My Own Journey From Perfection
by Chana Klein
"There is no way I am sharing this writing at that meeting. It's too embarrassing for me." And I continued to
write my answers to the assignment anyway because I wanted to change.
The 6th step of the 12 step program states: "We were entirely ready to have God remove all of these defects of character." By this step, we often had already put the food aside and we were working on fixing our defects of character. I wanted to be relieved of the food obsession. I wrote and wrote, knowing I cannot share these revelations with anyone, especially, not at the meeting. Then, I got to the meeting. We went around the room and each member read what she answered to the assigned question. I listened. "Wow!" I thought, "She wrote exactly what I did." And then the next person read hers. It was the same as mine. And the next... By the time it was my turn, I decided not to read it. But not because I was ashamed. Rather, because it would be so boring to everyone because I wrote just about the same thing that all the others who shared wrote.
I had no "original sin." I was no different, no worse, than anyone else. When I was putting my heart on the paper, I felt such shame at who I was and at things I had done. But here, where everyone else had similar things to write, I saw that I am not different. I was so "not different" in my misguided actions, that I feared boring others if I were to share what I wrote with them. No one else had been perfect. Why did I think I had to be? "Maybe," I concluded, "I don't have to be perfect."
At a later meeting, on new years eve day. I had had many difficulties going on in my life at the time - a very ill son, perennial head and jaw pain, no money to pay to treat either of us, a painful marriage, and more. We went around the room. I was the second one to speak. "I wish I was dead," I shared, which I had prefaced with: "I know you will all not want to talk to me once I tell you this. No one wants to be with someone who is so negative." But I was not one to share inauthentically and that is where I was at. I was wishing my life were over, even though I had not yet lived more than 34 years.
And so we went around the room. The next person to speak said she wished she were dead, as well. And the next, and the next. In fact out of the 53 people who were at the meeting, there were only three who did not feel that they wished they were dead - and those three expressed that they felt left out. I was amazed. I shared the most negative thought I had and in response, others shared that they felt the same. Again, I wondered am I really that bad? Was telling me that I am no different from anyone else. Maybe I don't have to be perfect to be okay.
In later years, I read the Chumash - for the first time. One of the first things that impressed me was that our Patriarchs and Matriarchs, those who, clearly, God loved most, were not perfect. Avraham put his wife Sara at risk, fearing for his own life, Yitzchak may have been blind to the distinction between Yaakov and Esav. Yosef, in the basic text, appeared to have some vanity issues. Moshe Rabbeinu may have had some impatience with others. Our matriarchs and patriarchs were great people, the greatest of all time. Yet, according to the simple text that I was reading, each was not perfect in a different way, not according to my view of perfection. Yet they were great!
Perhaps the Almighty's view of perfection is not the same as mine had been, and they were really perfect just as they were. Perhaps the imperfection is what created their perfection. But to me I was learning that I do not have to be perfect, either, in order to find my own greatness. I am writing this for many of you, my clients and my friends, whose work at being perfect takes you further from whom you want to be. The belief that we have to be perfect stops us in our tracks. It stops us from finding and expressing our own greatness.
It doesn't have to be perfect to be great. Sometimes the perfection is in the imperfection.
Mollie Molonie won the Angels' Award. She was very far from perfect. But maybe that is what makes her so perfect.
You can win an angels award too. Your imperfections may be bringing you closer to being perfect!
Return to the STORIES page