The Words Of Hyung Jin Moon
Courage to Admit Imperfection
Hyung Jin Moon
October 6, 2007
Mapo Church, Korea
When I was at the Divinity School we always liked to look at religious jokes. We found it a good way to have a sense of humor about being religious. And you know that's very important to have a sense of humor in our lives. So I like to always start the service with just a little fun thing, OK?
So let's do that. You know I heard a wonderful story, very interesting: There was a 19th Century German philosopher. I'm sure when you go to college a lot of you will study him. His name was Friedrich Nietzsche. He wrote a lot of works but one of his most classic works was a work called 'Thus Spoke Zarathustra.'
And of course if you know, in that work he made the proclamation that, "God is dead." He said that statement. That became a very powerful statement and a very controversial statement during his lifetime. But I heard that in his office - he had a nice wooden office with a nice wooden table - and above that table he had a huge sign, a sign which he wrote and framed in gold, a sign that said, "God is Dead", signed Nietzsche.
Now at that moment when he put that frame up, he was admiring it, looking at the beautiful gold, thinking about his brilliance as a philosopher, and he suddenly had a heart attack. He immediately woke up at the pearly gates. He was at the Pearly Gates now. And he said, "Let me in these pearly gates!"
Now the gates opened and before him was a bellowing cloud. There was a cloud of mist. And he walked through that cloud. And when he passed through the mist, he saw a room just like his, an office just like his. However, it was not wood; it was plated in gold, made of solid gold. And above that desk that looked just like his, above that golden desk, was a sign that said, "Nietzsche is Dead" and signed "God."
Alright! Alright, everybody, right now we'd like to take the time to have a declaration. Please stand, please all rise. Let's do this together now. If you have a picture of True Parents you can take it out. If you don't, just think of True Parents. And we can place our hands on our hearts and let's read this together:
"These are my True Parents, the eternal king and queen of peace, and liberator of God's heart. They have saved me from my past. They have blessed my future, and they gave me true love, forgiveness and happiness today and I choose to receive it! My mind is awake, my heart is open wide, and from this moment I change forever! In my name, Aju!"
Thank you everybody, please take a seat. Today, what I'd like to talk to you about is the notion or principle of having the courage to admit our imperfections. You know, when I began ministry I started meeting such wonderful people in music ministry and the staff ministry that is here.
I was walking with Father one day, and he was holding my hand, and I told him about what we were doing. He looked over to me and said, "It's very important that whenever you stand in front of people, you always remember that you are imperfect in some way." OK? Now, he told me this and he said that this is also what he does as a practice.
Now when I heard this, I was filled with the realization that - yes, it's so essential to learn to have a heart of humility, particularly when we have to stand in front of other brothers and sisters. This is of course not to think negatively of ourselves or to beat ourselves down or be overly self-critical, but it is to understand that we have room for growth.
You see it's very interesting: in the Principle, we hear about individual perfection. In the Chinese or Korean there is a word "wanseong," which we translate as "perfection." However in the West, when we say the word "perfection," it means you are totally flawless, right? I saw a beautiful bumper sticker. It said: "The next time you think you are perfect, try walking on water."
It's just like that. We all know that we are not perfect. We know we have imperfections. In the principle when you look at that word perfection/wanseong, it's different from (another Korean word) 'wanbyeok.' Those are two very different words. "Wanbyeok" would be closer to 'perfection' as we understand it in the West: completely flawless, without stain, etc.
'Wanseong' is closer to 'completing', or even, if we translate it in the west, to something like, 'self-mastery' or a deeper, 'self-actualization'. The word (Chinese character) 'seong' means 'to actualize.' OK? So maybe 'self-actualization' would be a better translation. When we look at that, it's so important, that we understand that when we reach individual perfection, even from a principled perspective, it doesn't mean we are flawless. It doesn't mean that we are going to be running around on water, and it doesn't mean that if we trip on a log, we won't fall down. OK?
What it does mean is that it's a beginning. Individual perfection is just the beginning of the 2nd Blessing which is the perfection of the family. So as we know in our DP lectures, we've heard it a million times: when they reached individual perfection, Adam and Eve would have been ready to receive the Blessing.
