The Perception of Perfection

While walking out to my truck the other day after work, my attention was drawn to a disgusting white puddle in the alley.  As I stepped over it making sure not to get any on my shoes, I had to smile sheepishly to myself.  You see, I had accidentally created that white puddle earlier in the day.   I had to wonder: “why do I take myself so seriously?”  I see people all the time who are always trying to put on a false front and wear a mask of perfection.  To what end?  Is anybody really perfect?  Is anyone actually fooled into believing I don’t make any mistakes if I always look good?  We can go to great lengths to try to hide the real person behind the mask but what will that gain us?  The truth has a weird way of coming out anyway.  Would life not be a lot easier if we could drop the facade and just be who we really are?  I look at little kids and for the most part, what you see is what you get, then around the early teen years they are somehow pressured into being acting perfect.   It’s sad to see those innocent little ones growing up to be posers just like us.

Just recently I was made aware of someone on Facebook who publicly took responsibility for her mistake.  Everyone was able to laugh with her and it put a positive spin on the whole incident.  I was challenged by that person being able to hold her head up high and say: “look at the big mess I made!”

When my wife and I started working in kids ministry about 12 years ago, our church brought in a husband & wife team who had many years of experience and they said something I don’t think I will ever forget.  “If you want to successfully connect with kids, you don’t have to learn all the right things to say, you don’t have to learn how to be perfect, you simply need to be able to get up in front of a group of kids and be willing to make and idiot of yourself.”  There is something in all of us that connects with someone who is vulnerable.  I like to see that I’m not the only person in the world who makes mistakes, and that others have struggles too.  We are naturally drawn to people who are confident enough to be able to laugh at themselves once in a while.

Human nature tends to think that if I let others see my mistakes, they will think less of me.  The opposite is more often true.  I remember vividly one evening after my dad came home from work, he asked to speak with me and I thought I was in major trouble once again.  As I was mentally checking off a list of possible offenses, I was shocked to realize that he was apologizing to me for the way he had responded to me the evening before.  I couldn’t believe it.  My dad who I always thought was perfect, was asking my forgiveness.  Did it make me think less of him?  Not in the least!  It impressed upon me that he valued his relationship with me more than the perception of perfection.  (Thanks for that lesson, Dad.)  “Everyone makes mistakes, but it takes a real man to stand up and admit he was wrong.”

So, what happened to me on that morning?  I was pushing a cart full of fresh-baked goodies to take to our South Bend store and I cut the corner too sharp heading into the alley.  Both containers filled with pans slid off my cart and ended up sideways in the middle of the alley.  The first thing I did was glance self-consciously in every direction to make sure no one had seen it happen.  Fortunately it wasn’t fully daylight yet, so I assumed nobody had noticed, but I decided I should quickly pick everything up before anybody did see it.  At first everything seemed uninjured until I got to a pan of pumpkin torte.  The lid had come off and almost all of the whipped topping had splattered into the street.  I got everything loaded while still trying to avoid any witnesses.  The only proof being a pan full of mush and a white puddle on the black top. I briefly considered having the pan mysteriously disappear during transit, but decided to face the music and I took the pan of orange glob back into the kitchen to confess to our baking staff.  I got a bit of kindhearted teasing the next few days but I could tell they were glad to see that even the boss makes mistakes.  It wasn’t until later that day, that I wished I would have taken a picture of the mess right after it happened, but I had been too concerned with trying to cover up my mess before it was noticed.

Challenge: be more willing to admit my mistakes and possibly even laugh at myself once in a while.