of an Unseen God: A Spiritual Look at
Life's Complexitiesby Sid Ogino
$16.00 • Hardcover • 93 pages
Seeing Beauty in
A few years ago, a missionary from the Dominican
Republic came to our church and gave a presentation about her work
as a physical education teacher in a small country school. I was
amused to see the volleyball used by the children. It had been
patched and reinforced with duct tape so many times that it was
completely silver. The volleyball net was constructed of two ropes
strung across bamboo poles. Any ball over the top rope was good and
any ball under the net was no good. There were no lines on the
ground so it was anyone's guess which balls were "in" and which were
"out." And the basketball court was really cool. Instead of a basket
mounted on a pole, a little boy stood on a desk. If he caught the
ball it was counted as a basket. Slam-dunking was not
I think many of the people who viewed the
presentation felt sorry for those "poor" and "deprived" children. I
did not. I felt envious. I thought to myself, "This is true sport:
no million-dollar salaries, no swoosh symbols on shirts and shoes,
no prima donna antics or spoiled brat attitudes, and no cutthroat
competition. Here, everyone is a cheerleader, everyone is a player,
and most important, everyone has fun."
It reminded me of the summer I taught school in a
rural Methodist boarding school in the Fiji Islands. When I arrived,
I was surprised to see how many "imperfect" people there were. It
was common to see people who were missing arms, legs, eyes, fingers
and teeth. But there was a certain Spartan beauty in these
"imperfect" people. Imperfection was acceptable and it was the
status quo. This was very apparent to me when I went to the town
gymnasium to watch the South Pacific Games. The Tongan women's
basketball team took the court and played the entire game without
brassieres, socks or shoes. I can still hear the crowd cheering, "Go
Tonga, shake it baby, shake it!" And did they ever shake it! Wow.
Everyone was a cheerleader. Everyone was a player. And everyone had
In his book, Golf is not a Game of Perfect,
sports psychologist Dr. Bob Rotella writes, "[T]rain yourself to
accept the fact that as a human being, you are prone to mistakes.
Golf is a game played by human beings. Therefore, golf is a game of
mistakes . . . if you bring a smothering perfectionism to the golf
course, you will probably leave with a higher handicap and a lousy
disposition because your game will never meet your expectations."
Rotella teachers amateur golfers to have only one goal each time
they play golf - to have fun and enjoy the game.
What is true in sports is also true in life.
Unless we can make peace with life's imperfections, we will never be
happy. I've yet to meet a happy perfectionist. These individuals are
usually so focused on what is not there that they fail to see what
is there. They are so obsessed with what is wrong that they fail to
celebrate what is right. That is why hard-core perfectionists never
enjoy true inner peace. Their compulsion for fixing and improving
keeps them dissatisfied, disillusioned and discontent.
This is also true of our spiritual journeys. We
must either learn to enjoy imperfection or prepare for a lonely life
of continual frustration.
There is a joke that illustrates the beauty of
imperfection. It involves a Catholic cardinal whose cruise ship was
scheduled to make a layover on a small island in the Pacific. He
knew that many years ago, a Catholic missionary had planted a church
in a remote village on that island, and he wanted to see if that
church still survived. So after the ship set anchor, the cardinal
organized an excursion to the remote village. There he found three
shabbily dressed men who called themselves "Kasovics." His Eminence,
the cardinal, asked the three men if they knew how to
They replied, We pray dis way: We three. You
three. Have mercy on us!"
Disgusted by their appearance and appalled by
their prayer, the cardinal instructed them in the proper way to
pray, and he drilled them in memorizing the Lord's Prayer. The
cardinal returned to his ship feeling quite satisfied that he had
done a good deed, and shortly after, the boat departed from the
small island. Later that night, however, the cardinal spotted three
lights floating above the sea. The lights grew closer and closer and
soon he recognized that the lights were the three men he had taught
the proper way to pray. The men were skating on the water and as
they approached the ship they said, " Your eminence Sir, we forgot
the third line of the prayer you taught us. Could you tell us
Stunned, the cardinal replied, "Forget it. Go
back to 'We three. You three. Have mercy on us.'"
Are you seeking the perfect mate, the perfect
figure, the perfect job, the perfect round of golf, perfect children
or a perfect church? Get real. Passion is attainable. Perfection is
not. Real beauty is found when imperfect people live passionate