Yesterday, while swimming some laps (well, kind of swimming laps) I had an epiphany. As much as I would like everything to be done really well, it doesn't always happen. Sometimes I'm just figuring it out. If that's the case, when the score cards go up, the average is likely to be about a 6.5, which is depressingly far from a 10. That's when a good coach know what to do. With a smile on his face he reminds the athlete that a) the judges are just being honest and b) she's only been working on the double pike with a half twist for two weeks, so it's OK if it has room to improve.

Actually, I had started on this train of thought several days ago after receiving a note from my youngest daughter. It's her wedding we're in the midst of planning, and she had sent me a thank you card for a shower gift. She added some encouraging words about being a great mother of the bride, which went straight to some part of my heart that had been pumping its hardest in an attempt to be exactly that. And I started to cry.

It struck me how hard I had been trying over the past few months. How much I want this wedding and my part in it to be done well. And despite that strong desire to not make mistakes, and to do things smoothly, I hadn't been up to my high standards. Sometimes my best isn't The Best. I know what The Best looks like - or at least I'm bold enough to think I do - and I am honest enough to admit that it doesn't happen nearly enough. 

And it's not only me. I want the same thing for my family. I want us to be able to navigate and negotiate these "we're all adults now" years with the finesse that is totally unrealistic at the beginning of the game. And it may be unrealistic in 20 years. I don't know. But I am striving to become more comfortable with the the idea that life is pretty much always messy, which is ( I'll be truthful here) a wee bit disconcerting.
 
Knowing what could or should be is important. It sets up the mark, the bullseye on the target stapled to the backside of our brain. But just when we get the hang of a bow, then life gives us a sling shot, or a rifle, or some other piece of equipment we've never seen in our lives before and we have to start the learning process all over again. It reminds me of when my kids were younger. We would just settle into a schedule - sleep, eat, play, repeat with fairly predictable time slots - when the whole thing would go up for grabs. And we'd have to figure out what combination would work the best for another few weeks.

So when I am not as organized as I would like to be, and make twice as much work for myself as I should, it's OK. When our family communication goes awol, or we're still working on negotiating skills and the phone rings more than once as different ones are sorting things out, I tell myself: it's OK. When people are disappointed and hurt, or have to change their schedules for the 4th time and are slightly annoyed, it's OK. It's OK because we're still figuring this out. More than that, it's OK because we love each other and our teflon coating is getting stronger, so stuff slides off more easily. And most of all it's OK because we're all connected to a loving God, who keeps filling us with grace and wisdom.

This isn't an aberration of life. It seems that this is Life. The only life that is worth living. A life that requires both high standards and an expectation of messiness. A vision and a mop. And the ability to be OK with all of it.



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