In that sense, it's not an end. It's not something that we are totally done with and we can put our bags away. No, it's actually a beginning. We are now mature. We are now actualized to some degree that we can enter into a powerful conjugal relationship that has respect, that has honoring each other, that has appreciation and acknowledgment of the other.
See, it really is more like mastery or a maturity. In our lives, because we have to stand in the public often, we feel a lot of pressure as well, as people. You know, sometimes we have the pressure of 'being perfect'. People look up to us as a model. They look up to us as an example.
So many times we are pressured to really feel that we have to be totally perfect in that sense, totally flawless, totally without stain. And I remember one time, my beautiful and gorgeous and exquisite wife (I will add more superlatives later), was once feeling very stressed over this fact, particularly about our parenting. Because now we are standing in public and a lot of people are viewing us -- how we deal with our children, what practices we have with our children -- then it becomes a lot more pressure arising on our shoulders.
And one time she was expressing that frustration, a little bit of stress. And I told her, "You are a great mom. You are doing so much, and you should just be yourself, because that's what I love. And that's what your children love." It was so important because, it's so easy for us to want to pretend that we are perfect or that we absolutely do everything right.
But that would not be the case. We are also human. We make mistakes with our children. We make mistakes in our relationship, etc. But that doesn't stop the relationship. It doesn't destroy the relationship with our children. Whenever we have a relationship there is always going to be some kind of misunderstanding. But in fact those obstacles can become times when we can deepen our friendship, deepen our love for each other, and deepen our respect.
I told her that she was trying harder (than anyone else).She reads so much on parenting. She not only does that. I'm so proud of her. She goes and when she talks to other parents she asks them what they're doing with their kids. It's such a sign of humility.
I said, "You are doing more than 99% of parents in the world. You are trying, you are exerting your effort, and you have to know that I am proud of you, that I am learning from you, that I am inspired by you, and that I find a deep honor and respect in being able to be your husband."
You know, I heard a story about a perfect dad. He always was trying to be strong in front of his kids. And that's always a good thing. However, it was to a point that the kids actually believed that he was perfect. They actually believed that the dad had absolutely no trouble in his life, that he had absolutely no obstacles that he faced.
Then one time the son was growing up and he was encountering times of difficulty. His friends weren't accepting him well, he was being made fun of at school, he was going through a rough time. In that time of difficulty he found it hard, even harder. What he found was that because he continued to compare himself with the image of his father, which was very strong, which was never shaken, which was never weak, he found himself criticizing and attacking himself. He found himself saying to himself, "You're not a man. You're not man enough. You're never going to amount enough to anything. You're lazy. Everybody doesn't like you." He found himself saying such things constantly.
Eventually he ended up resenting his father for always painting such a difficult image that he could never reach. Sadly, when his father was on his deathbed at advanced age none of the children came to see him. And this was because all the children believed that he could even be stronger than death, that he was even more powerful than death.
Of course, when we look at such a story, what we want to understand from such a story is that admitting imperfection is not weakness. Of course, we don't want to go overboard and keep attacking ourselves; that's counterproductive; but admitting that we have places to grow is not a weakness, it's a strength.
Research shows that showing and admitting that one doesn't know everything or that one still has room for growth and improvement or that one encounters difficulty is helpful when raising or working with people.
There was a study that showed groups of parents - one group of parents who admitted to their children that they didn't know everything and another group of parents who would usually pretend that they knew everything. When kids asked them about science, they would say, "You know in biology -- bla-bla-bla." When kids asked them about history, they would say, "You know in American history -- bla-bla-bla." So that the children would more and more believe that their father was omniscient.
However what does this teach children or even friends? When you are able to admit your imperfection, what it teaches our children is that in reality of life we will all have times and we will all have places of growth. They need to occur.
It teaches them not to condemn themselves when they're encountering difficulty, not to become overly self-critical to the point when they become paralyzed or not able to move, immobilized. In times of difficulty children of parents who admitted imperfection were less judgmental of themselves and able to get over obstacles more quickly and return to work or school or their lives rather faster than children of parents who always pretended that they were perfect.
Children who had parents who were always "perfect" exhibited lower self-esteem and had more cases of depression because they ended up comparing themselves with this idealized image of their parents and thus they were more self-judgmental when they encountered struggles.
