It was December, 1984. We lived on the fourth floor of military housing just outside the main gate of the military base in Hanau, Germany. The apartment was in a lovely, old building with parquet floors and monstrous, bright windows. Although a hike to our little penthouse, we loved that apartment. It was easier to sweep down the flights of stairs than to listen to others climb past us; it was quiet at the top.
Aside from the hike, there was one other setback to being at the top. As the steam of the old radiators heated up, the warm air would rise and our apartment would become sufficiently- sometimes unbearably- hot. We are adaptable, so we would just strip down to summer attire and adjust.
This presented no real problem except when we would need to venture out into the cold, winter weather. I would bundle Dayna and Joel in their winter snowsuits and we would descend out into the winter snow. This particular winter, we found ourselves with a sickness. I still believe that any germ could thrive in the tropical temperatures of the fourth floor. Whatever the cause, however, we had sick kids. I decided to take the kids to the infirmary the next day. We would board a bus just down the street, so it was really not a terrible adventure.
The next morning, I dressed Joel while little, independent Dayna dressed herself. I bundled Joel in the necessary snowsuit, a tiny little army–green piece, complete with feet and built-in mittens. He could barely be seen, except for his rosy cheeks and little, runny nose.
Dayna was dressed, but I somehow did not manage to get her feet dressed in her winter boots. Once I realized that she was wearing her little pink high tops with the white, rubber toes, I decided that our short walk would allow the tennis shoes. So we climbed down the stairs and ventured out into the cold. We were nearly at the bus stop and I was trying to lengthen our strides as the bus pulled to a stop. I couldn’t really carry both babies and the diaper bag, so poor Dayna was doing her best to keep up while I pulled her along beside me. Just two or three steps away from the door of the bus, I heard Dayna begin to cry. It wasn’t until we took a seat on the bus that I realized that she had stepped into a puddle in the street. The legs of her jeans were wet up to her little knees.
By the time we arrived at the infirmary, I felt like crying myself. I was bringing my sick child to the doctor in wet, cold clothes. I shrunk in pure humiliation. Yet, the damage had been done. We were diagnosed, given prescriptions for antibiotics and sent home.
This blunder was not earth shattering; I am sure that the medical team at the infirmary didn’t dwell on this puddle-jumping event. So- why did I feel so humiliated? Was I so worried about what others might think to let such a thing affect me for nearly three decades?
I think we all have had experiences that felt like wounds- and perhaps, still look like scars. While we wallow in the feeling of disgrace, the world keeps on spinning itself dry. There are some things that only we ourselves hold onto with a tight grasp; pride happens to be one of them. Simply put, I was mortified by this small event because I didn’t want anyone to think lowly of me. I wanted to be somehow framed as a super mom who never, ever made even the slightest mistake.
Am I the only one guilty of allowing my foolish pride to guide my thinking? Let’s face it- perfect parenting is as fictitious as the Fountain of Youth. We want to believe that we can reach that place, but the longer we strive, the harder the journey becomes. Perfection is unobtainable.
As a life-long perfectionist, those words stick in my throat, Perfection is unobtainable. In Romans, Paul reminds us that ALL have sinned and we ALL have fallen short of the glory of God. Regardless of the setting, we cannot obtain the unobtainable goal of a perfect life. Knowing this simple truth should lift the pressure because we know that our best is good enough!
I could never suggest that this Biblical truth gives license to strive for bare minimum. We are told in the book of Colossians that whatever we do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. This should compel us to do our finest work in His name, but also know that God does not expect perfection from imperfect people. He wants us to put our hearts in whatever job we’re doing, but we are not to lose heart when something goes awry.
Be guaranteed: something will go awry. Food burns; cars hit curbs; kids misbehave… and the list goes on and on. I don’t know about you, but what I need to learn is how to measure the depth of the puddle. What seems deep to me may be nothing to everyone else. I might- believe it or not- be overreacting about a fairly common problem. While I feel as though the water is rising and believe that I will drown, I may notice that everyone around me is walking on nearly dry land. Just because I think a puddle is deep doesn’t make it so. Is it possible that I need a more accurate measuring rod?
Lord, will you help me to measure life’s twists and turns with Your perception? Will you help me keep an eternal perspective instead of wasting time treading imaginary water? Please help me to do my best and accept my mistakes when necessary. Amen.