Living With Imperfection Or ‘You Missed A Spot!’


Many years ago I had the assignment to clean the meetinghouse with a few other church members. I ended up vacuuming most of the building. At one point, I worked beside a sister in my congregation. She was cleaning the door windows of the foyer. On our meetinghouse, there are double glass door entryways on each side of the building. She was kind enough to hold the inside door open for me as I vacuumed between the inside and outside doors. As I did so we chatted. After a few minutes of small talk she said with a smile, “I don’t want to act like I am your wife, but you missed a spot! She then pointed out a place in the entryway I had missed. I smiled back at her, and we both chuckled. It was almost as if we both knew what the other was thinking.

I finished the job and turned off the vacuum. Then I said to her, “You know, my wife used to do that to me all the time when we were first married. But she doesn’t do it anymore. She has learned to accept the “imperfect” job that I do and in so doing, I feel good because I really am doing the best I can. And she feels good because she has learned that is the optimum effort I have to offer. And over time, I am getting better.” She laughed and said, “I know, I used to be that way with my kids. I was always mad at them because they never seemed to clean their rooms to my satisfaction or do chores around the house as thoroughly as I thought they should. And there was always contention. Then one day I just decided that it wasn’t worth it. I needed to be less demanding of perfection and more accepting of their attempts at excellence. In the end, the most important thing was accepting that having the cleanest house was not more important than having a loving relationship with my children.”

Instinctively, both of us knew that being impatient with others is not a good thing. Some might think that if you allow a “second-rate” job, you are encouraging “second-rate” behavior. But, I like what Neil A. Maxwell had to say regarding patience. He said:

“Patience… is…a friend to free agency. Inside our impatience there is sometimes an ugly reality: We are plainly irritated and inconvenienced by the need to make allowances for the free agency of others. In our impatience, which is not the same thing as divine discontent, we would override others, even though it is obvious that our individual differences and preferences are so irretrievably enmeshed with each other that the only resolution which preserves free agency is for us to be patient and long-suffering with each other”. (“Patience, Nov. 1979, BYU Devotional).

We all desire patience from the Lord when it comes to our lives.  And “patience” is a Godly attribute! In fact Maxwell put it brilliantly in a way that only he can. He said:

“God’s attributes of omniscience and omnipotence no doubt made the plan of salvation feasible. But it was his perfect love which made the plan inevitable. And it is his perfect patience which makes it sustainable!”

Patience is an attribute of God! He lovingly waits for us to become like Him. He encourages and even commands. But when He does so, he does so with patience. He knows that our growth will come with time. All of us can benefit from developing a little more patience in this life, for others, for ourselves and with God. My experience cleaning the building was just a simple reminder to me and my ward sister, that it is more beneficial and more Godly to look for the goodness and efforts of others rather than looking for the “missed spot.”

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