December 10, 2008

happy valley = perfection?

have you seen that movie? "happy valley" is the movie i'm talking about. i think it is extremely interesting how close to the truth it is.

having lived in utah valley for only half my life, i am able to remember what it's like to live in a place surrounded by people of other faiths. i remember knowing the extremes of right and wrong and how there were no 'gray' areas that could confuse. here in "happy valley" we seem to believe that we must keep up the appearance of the name - we must make others think that our lives are perfect and that we don't need help. if we don't, that means we're weak. it means that we're not living the gospel the way we should. we're not the examples we've been told to be. we make it a point in helping others and denying that we, ourselves, need help. it's ok for others to have problems, but it's not ok for us to have problems.

the thing is ... how long can a person pretend things are perfect? how much time will pass before your imperfections you're trying to hide eat away at you and the glass house you've built for yourself shatters? this analogy may be a little too extreme for some, but i believe it rings true for quite a lot of us. at least, it rings loud and clear for me. for my entire (short, yes i know) life, i had to be perfect. was it a self-imposed ideal? i'd venture to say it was at least 60% just that. i was terrified of letting people into my life too far for fear they would see the ugliness inside of me that i tried so hard to make invisible.

i am trying to realize that this belief i have of perfection here and now is impossible. at the beginning of the semester i jokingly told one of my classes that 99% of the time i was perfect. (this came about after i made the mistake of saying "shut up" when a student wouldn't be quiet.) well, in a lesson i just taught about Christ's second coming, i expressed to my class how everyone has something they can improve on. there is not one person who can be perfect here on earth. that's just the way it is. we can't change it. to hit this concept home with my students i said, "i'm sister peterson - a seminary teacher - and i am not perfect! i make mistakes all the time! i sin every day, just like everyone else." i think each student in the class finally understood what i was saying. we hold missionaries up on a pedestal, and yet what are they? they're 19 year-old boys! they are able to do God's work because they stay close to the spirit, but they're still just 19 year-old boys.

i have been guilty of critically analyzing others' faults, but then i remember that i have my own overflowing bucket-load of faults to deal with. many times in my life i've acted as though i don't know i have faults. but why on earth would a person want to be friends with a person who has no faults?! they wouldn't. our faults make us who we are. we learn and grow from our mistakes. for the first time in my life, i am proud to say that i am not perfect.