On her 50th wedding anniversary, a woman revealed the secret of her long and happy marriage. She said, “On my wedding day, I decided to make a list of ten of my husband’s faults which, for the sake of the marriage, I would overlook.”
One of her guests asked her what some of the faults she chose to overlook were. “To tell you the truth,” she replied, “I never did get around to making that list. But whenever my husband did something that made me hopping mad, I would say to myself, ‘Lucky for him that’s one of the ten!’”
It’s nice to decide what to overlook. In relationships, I get plenty of practice overlooking the foibles of other people. And I suspect they get plenty of practice with me, too.
As they hung wallpaper together, one husband became frustrated with his wife. She seemed, to him, to be indifferent about the quality of her work. He felt she was doing a poor job. He finally put it into words this way: “The problem is that I’m a perfectionist and you’re not.”
“Exactly!” she replied. “That’s why you married me and I married you!”
Miss Perfect certainly did one thing well. She knew how to overlook annoying observations from her perfectionist husband.
We human beings are nothing if not flawed and imperfect. But, the point is, people are not meant to be without blemish. We’re scraped and scarred, flawed on the inside and marred on outside. It’s just the way we are. (Sometimes I think it’s one of our more endearing qualities.) I never want to forget that “perfect” is only found in the dictionary.
Even pottery may be closer to perfection than we humans, if Belleek Pottery in Ireland is any example. I hear that every finished piece there undergoes a final inspection. It is held up to a fierce, bright light and examined for imperfections. If even the slightest flaw is detected, the cup or plate or vase or sugar bowl is smashed to pieces. That’s right. The blemished piece is never sold as a “second.” If Belleek pottery is not flawless, it is reckoned to be no good at all. No doubt other makers of fine china and crystal operate the same way.
I surely cannot stand up to that kind of scrutiny. I have flaws I haven’t even begun to explore yet.
How much pain prompted the words of that sensitive artist Vincent van Gogh when he lamented, “I wish they would only take me as I am.” How many times a day are those words repeated by countless people feeling the sting of rejection? To be accepted as one is and not discarded as useless is more than just a wish; it is a deep, human need.
All of us sport an invisible sign around our necks — “AS IS.” It means, take me as I am. I may not become what you want me to be. And I’m far, far from perfect. But I have some great qualities, too, as well as my share of faults. You will have to take me “AS IS” and I’ll take you that way, too.
AS IS will be the best guarantee any of us can offer. But quite frankly, most of the time we’re getting a pretty good deal.
And so, we pray: Lord, I fell in love with a hymn sang by the Myers Park UMC choir several years ago: “Take, O Take Me As I Am.” Tears came to my eyes as I was so beautifully reminded of that is how Jesus takes us… and loves us anyway. Lord, that is mercy beyond measure. Thank you for your mercy and grace and help me to seek to do the same with all my brothers and sisters. Amen.
Grace and Peace