david herndon

not perfect

A few weeks ago I was attending a school assembly in the gym of my son’s elementary school gym.  It was very exciting, as I’m sure you can imagine, complete with the child-size chairs they make the adults sit in.  You’ve never felt more confident then sitting in a gym full of adults talking about adult things with your knees up to your ears like you’re using a toilet in India… okay, you get the point.

As exciting as the night was, I did lose focus for a few moments as I noticed a white board leaning against the wall, as if they had cancelled some activity in the middle of the action in order to host the assembly.  I took a picture because it amused me so, and I think you’ll be amused too… 

Now, I’m guessing there was some lesson about perfection going on here, but I’m not sure how far it got.  It looks like the kids started in the right direction, listing things like “rotten food,” “old cheese,” and, yes, “Michael Vick.”  But then they got a case of the funny bones and just got silly, adding “Barney,” “Elmo,” and “Fat Albert.”  They could have just been listing things they were afraid of though, because “sharks” and “the devil” are also on the list.  Loss of points for repetition though – Barney and the devil are one in the same.  If you don’t believe me, just play that “I love you” song backwards and see how it turns out.

All jokes aside, one item on this list did stop me dead in my tracks.  Right there among “burnt biscuits” and “the devil”, as close to the middle as possible, someone had written “My Dad.” 

I was saddened, and I still am.  I know that no one is perfect, especially when it comes to fatherhood.  But to be so bad at it that your child throws your name out during a public class discussion of “things and people we dislike” is just… well… not good.  I don’t know if this kid was serious or not, but this board seriously spoke to me.

In the grand scheme of things all of our names should be on that board. I may not fight pit bulls or attack surfers, but I am definitely not perfect.  When I first read this list I subconciously compared myself to the things and people listed and started a ranking.  At first glance I put myself on top, because I think I’m a pretty decent guy. 

But then I read “my dad,” and I couldn’t stop reading it.  I love my children, but I know there are some things I’ve messed up and plenty of situations I have not handled correctly.  I had my own private confessional right there in that tiny chair.  Its funny: in realizing how not perfect I am, I actually became a better dad and a better person.  I guess this is what James is talking about when he says, “Humble yourself in the sight of the Lord and He will lift you up (James 4:10).” 

We all need a strong dose of reality every once in a while… okay, on a daily basis.  When we realize who we really are and how weak we really are, it will help us live life the way it is meant to be lived: in humility, totally dependent on God.  But when we forget who we are and how weak we arelly are, we begin making mistakes. 

And if we’re not careful we may just end up on a white board in an elementary school gym.

May you go forth in humility today.


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