Back in high school, I took several ag classes. (For my more urban friends, Ag is short for agriculture.) I enjoyed them, most of my friends took them with me, and they got me out of having to take Chemistry – all good things in my book!

I vividly recall the day our teacher let us use the new plasma cutter. This was basically a piece of equipment used to cut metal, but it felt like the most exciting gadget on the planet for us that day. We were not allowed to play with the shop toys too often, so we were like kids on Christmas morning.

We all gathered around as our teacher showed us how to work the machine. He watched a handful of students to make sure we knew what we were doing, but then he stepped away for a few minutes. While he was away, we all took turns cutting strips from a piece of metal.

When my turn finally came, I think my brain just stopped. I am not sure if it was excitement or just an incredible lack of skill, but I was terrible at the whole thing.

My classmates had to keep telling me, “No! Not like that!… Do this!… Watch out!…” You get the idea. They were not being mean; they were legitimately helping me because I was doing everything wrong.

I prided myself in being a good student in those days, so I was mortified. No one else seemed to struggle or run into the same problems I faced. They all made their cuts exactly as instructed. Miraculously, my cut actually turned out pretty straight. I’ll call it divine intervention.

Our teacher returned just as I was finishing my cut. He only saw the finished product, not the process to get there. He proudly smiled and exclaimed, “Great job! Now THAT is how you make a cut!” (or something to that effect).

You have never seen so many eyes roll so hard, and I’m fairly certain I turned all kinds of red. But, in the end, I had accomplished the ultimate goal.

This is NOT an argument for the ends justifying the means. We should always strive to be thoughtful, intentional, blameless and thorough with that which has been entrusted to us. Making excuses is easy, but not in line with God’s calling on our lives.

Rather, this is a gentle reminder for us perfectionists that sometimes life is messy, and things don’t always go according to our plan. Don’t give up. Keep pushing. Be willing to get your boots and your hands dirty if necessary.

God is right there with you in the striving. Life is not perfect, but HE is. He is faithful, and He will complete the work He has started in you (Phil. 1:6). And who knows? The finished product might be exactly what you needed but never dreamed possible.


Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko on