Ignoring imperfections can be very hard for us perfectionists. I pride myself on doing things right and being efficient with every second of the day. That trait creates horror though; when I mess up. My wife was disgusted with me as I packed my travel bag for this business trip to Dallas this week. It took less than a minute total! It takes her days to pack for a vacation; I love to show her up with my tremendous perfect system of packing for travel. I proudly tossed the travel bag back in the closet after filling it with three nights of clothes and certainly everything I would need for my business meetings and even a dip in the pool.
After arriving at the hotel I planned for my upcoming dinner meeting and all others by hanging my shirts and pants in the closet with the sock and undies hung with each shirt that would be needed for each wake up call. I reached through the bag and found the belt, right where it should be, and paired it with the shoes I would set on the dresser ready to go. Blood rushed to my head and a taste of my Italian sub from the Charlotte airport Quiznos popped in my mouth upon the discovery of: ONE BLACK AND ONE BURGUNDY SHOE! How could I screw up like that?
I quickly retraced my packing routine steps from the night before. There is no way I put two shoes with different colors in the bag. Cindy must have played a practical joke on me, how dare she, this is a business trip. Wait no, she wouldn’t do that, it must have been the dog that mixed them up. Well, crap, I goofed I told myself, it happens to the best of us. At least one was for the left foot and one for the right, I laughed.
I had very little time to make it to dinner so I thought of all my options for buying a pair of shoes. Perhaps after dinner there would be enough time to find a shoe store. It was only 30 minutes until dinner time and doubtful we would be finished before the stores close. With Dallas traffic the odds would be slim of having time to find a shoe store. But I was rapidly becoming consumed with fixing the issue. I quickly dressed and headed towards Pappadeuax’s for our dinner meeting and hoped the unreliable gps would get me there and maybe God would provide an out for this ‘horrible’ mistake and not only give me some extra time, but He will also put a shoe store right next to the eatery.
Irritation gathered in my entire being as the traffic was bumper to bumper on every inch of black top (duh, it is Dallas at 5:30, what did I expect?) and the gps was guiding me in what seemed the wrong direction. Mapquest said I was 3 miles from the place yet already my odometer showed I had traveled 4.6 miles (yes of course I look at the odometer, and of course I made a printed mapquest in addition to using the gps, who doesn’t?) . What neither accounted for was the fact when it said turn left, if you get in the wrong left turn lane, you will be back on the 78 lane highway going the opposite direction in non-moving traffic. I could see Pappadeuax’s on the right. That is; to the right on the service road, while I was on the highway. The only way to get there is to slowly crawl through all the traffic, exit on the right, turn left again, and go all the way to the next exit, and turn left again. And I mumbled to myself, this time from the correct turn left lane, so I don’t make the same idiotic and stupid mistake again!
It dawned on me I had already made the same mistake with the turn lanes twice, no wonder the odometer showed more miles than expected. I began to think not so good thoughts about the designers of the Dallas highway system, and google maps for not being more precise in the direction giving. And now I was going to be late for my dinner meeting, something I hate to do, being late is one of those pet peeves.
I finally arrived at the restaurant, only 10 minutes late, but it seemed like I was 6 hours late according to my stress meter. The idea of buying shoes was totally out of the question. I rushed in to the restaurant and found my colleague. He informed me that he had just received a call from our dinner date, they would be 30 minutes late. Had I known that I could have looked for shoes, wouldn’t have been stressed about the traffic, and could have been calm and cool. Why do these things happen?????
The next morning I found myself awake much earlier than expecting or wanting. I had hoped to sleep in since our meeting was late morning. Instead I was consumed with what to do about the non-matching shoes. So I hopped in the car and drove through the morning rush hour traffic of Dallas on a mission to find a pair of shoes. I asked Siri where the nearest ‘shoe store’ was and she provided me information on ‘Juicers’. I chuckled at the reply and chucked the phone across the rental car. (well not really, but I wanted to) After about 15 minutes of navigating I found the mall which had just opened its doors.
I made my way to a couple of stores and began a shoe hunt. I hate buying anything especially when I don’t need it and for dress shoes I have a number of specifics to meet. Right size, right color, right style, slip on to take them off easily through the TSA line and right price. Store one no go. Store two no go. Store three no go. Time was slipping away, and I realized not only had I not found a single pair of shoes I liked, I had yet to find one in my size, 11.5. 11’s are too small, and 12’s too big, there is no way I was buying a pair that did not fit, no way. At store four, I finally found a pair that fit all the criteria, one single pair. They were $110. I decided then and there, no way do I need this stupid pair of shoes, especially for $110.
I opted to wear the odd shoe pair and head to my meetings. At the end of the days of meetings I met with several people throughout the whole time. It turned out that not a single one of them noticed I was wearing shoes that did not match!
After all was said and done I looked back and realized that I can let the smallest imperfections mess with my head in a royal fashion. How foolish is it to let that happen to ourselves. I have not posted a blog in four weeks, although I have 3/4th written five of them. The thought of writing something publicly and not having it be perfect has instead caused me to do nothing.
The fear of not looking good stops many of us from achieving and sometimes functioning period. We fear criticism. We fear making a bad decision. We fear negative opinions from people. And mostly we fear self-criticism and beat ourselves up for making mistakes. As I pondered my thoughts the past couple days, I realized how foolish it was to let the smallest thing fill my thoughts and waste a bunch of energy cycles and time running around trying to resolve a problem that didn’t need resolving.
Of course we are saturated with negativity on a minute by minute basis. Reading Facebook alone tells us that the world is falling apart and everyone is out to get us. How people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton handle the constant barrage of garbage strewn at them without breaking down is beyond my comprehension. But I can’t solve all of the world’s problems for others who are under attack and attacking people with criticism. I can however control my own.
Here’s to ignoring our own imperfections and cutting at least a little slack to others.
Psalm 139 speaks for itself about how God knows us, sees us, and believes in us. He accepts us for the way we are. Perhaps your mistakes go much deeper than packing the wrong shoes and it is really hard to ignore. Still, we can look at ourselves as ones where God thinks nothing but ‘precious thoughts about me’. In the difficulties of everyday life we forget that God’s presence is not only everywhere, but for a believer of Jesus Christ, He is present in our hearts. Only when we allow flaws, errors, sins (gasp), mistakes, and fears to control our thoughts is that one-ness with Him broken.
And the broken relationship is one-sided. When we focus on our imperfections, we miss the fact that God already knows all about them. If I believe in what Jesus’ did on the cross for me and His Spirit lives in me I do get a reminder that yes I blew it. But the restoration of that one-ness with Him does not require fretting, worrying, and taking every thought we have to fix the problem. It requires stopping the downward spiral and asking for help and/or forgiveness, accepting it, and moving on quickly. God wants to spend every moment conversing with us while we drive down that street looking for the restaurant, but we get distracted when we miss a turn or the gps sends us the wrong way. Or when another driver pulls a stupid move and we talk through the car window about their position in our mind, the only one hearing that curse is God Himself.
He is not concerned with that nonsense! Like a Father holding a newborn baby, the little bit of puke they spit up on the shoulder is of no concern. So it is with God towards us. He ignores those imperfections. If He chooses to ignore our imperfections, how much more should we?
O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. 2 You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. 3 You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. 4 You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord. 5 You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!
7 I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence! 8 If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. 9 If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, 10 even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— 12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day. Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! 18 I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!