I've been helping my girlfriend decorate her new house and while driving today in traffic, my mind wandered to one of my visits a few weeks ago.
Her six year old came home from school and bounded into their craft room, setting up her own "school" to play with her little sister. She was the teacher and was orchestrating the classroom in a very orderly fashion, wanting the four year old to follow her directions implicitly. I would mediate from time to time as I was in the room, but for the most part, I was concentrating on organizing this precious space for them.
All of a sudden, Francesca, frustrated with Sofia's effervescence - and lack of cooperation with her older sister's teaching methods - started howling. I was a bit startled and exclaimed, "Francesca, what's wrong?"
"I just wanted one perfect day to play. And it's not working. Sofia won't do what I ask, and I just want it to be PERFECT!!!"
She continued sobbing until I distracted her with another activity. And while I made sympathetic clucking noises as we adult sometimes do, trying to explain that her little sister might have different ideas of how to have fun, I really wanted to scoop her up on my lap and tell her my story....
How I always strove for perfection, only to be always disappointed...
How I didn't think anything was worth doing if I couldn't do it perfectly, so I missed out on opportunity after opportunity...
How I thought I wasn't worth anything for oh, so many years because nothing I did could live up to my own unrealistic standards.
(You can't exactly start philosophically reasoning with a six year old, ya know?)
But she's been on my heart lately.
I recognized that internal pull of pressure already
in her sweet little 1st grade life,
and it's taken me back.
I want to wrap my arms around her and say,
"Please don't make my mistake of waiting until you're 40 to change your expectation of yourself. Chasing perfect will never get you anywhere except miserable. Because nothing is ever perfect even at its best. For the closest you'll ever get, precious child, is leaning on Him in the mess and the expectation then going where He leads you. Because it's in these messy, chaotic, unpredictable moments when you must trust. And there in the chaos you'll finally realize, His grace is enough."
Oh, to be able to talk to my six year old self again.
To give the insight that I know now.
How life would be different.
But I can't go back.
The best I can do (because it will never be perfect, right?)
is shine His light in my heart for ALL to see....
and yes, even the very youngest of the young....
in the hopes that all will see the light of His grace,
stop chasing perfect,
and follow Him.