was forced into a world that demanded no less than perfection in many aspects of her life. Forced to devote her time and pour her soul into the things that were demanded of her, it didn’t take long for the joy of life to fade as her heart’s song was silenced. I watched as someone that should have morphed into a carefree, trusting, loving adult was stripped of all willingness to believe in the authenticity of human good will.
Time and time we hear it. The person complaining about something not being quite right because they are a “perfectionist”. A parent yelling at their child for not scoring a goal in soccer. A friend that doesn’t pursue her life’s dream because she’s afraid of failure. The runner that doesn’t enter a race because he’s not good enough, not fast enough. A girl too afraid to accept a proposal because she fears that the guy isn’t “perfect”.
Well here’s the deal. There is no such thing as perfection. Not in my lifetime, and not in yours. Regardless of temperament, religion or lifestyle, we all carry the burden of needing/wanting things in our life to be perfect. The problem is that we spend so much energy and time focusing on the things that aren’t, that we bypass the opportunity to fully embrace the things that are “perfect” in a sense, for us.
Your House will never be perfect. Even if you don’t have children to clean up after, there will always be a plumbing issue or leaky roof. Paint that’s chipping or a furnace that needs to be replaced.
My sister’s gift has never been keeping a tidy living space. Growing up, my mom would go nuts every Saturday cleaning and organizing my sister’s room because she couldn’t stand how messy it would get. Now as a wife and mother of three, my sister still doesn’t claim to have the cleanest house. What she does have, however, is a family that is loved and extends love to all those who come by. Friends gather for bonfires in the back yard and kids run around freely enjoying the ability to truly LIVE in a home rather than tip-toeing so as not to mess anything up. My sister’s house is a place where people come in and plop down on the couch, feeling comfortable and right at home. I remind myself of that each time I get upset about the imperfections of my house. The crayon marks on the walls aren’t worth more of my attention than the little people that put them there in the first place. The messy rooms that I hound the kids about constantly aren’t preventing them from living a life that’s full of love. Full of life. My house isn’t perfect. It doesn’t have to be. It’s a home where love abounds and that’s as close to perfection as it needs to be.
Your Body will never be perfect. You can follow the best diet and most disciplined work-out regimen, but whether it be your weight, a birth mark you’ve always loathed, or a disease growing inside of you, your body will fail you. It will let you down.
My issues with my body are like those of most women in America today. Regardless of my love of running and my reasonable diet, I am never happy with it. There is always something that could be better, something that I’d be happier about if I could change. I constantly have to remind myself that I am, as Stana Katic puts it, a vessel of blood and water walking around this earth. Whatever purpose I am to serve during my time here, my looks and my ability (or lack thereof) to do something perfectly will have no impact on whether or not I am making this world a better place. Instead of wasting so much time on vanity, I should channel that energy into an effort to help better the life of someone else. Whether it be my children or a person I have yet to meet, there are people who will need something that only I can give them and I want to have my eyes open and fixed on that opportunity rather than being so stuck on myself that I’m blinded in that moment of their need.
Your Family and Friends will never be perfect. They will love you, but they will let you down. They will be there for you, and then they won’t. They will bestow the gift of laughter, but bring moments of tears. They are human. They are imperfect.
The people in my life are amazing. I feel constantly blessed by the amount of love and friendship I’ve been able to experience. It would be unnatural and impossible, however, to constantly be pleased by those around us. We cannot depend on others for the gift of hope and satisfaction that can only be acquired by our ability to realize that we’re all just doing the best that we can. So often I hear words that cause me to cringe. Judgement. Unrealistic expectations. Negativity. It’s a part of every relationship regardless of how good it is. We are flawed and we will let each other down, but we also have the ability to reach outside of ourselves and lift each other up. Our relationships will never be perfect, but we can work to make them as close to that ideal as possible.
Life is not perfect. Turn on the news. Take a mission trip to Africa. Go downtown at 2 am and look at the world as it really is when you are usually tucked into the warmth of your bed. The world is flawed, and so too are we humans that inhabit it. We can’t make it perfect. We’re not supposed to. But we can make it better. By accepting the imperfection we can place more emphasis on the areas of need and want. By acknowledging that it’s ok for a child not to be perfect, we can better enjoy the experience of discovering their talents and their desires. After realizing that our friendships and families will always be littered with imperfect issues and moments, we can move on to the phase of filling them with good and better ones. Instead of beating ourselves down about the problem areas of our bodies, we should make an effort to discover the parts of ourselves that make us unique. We should uncover our talents and use them for good.
A life lived chasing a goal that can never be achieved, is a sad life to live. A life lived experiencing the beauty in the here and now, however, is a beautiful life, one to savor and one to look back and smile upon one day when breathing the last of it.