I remember a time when I and my wife had some disagreement. I can't remember what it was about, but we were in Korea, we had some disagreement and our baby-girl was sitting in the same room. So, here we are having tea. You know, I practiced tea ceremony, so I'm serving her tea. We're discussing something, we don't necessarily agree on that topic. But my daughter was there, and as soon as she felt the disagreement her eyes went up, her radars went open. She realized something was off.
Now it's important at that moment we had a choice: on the one hand we could say, "OK, let's stop this. The child is watching, let's stop it. It's not a good example to show that we disagree in front of the child. Let's stop." But we decided not to do that, we decided in fact to continue the discussion. Of course, the key point here is (that we did it) without anger, without sarcasm, without attacking the other person. That's really a key.
Now, my daughter was sitting there all time, listening super attentively. I think her ears grew about 20 cm in both directions. At first she sensed something was strange, of course she pretended not to listen, but we knew she was listening. This conversation continued for about20 minutes.
Now, you know, it's not easy for children at the age of 5 to sit still for 20 minutes, but she was still as a rock. She was listening to every detail, every tone of voice, every inflection, everything, checking whether or not it was OK. We ended up speaking for 20, maybe 30 minutes and the conversation came to a good conclusion.
There was a good resolution and in the end we verbally expressed that we were happy that we discussed it and that we loved each other. We verbally expressed and confirmed that we still loved each other. Now for me this is very important because children who have parents who never disagree in front of them when they're obviously angry at each other; what do they learn?
They learn to suppress emotion. "When you have trouble suppress it. Don't discuss it? Suppress it. That's what daddy and mommy always did. That's what we have to do." So, children who have such parents never learn to discuss, to show the reality. All of you when you get blessed, when you get married will quickly realize that there will be disagreements in life.
Absolutely, a hundred percent, I guarantee it. Not every day, don't make it everyday, but once in a while you'll have it. However when they do it they don't learn how to make a win-win solution. They don't learn how to make resolution after disagreement. Many times the relationship is broken.
Many times the relationship gets weaker or maybe anger can go into the crack. Anger or maybe the sense of wanting to get back at the wife or the husband can infiltrate into that crack and really start damaging not only our marriage, but also the reality and environment that our children have to live in.
It is important to show children, that in relationships it is normal to sometimes disagree. It's absolutely normal. There is no happy couple in the world -- and you can search your entire life -- that always agrees with each other, that is always smiling, that is never encountering any obstacles, there is none whatsoever.
When you are engaged in a close relationship there are obstacles that arise, but those obstacles need not be marriage-destroying. They actually can be opportunities for closer bonds. So when we show children that it's normal to disagree, we show them that it's OK to some extent to have some imperfection, that we all have places to grow, and meanwhile we do not get angry, sarcastic, we respect each other, create good resolution through understanding each other, and we still love each other after the disagreement.
We show that love is stronger than the disagreement, than the argument, love is stronger than whatever we were frustrated about. This teaches people that we may be mentoring or even children that we are guiding that when they have a disagreement with friends, family, or even their future spouse, they can work it out. It's not the end of the relationship because you disagree.
You can still work it out. You can still find a resolution, rather than not expressing it, and building resentment towards the other person. It's very important in all of our relationships, and we all have relationships, we're interconnected, we're tied to certain people and also to certain groups. So it's important that we understand this principle.
Of course this is not to say that we should deliberately try to argue in front of your kids. Don't try to argue in front of your kids more, OK? That's not a good thing. Let's say that you are disagreeing and they happened to be there. Then make the choice to make that opportunity, a teaching example, an example where they can learn a skill. They can learn that in a relationship you can make a resolution and that love is more powerful than that disagreement.
I know a teacher and a son. The teacher was a first generation member, and she was involved in the education of young kids -- this was I think about elementary school level -- and she had a wonderful family, but one of her sons gave her so much trouble.
She nagged him and said, "Boy, you aren't going to amount to anything. Boy, why aren't you studying? Pick up a pencil and do some math" and whatever she was saying. But he continued to have trouble.
In his adolescence, his teenage years, he became a troubled youth. He had trouble with his relationships at home. He tried to avoid the church. He resented a lot of things. But after the mom took some education classes, she realized that she was harming him by constantly doubting him, by constantly nagging him. Actually, she realized that she didn't have to nag him.
