Tonight as I was driving home, I started thinking as I rode in my daughter's former Miata. The Miata was actually my sister, Linda's former car as well...and it is a 1991 model that still runs beautifully. Big Dave will not part with it, nor will I let him. It needs a paint job and the stereo comes in and out, but those are easily remedied when Big Dave quits working 16 hour days. To me, the car is perfect just as it is. When the wind is in my hair, and I'm getting an incredible number of miles to the gallon...I'm happy. Knowing that it was once driven regularly by two of my favorite people makes me smile.
Oh, I could focus on what needs to be fixed, but I learned a long time ago that perfection is highly overrated. It is also quite the cruel taskmaster. I figured that if I was focused on being perfect at something...I was never going to actually get anything done. So, I try for excellence, but left the baggage associated with perfection somewhere around gate 22 of life, and never went back to reclaim it.
I read about different celebrities that are enhancing this or that yet can't seem to manage to live a life anywhere close to something I'd want to emulate. To me, part of the perfection of some people is their imperfections, actually. I figured that if I can accept their worst and still love them anyway...then perhaps the reverse is also true...and they can love me in spite of mine. Sometimes it is the one thing that someone can do exceedingly well that endears them to us, and other times it seems to be the things that they do that drive us crazy that are the most memorable about them as time goes on. Life is funny like that.
My mother is a beautiful woman. She always has been. She is also one of those remarkably upbeat and nice people although she has been tagged with a curve ball or two in her life. She likes to laugh and she tends to see the good in people before she notes the bad but she has a keen eye for seeing things as they really are just the same. She loves to perform, and when she is on stage, she really is quite remarkable. It is fun to see her on stage because I actually buy into the fact that she is whatever character she is portraying. She's honestly that good. But she never tried to make me into her mold. Sometimes I think that she didn't understand me very well, but she loved me anyway and figured that I'd eventually land on my feet.
My sister is also a remarkable woman. She has always been one of those people that other people just adored. She has friends all over the country...and all over the world. She has traveled extensively, and has been a resident of France for the better part of the past decade. Challenges don't really bother her, and little things like language barriers and a house full of stepchildren never stopped her from following her heart. She is now the mother to two incredibly beautiful children and she makes an effort to make sure that they understand that they are not only French citizens...but American citizens as well. She dreams of them having a broad education...with the best of their two worlds...and she enthusiastically celebrates every holiday in France...even those that the French do not recognize. The effort that she puts in to each of these celebrations is beyond amazing.
I also have an awesome daughter. She is not only beautiful, but she is a rational and loving person who will one day...although she isn't rushing it...be a terrific wife and mother. She is enjoying being young but she knows that she is edging closer to adulthood and all that brings every day. She longs to have some of her life figured out because she wants to rest in the confidence of knowing that her dreams will come true. Don't we all. I just know that our family feels complete when she is home and like something is missing when she is in Tuscaloosa. She brings that much light.
As for me, I suppose that I am what Dr. Kevin Leman calls a "defeated perfectionist" in his "Birth Order Book" - which means that if I can't be perfect at something...I refuse to try. I'm not really afraid of failure, and I've relaxed my definition of perfect in recent years as I've trusted God to use me however He chooses. Sometimes that means that I'll discover a knack for something I didn't really know I could do because God gives me a peace about it. Other times, it turns into such a colossal failure that I learn to laugh about...eventually. Aren't we all pretty much like that, though?
Perfection is one of those unattainables for me, but I know it when I see it. In my family, I'm surrounded by people who have perfect aspects and who make my life so much richer than it would have been without them. I have friends who say the perfect words at the perfect time...and I have a relationship with the One who is perfect in all ways. I suppose that in time...I'll also have two perfect children of the heart to love in addition to the two that God gave Big Dave and me that we are trying to raise properly.
Today I am hoping for a perfect day. A day where I am able to focus on the work that He has given me to do, and where my spirit is at peace. One of those glorious days where I can drive the Miata around with the top down and feel the sunshine on my skin and the breeze in my hair. Or I can hear the laughter of those wonderful women in my family on the other end of a phone or charging through my memories as my grandmother's spirit tends to do. I can only hope that I'll be able to take the less than perfect parts of my life and make them into something beautiful and productive. And that my friends will notice...and give me the confidence to keep trying by their wonderful words of grace.