Every year like Clark and his family, we load up the family truck and head out “to select the most important of Christmas symbols,” the Beard family Christmas tree. Tree lots or trees in the box don’t do it for us. Nope. We need to do it like our fore-fathers. We get out into the woods to cut it down with an ax. All Paul Bunyan like in my red and black plaid flannel shirt. Ok, so maybe that’s not exactly how it works. We go to a tree farm. I use a saw. And no, I didn’t have a plaid flannel shirt either. By the way, aren’t all flannel shirts plaid?
The search was on. We marched our way out into the field to find that perfect tree for Beard-Christmas 2018. There is always debate among the family members as to what the tree should look like. Should it have long needles or short needles? What about the height? How about the breadth of the tree?
After searching in one section we decided to change directions. I believe it was Carissa that found one that she liked, but the kids and I protested. It wasn’t full enough for my taste. This back and forth happened a few times until Julie came across a great tree. Her and I both agreed that it was a really nice tree. It was the right height, and it was full but not too full. It would have worked for our living room. And that’s when it happened. For some reason, even though the rest of the family was mostly in agreement that it was a really good tree for us, we made the declaration, “Let’s keep looking, we might be able to find a better one.”
We searched and searched to find that elusive perfect tree. It just wasn’t there. In fact, we searched so long that we decided to go back and cut down the tree that Julie found because we decided that it was the “perfect” tree. There was a problem though in that we couldn’t find it. Someone may have cut it down or we just couldn’t remember what it looked like. My guess is that it was there and we just didn’t recognize it the second time around. We ended up finding a tree that worked well for us, but I think there is a lesson there.
Perfection. The forever search for the grass that we are promised that is always greener. I even felt the emotion from this lie as I typed the first few sentences of this post. There’s always something better, right? There is something perfect. I just need to find it.
I think on some level probably all of us have bought into this lie at one point or another. For those of you like me, the perfectionists of the world, we buy into it more times than we’d care to admit. Sometimes we try to make it noble like calling it work ethic or excellence. Those are good things, but I think at times if we are honest with ourselves, underneath those layers is a striving for something that is unattainable. We think our identity is on the line.
Here’s the hard truth. Life is not perfect. And as I say that, let me also say in my best Gomer Pyle accent, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!” Perfection is not a reality. We beat ourselves up for not being perfect or we fail to start something because of the fear that it won’t be perfect, yet it’s something that isn’t even real. Let’s understand that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Perfection is not just around the corner. Our identity is not up for debate regardless of what we do or don’t do.
“It won’t be perfect. It won’t. Not because you did something wrong but because life doesn’t work that way.”–Jon Acuff in Finish