You Don't Have To Be Perfect
The Missing Piece (by Shel Silverstein) tells the story of a circle that was missing a piece.
A large triangular wedge had been cut out of it. The circle wanted to be whole with nothing missing, so it went around looking for its missing piece. But because it was incomplete
and therefore could roll only very slowly, it admired the flowers along the way.
It chatted with worms. It enjoyed the sunshine. It found lots of different pieces, but none
of them fit. So it left them all by the side of the road and kept on searching. Then one day
the circle found a piece that fit perfectly. It was so happy. Now it could be whole, with
nothing missing. It incorporated the missing piece into itself and began to roll. Now that it
was a perfect circle, it could roll very fast, too fast to notice the flowers or talk to the
When it realized how different the world seemed when it rolled so quickly, it stopped, left
its found piece by the side of the road and rolled slowly away.
The lesson of the story was that in some strange sense we are more whole when we are
missing something. The man who has everything is in some ways a poor man. He will
never know what it feels like to yearn, to hope, to nourish his soul with the dream of
something better. He will never know the experience of having someone who loves him
give him something he has always wanted and never had. There is a wholeness about the
person who has come to terms with his limitations, who has been brave enough to let go of
his unrealistic dreams and not feel like a failure for doing so. There is a wholeness about
the man or woman who has learned that he or she is strong enough to go through a tragedy
and survive, who can lose someone and still feel like a complete person.
When we accept that imperfection is part of being human, and when we can continue rolling
through life and appreciating it, we will have achieved a wholeness that others can only aspire to.
That, I believe, is what God asks of us - not "Be perfect," not "Don't ever
make a mistake," but "Be whole." And at the end, if we are brave enough to love, strong
enough to forgive, generous enough to rejoice in another's happiness, and wise enough to
know there is enough love to go around for us all, then we can achieve a fulfillment that no
other living creature will ever know.