Life is not perfect and we all know it. Most of us do not live our lives with that realization however. When something does not go as planned we say things like "how could this have happened", or "I had it all under control until... ". We get upset, disappointed, or possibly angry. This disappointment or anger could be directed at an acquaintance, a total stranger, or even ourselves. Maybe you have no idea where to direct these feelings. Take for example your brand new $50,000 car that was scratched in the parking lot. You don't know exactly how it may have happened or who may have been involved, so who do you get angry at. What do you do with these feelings? Maybe you have failed to accomplish a project in a specific time frame, and now you have feelings of complete incompetence. It simply did not go as you had planned. What do you do? Do you crawl into a hole and never attempt similar projects again? Like I said, life is not perfect.
I have been recently doing some remodel work at the home we will be moving back into soon. Okay, maybe I have mostly been watching the contractors do the work. Of course it is pretty normal for my wife and I to want the remodel to come out just "perfect", right. However, I was recently upset and disappointed by something I saw in the house. The painter did a fantastic job, and everything was looking good with the tile work in the bathrooms, but as I was getting ready to leave the house I stood in the living room and noticed the top part of the wall where it meets the ceiling by the entryway was noticeably not square. Mind you, this is not an area that was part of the remodel. I said to myself "you've got to be kidding me, we might as well just tear this whole house down and start from scratch". Yes, I know that sounds a little over dramatic, but that is actually how I felt at first. After a few seconds I was able to somehow say to myself "that's okay, it gives the house character". I do not know exactly how I was able to change my thoughts and attitude about the situation so quickly, but it probably had to do with the fact that tearing the house down was not an option. However, I can tell you that I went home and slept very well that night. How about you? What is that imperfection that has you anxious and keeps you up at night?
I do not want anyone to misunderstand what I am saying here. When I am promoting the idea of “peace with imperfection,” I am not saying we should not strive to be our best or put forth our best efforts to have our desired outcomes. I am simply asking, what do we do when life disappoints and something happens that is simply out of your control?
I would like to offer three suggestions below that I hope can have a positive impact on your life when things don’t go as planned and you may be struggling to find your “peace with imperfection.”
Have you ever thought about the relationship that you have with yourself? Is it a good relationship? Is it bad, or possibly indifferent? It makes sense to me that you would want a good, or even great relationship with yourself, especially given the fact that we are constantly around. Even if we really wanted, we cannot simply snap a finger and just get away from ourselves.
I would like to share an illustrative story that I recently heard from a pastor, and it goes something like this: There was an attractive young woman who went on a dinner date with a man, and by all accounts it went very well. He was tall and handsome, and an all around perfect gentleman who even opened doors for her. At the end of the date they both shared how they both enjoyed the evening and would like to go on another date in the near future. The next day the young woman was so excited she just had to call her closest friend and share how great the date was. After about 10 minutes of gushing to her friend about how great he was, she asked her friend if she thought she was gonna get a call from him in the next few days to set up their second date. Her friend proceeded to tell her “well, I don’t know if you should expect a call from him at all, I mean if you really think about it why would he. You need to be more realistic, I mean what do you really have to offer that is so great. You have a dead-end job, drive around a 20 year old car that is on its last legs, and admit it, you really need to drop about 30 pounds.” Her “close friend” continued, “I have known you since we were children, and you really are not as fun as you think you are. Oh, and those clothes that you are wearing, weren’t those in style like 5 years ago or something. So no, I do not think he is going to ever call you back for a second date.” Wow. I’m sure you are thinking with friends like that, who needs enemies. But if you think about it, we are all guilty at times of speaking to ourselves this way. And I think that is a pretty horrible friend.
The definition of friend is; a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance, a supporter, and someone who is not hostile. Our relationships with others is so important, but I believe that the relationship that we have with ourselves is even greater. I would like to list 4 actions below that I believe you should start right away so you can begin to be your own best friend.
Everywhere I turn I keep hearing the phrase “just follow your heart," and lately it just makes me absolutely cringe. On television, in the movies, or in real life, this phrase continues to be used as so-called advice to someone who is unsure about a major decision in their life. Many times the decision is about a relationship, but it does not necessarily have to be. Maybe the decision is about the purchase of a new home, or what college you will attend. More commonly though, it will have something to do with entering into a relationship or a new phase of a relationship. I know this may not be the popular thing to say, but I would suggest NOT to follow your heart. You might ask why I would say this. Well, I simply believe that our heart is very capable of deceiving us and cannot be fully trusted. Beyond that, when someone says that they are going to follow their heart, I think they are really saying that they are going to follow their feelings. I definitely think this is a mistake. I think we all know that our feelings are very fickle and can change like the wind. If you are someone who has always followed your feelings and had great success with that, by all means feel free to ignore my two cents worth of advice.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not suggesting that we do not pursue our passions. In fact, what we are passionate about oftentimes leads us to a more purposeful life. What I am saying though is that many of our decisions require much more than the simplistic approach of “just follow your heart.”
So what should we do -
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