On Imperfection – As Seen in a Cartoon

“Roman pottery from Britain” by AgTigress (Own work). Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

There are different ways to look at life. One saying goes: “The good is the enemy of the best.” Meaning, that we sometimes settle for second best when we should aim higher. This statement is not without its place, for excellence is something for which to strive.

And yet, there is another saying that goes: “The Best is the enemy of the good.” For it sometimes happens that, in striving for the perfect thing, we miss the truly good in other things. Frankly this world is in a fallen state, and less the fully perfect. Likewise you and I are incomplete, unfinished, imperfect. Yet this does not mean that we lack anything good, or that this imperfect world has nothing to offer.

I suppose that, being more than midway through my expected life, I have moved from the perfectionist world of the first saying to the contented world of the second saying, though both have their place. But I have come to learn that contentedness is a very great gift, and that true perfection waits till heaven.

There is yet another saying that goes: “Unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentments.” For it frequently happens that many, having an insistence that life should be a peach, are resentful to discover that, even a peach has a pit. And expecting everything to be just peachy is a sure-fire recipe for resentment, discouragement and depression.

I think this is one problem with marriage today. Despite our current tendency to be cynical regarding just about everything, I have noticed that many still have very high ideals about marriage: that it will be romantic, joyful, fulfilling, and that love will solve every problem.

But this not realistic. Marriage is life. And life has ups and downs, things we like, and things we wish were different. There is no perfect spouse, and there is no perfect marriage. There are many good marriages that are far from perfect. Many decent spouses who do not live or act perfectly.

And when one enters a marriage with high expectations, they may be tempted to seize on the negative things, and magnify them, because they are not perfect, and resentments begin to build. And its sad really, but the marriage may not actually be that bad, and the less than ideal spouse not really so awful.

But the best becomes the enemy of the good, and decent things are trampled underfoot in an illusive search for the perfect, the best, the ideal.

Indeed, there is yet another saying that goes: “Many people want their marriage to be ideal, and if there is any ordeal, they want a new deal.”

We do a lot of this, discarding the good in an illusive search for the best or the perfect. There is always a better parish, a better Church, a better job, a better boss, a better house, a better car, a better neighborhood, a better deal.

But there is something about being able to accept the good, even the imperfect, and to be content with it. There’s something freeing and serene about not letting the best become the enemy of the good. The perfect will come, but probably not before heaven. In the meantime the good will suffice. And sometimes we don’t see it as good until we accept that the best and the perfect will have to wait.

And all this occurred to me as I watched this video about a “man” who creates a work of art. And he loves it. But then notices an imperfection and goes on a reckless errand to make it perfect. In the end he learns to love what is. To some extent this has been my journey, and I pray yours too.

9 Replies to “On Imperfection – As Seen in a Cartoon”

  1. Agree ..imperfectly πŸ™‚

    The Lord asks us to be ‘perfect , like My Heavenly Father ‘ …may be in marriages, it is easier for the women , thus to expect perfection from those who are to model The Lord and The Father ..

    Bl.Emmerich ( was rereading parts of her wirtings again ) mentions how marriage , on the other hand , after The Fall , is meant to be more like penance , with fasting and prayers ..how the couple at Cana was advised by The Lord, to remain chaste and abstaining , for a year , even though , after His teachings , they had wanted to do so for the whole life .

    Would it be that the perfection we yearn for is sort of built inot our genes , since we are made in His image and thus , beholding , trying to behold that image , again and again, in each other too, in Him , through the Sacramental life with the hope instilled by The Spirit , is to be our way and life !

    Pardon me for using may be this imperfect occasion, to honor St.Jude, Patron of impossibilities ..having known couple of persons , who prided in being St.Jude devotees but had their own share of imperfctions, had led me , to nourish sort of ‘lukewarmness ‘ may be , towards this good saint !

    Realised the other day , that , may be it is his intercession, that has brought to attention the Holy Face devotion ..or it could be St.Teresa of Child Jesus , through St.Alphonsa !

    Wondering too , if it was the Holy Face devotion , in its varied formats , that helped them to deal with so much of the imperfections all around…
    The Holy Face …casting away evil ..blessing children …always in The Eucharist , hiding the heavenly perfection of His beauty and power ..yearning to share it all by The Spirit , with the children ..with the aid of the holy angels and saints .

    Glory be !

  2. Good becomes perfection in a verticle dimension where things are looking up while you are feeling down.

  3. Absolutely, Msgr. Pope. Especially that part about marriage (believe me, I learned the hard way).

    I have a suggestion though… If (and only if) we see life/marriage/our job/our family etc etc as a gift, and not a right, we would be less likely to complain about only having the ‘good’, and give thanks for whatever might be our station in life. God bless.

  4. I can see this very well in my life. When things weren’t peachy, I’d lose my temper and yell. “Unrealistic expectations were premeditated resentments”…good way of putting it. And that hurt the people in my life. Sinners sin. Get over it. Why should I expect sinners to be saints when they’re not? Why should I expect to be treated any better than Jesus on the cross? That was unrealistic and I lived much of my life with that horrible attitude. I thank God for letting me see this. And I do think I have found the peace that the world can’t give…and it is freeing. If someone rides an inch from my bumper, out comes the middle finger…so I’m not completely healed. But I’m content for the most part. I know God is working on me.

  5. Our Priest said at Mass that our actions of Love towards one another are prophetic of Heaven. It made me cry.

  6. Resentment is such a big thing to overcome in marriage. Really, nothing can get a permanent fix until the resentment is let go and compassion is put in its place.

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