“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:41-42
The jar of pickles in this picture reminded me of the most important lesson that this perfectionist-natured person has ever learned. Perfect is over-rated. Not only is perfect over-rated, but I’ve truly learned that when life is perfect, you miss out on all the best stuff.
These pickles are the retail product of a phenomenal venture called Opportunity Knocks. It’s a before school, after school, and for those over 21 years of age, a continuing education program. My son Nicolas has been attending the after school activities for over a year and has never had more fun, been more challenged, or explored more of his own personality and independent self than at his beloved “Knocks”. They offer all kinds of activities. This semester Nick has done improv, played tennis, baked homemade pizza, and taken part in a community service project. In addition, over the past year or so, the Warriors (as the participants are known) have begun to produce and sell jars of pickles.
When I cracked open my first jar of “Knock Out” Pickles I pulled the first slice out of the jar and was actually a little surprised at how really delicious it was! I don’t know what I was expecting, maybe just regular pickles, or maybe kinda gross pickles, but these things are tasty! So I went back for a second slice and there it was….a totally different size and shape slice. It made me pause and smile. It made me imagine sweet hands, focused fully on sharp knives and slippery cucumbers, and the serious fine motor and focused effort it took to slice them. At that moment I realized that a jar of symmetrically-sliced pickles would work better for my sandwich, but within their perfection the joy of the pickle maker would be absent. Whether sliced by machine, or sliced by the hand of most people making homemade pickles, the creation of a perfectly-sized pickle slice is the height of doldrums. But not these slices! They’re oddly sized and some a little funny shaped, and within each slice is the joy of accomplishment. Each jar purchased rewards the producers with a triumphant victory!
What does this have to do with my perfectionism? It’s the same lesson Martha learned as she rushed around, making everything perfect for her VIP guest Jesus (Luke 10:41-42). There’s lots of things that we can worry over, making sure they’re done “just so” and fussing that everything is exactly as it should be. But what do we miss out on? Martha was missing out on the moment. Most people are so busy getting things done and moving forward at the speed of light, they miss what happens when something imperfect happens. We can miss out when we have the opportunity to experience something greater. Because, you see, if Mary and Martha had both plopped down immediately at Jesus feet, the event would have been – by normal standards – a mess. No picking up finished dinner plates, or refilling drinks, or tidying up – I don’t know exactly what Martha was doing but if left undone it would’ve appeared imperfect. I believe that if everything in life is perfect, we miss out on what is truly great.
Just a couple of tasty pickle slices reminded me of how wonderful it is for things to not be perfect. Because through the imperfect we receive the best experiences of life.
Whatever imperfect situation you face today, stop and sit down at the feet of Jesus. Let it all just be imperfect while you focus on that which is far more valuable. Maybe you are, like me, learning an important lesson in letting go of perfection so that you can experience greater. Greater joy, greater peace, and greater fulfillment.