I heard something incredibly profound yesterday, and it really made me stop and think. I was halted partially because of the words themselves, but mostly because they came from my six-year-old.
Over the weekend we went out to one of our favorite restaurants, and prior to the meal the kids had been enjoying the activities and making some brilliant crayon art on their placemats. Both kids brought home their masterpieces, as they usually do, so that they could continue to add to them and admire them as necessary.
Yesterday as they compared pages, my daughter seemed a bit disturbed by the fact that her connect-the-dot picture had not turned out exactly like her brother's. (Being two years older, he had been somewhat better able to follow the numbers exactly, whereas she had gotten a little more abstract.)
She had also pointed this out when the drawings were first completed, and before my husband or I could even say anything, her brother was right there to reassure her. After telling her that he really liked her drawing, and seeing that she still wasn't convinced that she shouldn't feel bad, he said "I know! Mine is the best at following the numbers, and yours is the best at being creative!" Finally she decided to accept his reasoning, and the evening moved on. (What he said then was good, but it gets even better.)
This time, she was having a little more trouble being convinced that what she saw as a mistake was really ok, and seemed on the verge of getting very frustrated that she hadn't drawn the picture "exactly right." After many failed reassurances, my son paused, thought for a minute, and finally said "Well, even when things don't go right they can still be good."
My daughter was appeased. I was amazed (and more than a little proud.) What incredible wisdom coming from a child. Thinking back, I can remember so many times throughout my life that I was frustrated, or worse, when things didn't go "right" according to my perception or prejudgments. How much easier those times would have been if I had looked past the not right and instead saw only the good.
Don't get me wrong. There are those times when it is important to be as precise as possible, and I'm not endorsing doing intentionally inferior work just because it doesn't have to be perfect. Some mistakes need to be fixed, and if we can we absolutely should.
But there are also those times when it really doesn't matter if we follow precise instructions, or if the results exactly fit the preconceived notions. Perhaps those are the times when we should step back, cut ourselves a little slack, and look past the "not right" until we can see the good.