Last week, I was in St. Louis, MO performing with two outstanding comedians as a part of the Laugh in Peace Comedy Tour. Rabbi Bob Alper and Azher Usman have been performing together for a few years now and often include a female Christian clergy person as a part of the tour. The Rev. Susan Sparks is the regular touring female Christian comedian but I’ve been called on twice now to fill in for her when she had other outstanding commitments (like getting married! Congrats, again, Susan!)
Here’s the thing. I want to be perfect. I want to say the right words, look the right way and perform the right actions. Here’s the reality. I’m a total screw-up. Well, total might be a bit harsh, but screw-up is accurate. Truth be told, I’m probably the same amount of screw-up as everyone else- but I can only judge my own personal level of screwuppedness.
In St. Louis, at the biggest gig of my life, I was not perfect. I wasn’t bad, in fact, I had a pretty good set and got some good laughs. But. I wasn’t perfect. I flew home to Boston in an emotional state that vacillated between “I’m all that and TWO bags of chips” and self-flagellation. By the time we landed at Logan Airport, I’d managed to morph the sound of the audience’s laughter into the nasally voice of my inner critic.
I wasn’t perfect. And when I thought about my screw up (s) I felt embarrassed. The good had been replaced by the bad. I was no longer “All that and two bags of chips. “ I wasn’t even a half-bag of stale Doritos. I wasn’t perfect. Damn it.
Here’s the thing. I want to be perfect. Here’s the reality. I’m a total screw-up. Here’s the better thing: I returned home to a husband who loves me- even when I’m at my worst. I returned home to a church family who knows that my fallible humanity is what makes me a decent pastor. I returned home to the teenager whose life gives me perspective on my own. I returned home and finally remembered that God never intended for me to be perfect.
I’m trying to unpack a few of those musty books of regret. The plan is to take it out, examine it, forgive myself for it, put it on the shelf and move on. So far, I’ve gotten closer to the zipper on the backpack. I’m trying, but I’m not perfect, ya know?