~ George Burns
This quote makes you laugh because it catches you off guard.
You find yourself agreeing wholeheartedly during the first part, only to find yourself agreeing again when he says something that seems to reflect an opposite sentiment at the end.
We love to feel connected. We want to feel close with other people.
But human imperfections always demand a little bit of space. That’s especially true with family members who don’t always politely respect your privacy boundaries.
So we prefer it when they live in another city. We can have all the closeness and intimacy we want in small doses.
There are certain skills and talents that I’m fairly proud of. But it’s my weaknesses I’m most proud of. Well, to be more accurate, it’s the growth I have managed in those areas that makes me glad.
For whatever reason, I didn’t start this life as an accepting person.
It’s not that I judged people, or thought myself better than them. It’s just that I didn’t let them get close if I perceived any flaws in their personality, intelligence, social skills, or whatever.
So you can probably imagine how many close friends I had. I mean, I had friends, but I never totally accepted them as “my own people,” so to speak.
If you’ve ever seen the Disney movie, Cars, you have already witnessed a version of the lesson life has taught me (but with fewer talking cars in my case).
In Cars, lightning McQueen considers the “people” of Radiator Springs too flawed and backward to be worthy of his time. The rusted, mostly ignorant “Mater” character is the worst of them.
But in the end, McQueen realizes the true value of friendship and learns to appreciate Mater for who he is. McQueen discovers the joy of fully accepting others, flaws and all.
I did that.
The reason for my confession is simple. My life improved dramatically because of my personal growth in that area. So I spread the word in case it helps anyone else recognize the value of celebrating the imperfection of people.
Happily, I discovered most people were way ahead of me when it comes to accepting the flaws of others. As I began to let them into my life more completely, I realized something I wasn’t expecting.
Part of my hesitancy to let people get close stemmed from my own irrational belief that I could somehow have friendships where nobody perceived my flaws…flaws they were destined to discover if I really let them become a part of my world.
It’s interesting that as a relationship coach I now find myself helping others to build greater relationship intimacy, sometimes by overcoming the very weakness I am describing. It’s like someone with a fear of heights deciding to become a skydiving instructor.
In any case, my message to you is this. I know I often emphasize ways to screen out men who are unworthy of your time and affection. But wisdom often comes in the form of a two-sided coin. You cannot understand the whole coin unless you are aware of both sides.
So here’s the balancing truth. Imperfections are not to be feared in yourself or others. Evaluate the imperfection and decide if it truly interferes with the possibility of a beautiful connection. If not, discover the joy of loving a flawed human being with your whole heart.
Always on your side,
*Photo source – Disney