Tragedy struck. In mere moments what had once been beautiful, perfect, was left in ruins. At least that’s what my six-year-old granddaughter, Emma, told me. She and her almost-three-year-old brother, Sam, were drawing with sidewalk chalk on my front porch. It was a happy time until Emma realized Sam had scribbled over her butterfly.
“He ruined it! It was perfect and now look at it!” I closed my eyes briefly, knowing the meltdown was gathering momentum.
“You can draw another butterfly, Emma.” I tried offering a solution.
“I can’t. This one was perfect. I’ll never be able to draw another one like it. Why do I even have to have a sibling?”
“Oh, Emma, he didn’t ruin it on purpose. I think he was trying to add some more color to it and just got a little carried away. But if you drew it once, you can draw it again. Maybe even better. That first one can be a practice drawing.” I was racking my non-perfectionist brain to help my perfectionist granddaughter.
“It wasn’t practice. It was perfect. I don’t remember how I did it. I’ll never be able to do it again.” Emma was inconsolable. I’m sure most of the neighbors knew this by now, but I kept trying. I can’t help it. She’s a perfectionist, and I’m a fixer.
“It’s just chalk, Emma. It wasn’t going to last forever. It would be gone in a day or two or the next time it rains, even if Sam hadn’t scribbled on it.”
“I hate chalk! Why can’t chalk be permanent? Then my perfect butterfly would be here forever.” Emma’s lament went in a new direction. Whoops. I opened that portal, didn’t I?
“It’s chalk, Emma. It’s made to wash away. If it was permanent, you couldn’t draw on my porch with it.” I tried to bring her back to reality.
“You’re just making it worse, Mom-mom. Stop talking.” Emma advised. It was good advice. Once a perfectionist has gone outside the lines, there’s no eraser big enough to fix the problem. I’ll just stop talking and let her get it all out. The neighbors have the option of going indoors.
I walked over to where Sam was sitting, quieting drawing on himself with the chalk. How could he possibly get in trouble for that? Something about the butterfly picture jumped out at me. I probably should have kept it to myself, but sometimes my thoughts come out my mouth before my brain can stop them. “Emma, you know what? You drew the butterfly in blue, and Sam drew over it in yellow. So, I can still see your butterfly clearly under the yellow.” Emma came over to look. She hesitated a second then yelled, “He ruined it!” Here we go again.
As I looked at Emma’s butterfly drawing, now smudged from Sam sitting on it, I thought how God has designed and fashioned me and is perfecting me for His purposes. I tend to mess things up and often can’t see myself as He does. The ruins I make of my life or the ugly stuff other people pile on will one day be washed away. Fortunately, He is a perfectionist, and His perfect design will eventually shine through.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 ESV