Our Un-Godly Expectation Of Perfection!


It wasn’t always made exact. Sometimes the pillow laid crooked across the bed and the sheets weren’t even on both sides. In my hurry to school the covers were often tossed up and didn’t look the best. Yet, I don’t recall my Mother scolding me about my “imperfect” bed. As a teenage boy, I am sure that the way I cleaned the downstairs bathroom left room for improvement. But I can’t remember my Mother making an issue of it. I remember well mowing the lawn for what seemed like my entire life. But no memory remains of being brought outside and having my parents point out the deficiencies of the cut. In fact, I don’t recall my parents being critical of any of the chores I did around the house. As children my parents had expectations of us,  but perfection was not one of them.  The benefit of this type of parenting, of course, was that in doing my chores I did so with the understanding that, while not perfectly done, it was never expected to be such. It is nice to have things done “perfectly” but more often than not, the definition of “perfect” is subject to personal taste. I do know that doing chores was something I never wanted to do, but it was made “tolerable” by parents who didn’t expect perfection out of an “imperfect” son.

These memories were brought to mind as I re-read the words of  Jeffrey Holland from a talk he gave in 2007.

“We must be so careful in speaking to a child. What we say or don’t say, how we say it and when is so very, very important in shaping a child’s view of himself or herself. But it is even more important in shaping that child’s faith in us and their faith in God. Be constructive in your comments to a child—always. Never tell them, even in whimsy, that they are fat or dumb or lazy or homely. You would never do that maliciously, but they remember and may struggle for years trying to forget—and to forgive. And try not to compare your children, even if you think you are skillful at it. You may say most positively that “Susan is pretty and Sandra is bright,” but all Susan will remember is that she isn’t bright and Sandra that she isn’t pretty. Praise each child individually for what that child is, and help him or her escape our culture’s obsession with comparing, competing, and never feeling we are “enough. In all of this, I suppose it goes without saying that negative speaking so often flows from negative thinking, including negative thinking about ourselves. We see our own faults, we speak—or at least think—critically of ourselves, and before long that is how we see everyone and everything. No sunshine, no roses, no promise of hope or happiness. Before long we and everybody around us are miserable” (The Tongue of Angels, GC, April 2007).

There really is nothing that drives out the spirit quicker than harsh words spoken in the home. Oft times it is over things that are just not that important. I once spoke with a man who was very talented but his intolerance for others he worked with of lesser talent created feelings of discord and dissension. Despite counsel, he never really understood the message, which is, that a perfect gift packaged in contention, was of a lesser value to the Lord, than an “imperfect” gift given in joy and unity. Yes, I believe my parents mirrored the Lord in allowing “imperfect” work from an “imperfect” son.  In fact, I’m sure of it! Why else would God have sent a Savior if we were expected to be perfect!



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