Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Missing Shipment of Perfection

        “When will Perfection arrive?” I asked the man at the counter.
        “Lady, you’re asking me something that I don’t know.”
        We both shrugged our shoulders, and with a sigh I walked away. What a Father’s Day this was going to be. No Perfection could be had, any place, at any price. I knew it would be a perfect present, but now frustration mounted.
        Practically any man wants Perfection, I reminded myself. My own dad worked for years at strenuous jobs, preferring to be his own boss, even though that meant more planning, details, complications, and predictable stress. Growing up, there was no Perfection to be found on Northview Avenue, but we kids did try to make dad’s life easier by behaving ourselves.

        Then I met my husband. He didn’t have a supply of Perfection, either, but he had a very nice attitude about it. He worked at various jobs until he found his niche. He liked glimpses of Perfection from a tape measure, as well as a check book. Happiness was more important than Perfection for us.
        Several years later our first baby boy arrived. What a cute, chubby kid. It was fun to take care of him and play with him, but I was glad I hadn’t given him the middle name of Perfection. It would have been way too much for a little guy to carry around. Oh, he did well in school, graduated, got his driver’s license and a job.
        The next years seemed to go by much faster. My own occupation was a delightful experience, teaching third graders. I knew instinctively I would not find Perfection in my lesson plan book, nor in the comfortable room at school where I reigned as Queen, to the mutual delight of my motivated students.
        Of course, our family went to church. No matter where we lived there’d be a church of some kind not too far away. Here we did hear a lot about Perfection. Seems all those old people had tried to capture it, bottle it, and sell it, but no one was successful. Finally, one preacher hit the nail on the head. “No one,” he pronounced firmly, “can find Perfection in themselves or in other people. Only God is perfect.”
        Silence gripped the listeners in the pews. After a dramatic pause, Brother Pearson smiled and spoke clearly, “God will forgive our imperfections when we own up to them. That’s why Jesus came to be our Savior. His love is perfect, and that’s exactly what we need.”
        Makes sense, I agreed. I wanted to do better than I would ever be able to do. The goal of Perfection serves a purpose of making me pay attention, think more, try harder. And I encouraged it in others. Look what fun we can have when everyone does good things.
        Now, with only hours until Father’s Day arrives I wanted to give a gift that would mean a lot to each one in the family, especially to daddy, my husband, my son who grew up and got married and has a son of his own. A greeting card from the store would not do. It would not say enough.
        I wished I could improve the circumstances of life that each of these men faced. I wished I was perfect and could grant a heaping helping of Perfection for each of them.
         With honesty the truth dawned, painful at first, then more like a gentle prodding. Silly girl. Where was my thankfulness? God had brought each man through times of challenge and testing. But that was His gift of Opportunity. If we didn’t see a need we wouldn’t strive to do better. We couldn’t see our own hearts if our ego was in the way.
        And it is in that trying and doing, stumbling and getting up that we can receive God’s gift of Reminders. Here we learn forgiveness and thankfulness and kindness.
        So the Father’s Day present turned out to be a composition, personalized to say, “Do you remember when . . . ?” We shared some Reminders the Lord had sent to each of us. What we had sometimes missed, hurried by when growing up, we now find as meanings in the layers of time.
        To make the conversation complete we’d prompt each other, “So how did you manage to get that shipment of Perfection!” A good giggle now and then did wonders for Father’s Day.
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By Elaine Hardt ©2010