Imperfection is perfection in the wisdom of creation. If God so wishes to make HIS creations as perfect beings HE could have possibly and willingly done so. Nonetheless, HE decided otherwise, all with a vision of the Perfect Creator.
In fact, what HE asserts is that HE creates human in the “finest state”, namely aḥsan taqwīm, not a perfect state. God says, “We have created man in the finest state. Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low. Except those who believed and did good deeds, because for them there is a reward never ending.” (al-Qur’ān, al-Tīn (95): 4-6).
Here, Allah the Creator endowed human with the potentiality of both, striving within the oscillation of being at the best and highest of the high, as well as the lowest of the low. Human continues to do righteous deeds, but often fails to do so. Nonetheless, he is capable of rising back and standing up again, in continuous endeavors to do good deeds, innate in him. And in so doing, he discovers himself, and finds beauty and satisfaction in his struggle. That is the beauty and perfection of imperfections.
We fathers are imperfect. And we must not pretend that we can possibly be perfect. Similarly, we must not expect our children to be perfect. In these imperfections are opportunities to continuously improve ourselves, and to soar higher. We have and will certainly fail to fulfil fully our roles and responsibilities as fathers. But we will rise up again and again. And when we do that, our children are observing and learning this essential and existential quality of us, human beings, and in discharging our role as fathers.
Here lies humility. Humility is the power and strength to acknowledge our vulnerabilities. Humility is the fuel for us to want to continue to learn, unlearn and relearn, and to improve ourselves.
What we should be doing is not to expect ourselves to be the best fathers. But rather to exhibit humility. And this we do by continuously improving ourselves, unlearning and relearning. There are plenty of learning opportunities in the society. How we communicate with our children, knowing our personality and profiles and of our children’s helps us engage and communicate with our children appropriately, learning to manage our finance, and various other skills and competencies. These opportunities are abundant. Don’t seek to perfect yourself, but seek to continuously learn: a lifelong journey indeed. Life is a journey, and in this journey, one finds one’s self. This journey is not about arrival, as much as it is about discoveries.
Life is all about test and tribulations. Allah the Creator emphasized this, “Glorious is the One in whose hand is the Kingdom (of the whole universe), and HE is Powerful over every thing. The One who created death and life, so that HE may test you as to which of you is better (finer) in his deeds. And HE is the All-Mighty, the Most-Forgiving.” This is such an instructive assertion by the Creator Himself. HE seeks not quantity of your deeds, nor perfection. He seeks the quality of your deeds, the finest or the best (aḥsan) you can give. And for all your imperfections, or the inability to satisfy “yet” the best, HE is the Most-Forgiving.
Each of us, without exception, is tested. Whether you are rich or poor, educated or uneducated, ustaz or non-ustaz, abled or disabled, all and everyone is tested in various ways and forms HE Himself knows best. And HE does not burden one beyond one’s power and capability.
Because each of us is tested and imperfect, don’t compare with others. We look and we learn, But we don’t compare. Similarly, we don’t compare our children with others. When we do that, our children will also compare us fathers with the others. And we will fall into the anxieties of unmet expectations.
Again, I wish to emphasize humility. Strong indeed is one who is willing to acknowledge one’s weaknesses and vulnerabilities; and the strength to seek help. A hero is not one who needs no support, nor seeks no help. A hero is one who recognizes his vulnerability and humbly seeks help from others. Don’t think that you can fix all the problems, but you know that you are not facing these life tests and tribulations alone.
A call for action: reach out to fellow fathers. Seek help from relevant people and organizations like Centre For Fathering (http://www.bshsekolahbapa.com). Seek to continue to learn, unlearn and relearn. Don’t shy away from challenges. You will discover your potentials, your true abilities, and the beauty of fathering. The beauty is in your imperfections.