Sammy Rhodes’ book This Is Awkward evokes a lot of familiar emotions as he writes about his own experiences with his father, and the impact those experiences have on his life and relationships with his own children.
Our first gifts to our children are the characteristics they’ve either inherited or learned from us.
And sometimes when we see in them what has come from us it breaks our hearts.
The beginning of our consolation and hope for change is based in a better Father whose love never scars.
A few years ago we were at a wedding in Augusta, Georgia. My daughter was six at the time, old enough to figure out that she loved to dance. As we walked through the doors of the reception, she made a beeline to the dance floor and was by far the first one out there. It’s funny how different your children can be from you. My happy place at a wedding is in the corner with a plate full of food and a beverage in my hand. Hers is the dance floor.
As she was dancing, a few older girls showed up, and they really knew how to dance. And as they started breaking it down, I watched my daughter crumple on the dance floor, eyes burning like lasers through these girls. I could tell she was angry, jealous, and insecure. Later as we climbed into the minivan (I could write a whole other chapter on the shame of owning a minivan) to head home, she was still upset. I asked her what was wrong, doing that thing parents do when they try not to laugh and cry at the same time.
Through gritted teeth, she said, “Those girls. I hate those girls. They’re better dancers than me.” And my heart broke. Not because those girls could dance, but because I saw the same perfectionism I’ve lived with for almost thirty-five years worming its way into the heart of my six- year-old daughter. That perfectionism robs all joy because it fixates you so desperately on your own performance, with the promise that if you can just be perfect everything will be okay. What perfectionism doesn’t tell you is that nothing will ever be perfect, you most of all.
Anne Lamott wrote, “Perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully enough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”
Sammy Rhodes, This Is Awkward, Thomas Nelson, 2016, pgs 28-29.