Newspaper Writing, Opinion, Sample Work

The Perfect Plan

perfect planPublished October 2014: The Messenger – Faith: A Fresh Take

The Perfect Plan

On a daily basis, I catch myself repeating the word “perfect” over and over again. When a meeting or plan is finalized, I respond with “That’s perfect.” When my children leave in the morning with beds made and rooms ‘somewhat’ picked up, I tell them “That’s perfect.” As my students arrive on time for class or club meetings, I reiterate how “perfect” it is.

The reality, though, is that life is not perfect. In fact, it’s far from perfect. Perfect implies that there is no room for improvement, that we have reached the top in our goals and that all is right and well with the world. Sadly, it’s not. Too many people wake up and go to bed each night without any food, nourishment or even water. Our streets are riddled with crime and greed. Some are suffering physically and mentally without family or community support systems, compassion for others is at an all-time low in many communities and the idea of entitlement and the “me” philosophy is running rampant.

Life is not perfect, we are not perfect and our faith has not been perfected yet.

Closer to home, our thoughts, actions and even parenting styles are imperfect. I know first hand because I am an imperfect parent. I hover when my teenagers need their space, I nag them continuously to clean up after themselves and I lose my cool when attitudes flare. We don’t make enough time for each other, enjoy enough quality conversations over dinner and strive for enough times of reflection and prayer.

Imperfections are a part of life. Injustices are a part of life. Disappointments are a part of life.

For me, the key to a life full of “perfect” moments is to recognize that life doesn’t have to be perfect. We need to embrace our imperfections to learn how to improve ourselves – both through our actions and our thoughts.

Instead of beating myself up over how I handled a disagreement with my daughter, I need to focus less on how my parenting needs to be “perfect” and more on how I can improve those imperfections and make amends. Admitting wrongdoing and showing your human side promotes genuine, honest effort toward working on yourself. I need to share my own faults with my children so they can see that I’m not “perfect” nor should I be “perfect.” I need to use these imperfect moments as a means to work on relationships, work performance and household issues.

Trying to maintain a perfect life, household, family and career is exhausting. And, it’s unrealistic. Our faith teaches us that even those we worship the most faltered, picked themselves up and worked toward peace and unity on behalf of all people. Maybe, if we focus more on trusting our faith and trusting God’s guidance to help us work through those imperfections, we can accept ourselves as imperfect people striving toward a better – not perfect – existence.

In my opinion, that plan of action, is perfect.

— Shannon Philpott

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