I rarely pay full attention to the movies my children watch. Sure, I’m fully engaged during family movie nights, but other times, like lazy Saturday mornings, I’m pre-occupied with other things. This past Saturday, however, something caught my attention in the movie they were watching. It was The Lego Movie.
If you haven’t seen it, the movie centers around an evil tyrant named Lord Business, who masquerades as caring President Business. Business is obsessed with everything being perfect and uniformed. In order to make it that way, he controls the economy, the laws, the television shows, and even the radio stations. The main character, Emmet, blindly follows all of the rules, to a T, all the time. The beginning of film depicts him waking up the same way he always does, following the same routine he always follows, wearing the same clothes he always wears, and traveling the same route he always travels to work. To follow this path is considered perfect.
One line, in particular, toward the beginning of the movie, caught my attention. As Emmet arrives for work at a construction site, the foreman can be heard saying, “Take anything that’s weird and blow it up!” Why? Because anything weird is not perfect, at least to Lord Business. And perfect is the standard by which everything in the Lego Universe is measured against.
It got me thinking- is that how life is? Now, I know, this is just a movie, but think about it for a moment: How often do we spend all of our energy trying to have the perfect friends, the perfect spouse, the perfect children, the perfect job, the perfect house, the perfect…life?
We’ve certainly attempted this in the past.
Life As A House.
In 2007 we made the decision to move out of a 1930’s era farmhouse, we had purchased 6 years earlier, and into a large suburban home in an upscale neighborhood. To be honest, it was a terrible financial decision. We could afford it, but barely. In the first two years we owned it, we had little, to no margin, monetarily, to do much of anything else. In our eyes, the house was perfect. It was big, bright (literally, lots of light), and just like the homes everyone else owned. I personally loved it because I no longer felt weird living in an old, small farm house, with crooked walls, and water in the basement.
What I didn’t realize was that I had developed a heart-condition. My heart had become dark. I had given it over to this relentless pursuit of perfection. I had to have the perfect house, the perfect stuff, and the perfect life. I wanted so badly to fit in with society that I baulked at anything weird or unordinary. What I thought life was all about, really wasn’t what it was all about. Perfection wasn’t working.
It didn’t fulfill me. It left me empty. Our family wasn’t any better off either. We were stressed, our children were stressed, and no one was really happy. So, we moved. We sold the house and we moved back to our small farm house. We felt led to do so. In the process, we gave a bunch of our stuff away to families who were in need. It filled us up much more than having perfect stuff or trying to live the perfect life ever did. In fact, it changed our lives forever.
The Problem With Perfect.
Perfect doesn’t exist! Perfection is a myth. There’s only one thing in this world that’s perfect, and you and I aren’t Him. I spent years pursuing perfection only to wind up empty, frustrated, and still searching.
Do you want to know something interesting? The picture I chose for this post is called “Grandparents, parents, and children enjoying a healthy meal together.” Take another look at it above. Don’t they look perfect? In fact, if you had to guess, I bet you would say the grandfather retired at 65 on a $2 million nest-egg. The grandmother still loves him the same way she did 45 years ago when she married him, and their children, the mom and dad in this picture, have the perfect marriage. They make a combined income of $250,000 a year and have jobs they love. Both of their children attend private schools and have a deep respect for them. Oh, and of course, they all eat the perfect diet, never swinging by McDonalds because they’re too stressed to think about cooking anything!
Looks perfect doesn’t it? There’s one problem- it’s all staged. It’s not real. It’s a stock photo I downloaded from my user subscription to Thinkstock Photos. However, in our society, we tend to hold up a picture like this as the standard. We think, “If only my family looked like this, laughed like this, or behaved like this, my life would be perfect!” We compare ourselves, our homes, our spouses, and our children to actors who met for the first time when they walked onto location for the photoshoot.
We tend to look at our weird, quirky, not-so-perfect lives as mediocre and less than beautiful, if they don’t look like the perfect family portrait. Perfection, however, is a myth.
When we focus all of our attention on being perfect, we leave no margin to really live. Quite frankly, we end up stressing ourselves, and our children, out in the process!
Sadly, the bulk of this 7 billion-person populated planet spends most of their time existing but never really living. There’s such an obsession with perfection that most people miss the beauty that already exists in the lives they have. When we personally abandoned the pursuit, we discovered how beautiful our imperfect life really was.
I love our weird, out-of-the-ordinary lifestyle. I love our quirky house with it’s crooked, creaky walls. I love how creative and free our children are now. I love how rich our lives have become (not monetarily, but spiritually and emotionally). I was standing in our dining room, earlier this morning, looking at our full-length mirror on the wall on the opposite side of the room. It leans to one side because the floor beneath it sinks a bit. It’s nothing close to perfect. “I love it!” I thought to myself.
I love this!
Have you discovered the beauty in our imperfect lives? Share your story with us.