Thursday, May 1, 2014

I'm Not Perfect

I’m not perfect --- and neither is anyone else.  Why is that so hard for me to accept?
The guys I hired to do my yard work this spring needed the money.  They were older guys; construction work they do has been slow lately, they said.  I wrote out a long list of things they could do for me, and they thanked me and promised good work.
When they came back the next day to begin the work, they brought along two young men --- “they don’t have jobs and can use the money; we’ll supervise them closely.”  And I have to admit, I was impressed with all of their diligence and politeness.  And they all worked hard.
And that was the problem:  they weren’t doing the work as I would do it: more casually, less seriously, with less of a mind toward perfection.  They took their time to do things well.  As they wrapped up for the day I wanted to say:  “That’s all you got done?”  I knew that were I doing the work, I’d have been much further along.  But (thankfully) I stifled my thoughts.
After they left, I took a walk around the yard.  The hedge was trimmed as I instructed --- but all the dead branches and moldy mulch and sprouting weeds were cleaned out also.  (I guess I should have done that more often in past years – or, truthfully, even once.  : - )  )  The stepping stones leading into the yard, which were sunk down and largely covered with grass, now were raised and cleaned and were, well, they were stepping stones again.  (Huh, why didn’t I think to do that?)
And as they were finishing up for the day, my new helpers said that they couldn’t plant the shrub I had purchased for outside the kitchen window, to replace the one which had died over the harsh winter.  When I asked why they couldn’t plant it, they merely pointed and said:  “She won’t let us.”  And then I saw the nesting duck behind the existing shrub.  Well ….. I guess that was a pretty good excuse.

Later on, as I began my evening prayers, I thought on these things and my initial reactions.  I had wanted to tell the workmen that their efforts were not up to my standards.  “That’s not the way I would have done the job,” I might have said.  Or worse: “I could have done it better myself,” might have been my words.
And I think they would have been hurt.
I recently wrote about how we need to love our neighbors more.  And here I was, only a day later, thinking:  “Yeh, I’ll love my neighbor more ---- if he does things my way.” 
What was it that I wrote again, about love not focusing on what we receive, but what we give?  Having tried to do their best work, my criticism of the yard workers would not have been very loving on my part.  Perhaps if I had spoken my first thoughts, they would have left thinking: “What an old crab,” and then perhaps they might have not been as diligent on their next job, or worse, passed along my crabbiness to the next person they met.  You know … love does get passed along, but so does crabbiness.
Seeking to have the world exist as I wish it to exist is just another form of self-love, narcissism.  How easy it is to forget that.  Self-love isn’t just wanting to have everyone adore oneself, it’s not just wanting to get things we want --- and “have a right to,”  self-love also insists that: “I am perfect,” and instinctively criticizes ideas and ways that are NIH --- Not Invented Here.  Many of us, perhaps justly, think we have better ideas than the next person.  But that doesn’t mean that perhaps we can be wrong, at least sometimes.  And that doesn’t mean that others’ ideas --- even ones worse than ours --- might still be good enough, and should be respected.  It is one thing to say:  “If you do that, someone will die.”  But it is quite another thing to say:  “If you do that, we’ll travel a block out of our way,” or “it won’t be spicy enough,” or “mom won’t like it.”  Not every idea that we don’t agree with is that important --- and we shouldn’t be so quick to jump on someone, as if it were.
Not instantly reacting negatively to another’s idea is not “stifling my idea,” it is humbly admitting:  “I am not perfect.”  It’s hard to be humble, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t work on it.
And as I knelt at Evening Prayer, I looked up at Jesus on the altar.  He truly was perfect.  And I meditated on what He would have said to my workmen, as I drifted into my nightly rosary.
Love come to me, that I might be love to others
-- from my meditations on the 3rd Glorious Mystery


  1. When Our Lord sees you or me, it's like He sees that little duck nesting behind a dying bush. He just knows it's better to wait before ripping us out of there so He can get His work done. Gentle Father.
    Sometimes I contemplate the Wisdom of God, and His allowing of disorder and evil to exist, centuries, eons go by. Can you imagine, in 5 million years, He will be the same, and he will still be caring and loving His creation, and allowing it to be free? He is so far above trying to control every outcome. Because He created every outcome. Blessed be His Holy Name.
    God bless. ~ Fran
    P.S. It's SPRING!

    1. What you are saying, Fran, is that He has the patience of God, something I oft times sorely lack.

      And yes, it is Spring ---- kinda. My pear trees are just barely budding, and my plum and magnolias not yet at all. And with the coolness and breeziness, I can't bring myself to go out for walks, or at least not my usual walks where I read a book as I go. But soon ...

  2. You probably don't lack patience as far as humans go: you just see the vast difference between God and you, and that's a good thing to contemplate, and to glorify Him for.
    Yes, spring is very late in coming, but it is coming. Yes. Soon.
    God bless. ~ Fran

  3. I hear you Tom! My mother used to say :If you want something done right - do it yourself. Even with her wisdom ringing in my ears, I find it difficult not to criticize how others do their job. I think to myself "It's not rocket science but usually a matter of common sense. It seems when the Lord was passing out brains, they thought he said "Pains" so they didn't take any

    God knew what He was doing when he left fallen mankind in the fallen world to struggle and work out our salvation. Rubbing elbows with other fallen humans can be exasperating. It's truly trying to mix with the residents here who are so set in their ways. They have become so self-centered that they bring every conversation back to themselves. Not being very lovable, its difficult for me to love my neighbor - some more than others. It's so easy to fall into sin, and I feel it deeply. I read somewhere that the Righteous Man sins seven times a day. That was a puzzling statement to me for years, but I understand it now because I've lived it.
    I love your meditation on the 3rd Glorious Mystery:
    "Love come to me, that I might be love to others - from my meditations on the 3rd Glorious Mystery.

  4. Perhaps some of the elderly you associate with, Maryellen, can only remember themselves and their lives and problems. Other memories may get confused; I've learned a lot caring for my mom, and from the members of my caregiver's support group, which still meets monthly. Still, were I in your shoes I am POSITIVE I would find it very hard to not get frustrated (I'm trying not to say angry, which is probably the better word). I often deal with much younger friends who are stuck in their ways and thinking, and who are quick to criticize my thoughts without consideration --- as I (unfortunately) am sometimes theirs.

    Just this morning after mass I went to a restaurant for breakfast and asked for only half of their special (just one egg, sausage, toast). The waitress couldn't imagine why I didn't want the larger order, nor would she agree not to prepare it all, nor agree not to toss half of it before she served me, nor agree to give me a side plate so I could put half the order on for her to throw away. Finally I said (loudly, I'm afraid): "Okay, I won't disrupt your normal routine. Just tell the bus boy to scrape off the leftovers from one of the plates as he cleans tables, and you can charge me for the highest priced thing on the menu. That way you sell a high-priced item with no need to deliver it, and I'd tip the busboy well for his troubles." She started to respond that she couldn't do that either, when another waitress came over and said she'd deliver what I wanted --- and she did. I left the original waitress a $20 tip, but I still left feeling somewhat in need of confession. Sometimes over the littlest things I find myself thinking my way is the only way. I'm a sad disciple of His.