Are There Degrees of Perfection?

I’m a professional picture framer and my job requires me to be fussy.  Everything has to be just so: frame corners joined precisely;  mats even and cleanly cut; glass without fingerprints or scratches; assembly without lint and specks. It’s fastidious work. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great job, but trying to do everything perfectly–which most customers expect–can be very demanding.

And I let it get to me.

I took every tiny criticism personally.  After all, I had worked to make their framing as perfect as possible so any negative comment felt like a personal attack. I had become obsessed with perfection. With every piece I would fuss and worry that  the customer was going to say that this wasn’t perfect enough.

I became a pressure cooker. And one day I exploded.

I decided, that very day, I had to take time off. My staff was more than capable of handling the business. For six months, all I did was come in to pay bills and write paychecks. Eventually I returned to work.

But here’s the thing I learned while I was away. I learned that there had to be a point where my best had to be good enough. Was it perfect? Pretty darn close, but no. I’m not after perfection anymore. I’m after excellence. Only God does perfection.

That’s how I approach my writing, too. I do it to my best ability. I try to learn and improve my craft everyday. Is my writing perfect? Nope. There will always be sentences that could have been improved. Stronger verbs could have been chosen. But eventually, I have to tell myself it’s the best I can do at this time. Then I send it off to a publisher. I get rejections like every writer,but I don’t take it personally anymore. I’m disappointed, but not beaten. I have accepted my limitations and my strengths.


Where Did The Years Go?

My husband and I recently celebrated our fortieth wedding anniversary. I’ve spent some time thinking back over the years we’ve been together. I’m almost as surprised as probably half of our wedding guests that we made it this far. Who would have expected a naive seventeen year old woman, a girl really, and a young twenty year old man just barely on his own two feet to ever make their marriage work? But by the grace of God, we did. It was wonderful, tragic, easy, desperate and every other emotion imaginable.  We were friends, farmer and farm wife, lovers, father, mother, photo technician, picture framer, carpenter, artist, backhoe operator, and writer, but mostly we two birds flying with and against the wind. In our journey we were blessed by two wonderful children and now grandchildren.

Many people say they wouldn’t change a thing in their marriage. Oh, that I could! I wish I could take back the arguments we had, the hurt and pain we caused each other. I wished I had enjoyed my children more when they were young. I wish I had worried less and trusted more. But there is no going back. Only moving forward.

Soon we will be approaching retirement. What then? Travel? Take on a different job? We don’t know, but if we jump in with both feet like we did on our wedding day, it’s sure to be exciting!