taking the analogy a little further

I just read an analogy, comparing people to roses:
When we beat ourselves up for having bent our petal, or for our edges not being as smooth as the petal next to us, we are devaluing the beauty and perfection that lies beyond ourselves. I don’t think God cares so much about the marks on us nearly as much as we do- because he sees the whole rose, and knows if the petals were all perfect, the rose would not be so beautiful, not so perfect as a finished masterpiece. It’s the differences and so-called flaws that create the beauty.
I agree with most of this, but I want to take the analogy a step further.  Before I do, however, I want to tell you a little about how I picked a florist for my wedding.

There were three florists that people we knew swore by--and I swear they all used that phrase.  People are surprisingly opinionated about such things.  I mean, I knew I was, but I also like reading the plaques at arboretums, talk to plants, and literally hug trees, so I'm not exactly a good example of normal.  Anyway--three florists.

One was in the Valley, close to hollywood, if not in it.  I liked their style for the most part, but not their people or their prices.  They kept name-dropping this one show for which they were doing flowers.  They were super busy, weren't planning a demo until we pestered them the morning we were coming (and we weren't asking for something free), and it took them forever to get back to us.  Easy no.

The next one was in a local shopping center, tops ten minutes away by car.  Their flowers weren't very fresh, and they put together the demo as we spoke with them.  Prices were reasonable, and local is nice, so we kept them in the running.

But then we went to Marisol's.  It was a hike in the back hills--not too far, but the roads were old and windy.  She had a beautiful demo waiting for us, a refrigerator displaying work for a relative's wedding the following day, and was pleasant and helpful.  The shop was tiny and wonderful, she took copious notes, and used her computer to find examples for us.  The thing that struck me the most, however, was her constant primping and adjusting: if a rose had a bent pedal on the outside, she would gently tear it off so the flowers would look their best.

Alright, now back to the analogy.  I think variation is beautiful--odd ridges and ruffles on flower pedals contribute to a flower's overall beauty.  I also think it's important to distinguish between faults and variation.  To me, having wide set eyes, a funny laugh, or a foreign approach to problems is part of individual variation that makes humanity beautiful.  People should love and accept their variations.  Faults, however, are things that people can and should work to improve.  I would categorize selfishness, sloth, and close-mindedness as faults.

Part of the trickiness of faults is that they are very subjective; say I had asked a friend out to lunch, but lost my job after setting everything up.  Would it be selfish of them to expect me to pay?  How about if they didn't know about my joblessness?  How about if they did?  What if they were my ex-boss?  What if they were an ex-significant other who had just received a bonus at the same workplace?  People have different opinions on these things because it's a fuzzy business.

Remember the original analogy was person:rose petal::community:rose.  My proposed analogy is person:rose::community:rosebush.

As individuals, we can tenderly remove the broken and bent petals as long as it doesn't ruin the flower.  That is to say, people should work on their faults (as defined by themselves, not by others), but they shouldn't be too hard on themselves--everything from the above quote still applies.  It's okay to make yourself better, but don't lose yourself, and only make changes as you're ready for them.  In other words, don't get rid of the pretty half-sepal half-petal that's all warbly, just the browning or broken bits that will come off easily.  Or maybe I should just leave analogies be.

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