It was actually because she was frustrated or maybe angry that day that it just came out. However, once she recognized she was doing that, she stopped and apologized. She admitted to her child her imperfection. But she didn't only do that, because that's not enough. She went out of her way to make the investment for change.
I'd rather suffer a little period of time than suffer the rest of my life. It's so important that when we start changing bad habits, or start changing imperfections into stronger properties or characteristics of our life, then there is a time; there will be a season of difficulty. There will be a season where it's hard to change that -- to stop nagging our kids or to stop saying this to our friend, or stop making fun of our peer.
It may be hard to change at first, but that initial pain of changeover will pass. That season will pass. But if we do that, if we make the investment in change, we will be much easier to live with. In this particular family, the children are delighted that the mother took the steps. The children also found that as the mother stopped nagging them, they started attacking her more.
They noticed that they started saying things like, "Mom, you are a terrible Mom." Because she wasn't nagging them any more, "Mom, you always verbally attack us." But once they realized that that was not helping her or even helping themselves, they grew out of that immaturity and were able to mature.
Because they did so, now that family has strong relationships. When I look at them they are an inspiration to me. When other families look at them, they are a great inspiration. The son is actually at Harvard now and he's doing a fantastic job. I met him when I was in the States. Excellent person.
So what can we learn today? Admitting imperfection can be our strength. It can be an asset. It reminds us that we have the opportunity to grow and improve. All of us do. I do. You do. Everybody does. Everybody has more to grow in, to learn from.
We don't want to use imperfection as an excuse not to change. We can find ourselves doing that. "Oh you know what? I'm imperfect so just live with me. I'm imperfect so just accept that I yell at you a lot. I'm imperfect so just accept the fact that every time you come in, I'm gonna hit you on the head with a stick."
We don't want to do that. That's not the proper use of understanding and identifying our weakness. That's very easy to do. Instead of doing that, we should, when we identify our imperfections, use that as a tool for illumination. To know where we can build in character, where we can build in maturity, where we can build in strength and victory in our lives. But getting overly critical, let's make the point, and getting negative with ourselves is counterproductive.
We have to know that our imperfections are things that we can work on, that we can improve. But continuing to see them and festering on them and continuing to attack ourselves is counterproductive. We don't want to do that. We want to identify the weakness and improve it. That's a very important step.
When we understand and realize our strengths, when we understand the areas of improvement, we become wiser. We learn how to utilize the strengths and weaknesses, so that our general character can become more mature.
So it's OK, let's remember as parents, it's OK to show that you're imperfect in the sense that maybe you disagree with your spouse at times. I'm not talking about large imperfections. Those things require many times repentance. If there are families where there's physical abuse between the spouses, mental, verbal abuse, etc., those are major imperfections. And those things have to be dealt with many times professionally.
Many times those have to be dealt with through intervention. But I'm talking about the smaller imperfections, OK? The fact that we may do something that aggravates our spouse -- those kinds of things, we should understand, are things that we can build on, create more strength. Let's identify those weaknesses and make them into strengths.
So, I always like to end my sermon or service by reminding all that we are nothing other than VIPs. When True Parents see us, when God sees us, they don't see a failure, don't see somebody who never does well, or someone to whom nothing ever good happens. "Nothing good ever happens to me. I always fail at whatever I do. I'm always encountering obstacles. People are always against me. I'm always being put down.
"No. That's the way we perceive ourselves. We should look at ourselves the way God sees us. What that means is that when you see yourself, start looking at yourself with eyes of God and True Parents. When they see us, they see somebody with divine value, cosmic value, and unique value.
Let's see somebody who is a VIP. A VIP, remember, stands for Victory, Illumination, and Peace. We are victors, we are victorious. We are illuminated, we are illuminating. And we have peace in our lives. We have to build it, and we will extend peace to the world as well.
So I want to encourage you all to remember that although we may have imperfections, the story is not over. Our lives continue. Let's keep building. Let's keep having more victory in our lives.
Until next week, let's have a little more victory in our lives. Let's have a little more illumination in our lives. And until next week let's have a little more peace in our hearts and in the hearts of people around us. OK? Can you receive this today? OK, thank you brothers and sisters.