Monday, May 2, 2011
I went to a women’s conference two weeks ago that was simply magnificent. The keynote speaker did a masterful job of expressing herself about “the imperfect path to perfection,” and she told a personal story that really brought her message home. I am going to try to replicate it for all of you as best I can.
Apparently her two children are at that all-too-familiar stage where the eldest one exerts physical domination while the youngest retaliates with psychological warfare. One day, she heard a big CRASH and ran toward the sound, fearing shard-related injuries of every sort. When she arrived, she saw that her curio cabinet was a thing of the past, and the plate of glass that had formerly covered it was shattered completely. Worse still, nearly every breakable treasure inside had joined it on the floor, broken into more pieces than she cared to imagine.
In front of the curio cabinet stood her two boys, each of them silent and immovable. Their facial expressions, however, differed completely. Shock and terror were stamped across the younger boy’s face, while his elder brother’s features held something else: a barely discernible (yet rather smug) look of satisfaction. This look was quickly followed by a pointing gesture, indicating that it was the shocked and terrified son who was responsible for the damage.
In a burst of motherly love worthy of a medal, this mom pulled the smaller boy into her arms and assured him that not one of those broken things was worth even a fraction of his own value. “You are the real treasure,” she said. (Isn’t it great when we get these things right?) As she reassured the culprit, his big brother surprised her by beginning to sort through the glass to see if anything there might be salvageable. He paid particular attention to a Lladro figurine called “Kimono Girl,” which his father had purchased while on his mission in Japan and given as a present to the girl who faithfully waited for him (aka the mother of these rowdy boys). The youngster knew how much the little statue meant to his dad, and it wasn’t long before he was excitedly declaring that he thought he had found enough small pieces to mend it. In fact, he wanted to do the job himself!
Our speaker interjected here that she initially had her doubts about letting her oldest son, whose specialty was wreaking havoc and mayhem wherever he went, attempt the dainty mending job at hand. She then reminded herself that, most of the time, his amazing messes were the aftermath of creating something beautiful. (It seems he's an artist at heart, albeit a somewhat-less-than-tidy one.) She finally agreed to let him take the lead role, his careful hands gently putting each fragment in place while she applied the glue. They cheered and applauded themselves all along the way, as shoulders, arms, and other appendages were slowly returned to the kimono girl. It looked like they would be successful in restoring her to her former state.
In the end, their luck didn’t hold. One final piece was missing, right in the back of their little kimono girl’s head. Try as they might, neither of them could find it, and the hole was distressingly noticeable. At first, they brainstormed about various ways they could fix it. One idea was to go to Michael’s and buy some kind of filler, which they would then paint and glaze to match the Lladro. Other ideas were floated as well, but none were adopted. It was finally decided that the little figurine should be left as she was, perfect in her imperfection. When all was said and done, the kimono girl had become a beautiful representation of the love and unity between a son and his mother, working together toward a common goal. It also symbolized a son’s desire to return to his father something he dearly loved. Can you see where this story is going?
Recently, we celebrated Easter, and the conclusion drawn by this inspired speaker applies perfectly to that observance. She suggested that we are all broken, each one with a corresponding crack or fissure that is beyond our capacity to fill. Like the kimono girl, these figurative holes at the back of our heads are a result of human fallibility. Unlike the kimono girl (who is, after all, an inanimimate object), ours cause us to make mistakes. We forget what’s truly important, or we allow important things to drop out of our consciousness. Other times, the holes enable our minds to open widely enough to see beauty in imperfection or truth in the midst of lies. These clearly evident flaws in all of us represent the epitome of finding perfection in imperfection, because they remind us of that missing piece which exists in each of God’s children, a piece that only the atonement can fill.
At one time or another, we've all heard someone say, "I must have a hole in my head." Now, instead of chuckling (or agreeing), I will be prompted to remember that every one of us shares that condition. I am grateful for a loving Savior, whose capacity to bless and redeem my life is infinite.