On Being Perfect

True royalty requires vigorous self-mastery

While waiting in line at a supermarket, I stole a peek inside a gossip magazine. A title, The Pressure of Being Perfect, and a picture of Princess Kate, all smiles, had caught my attention. I realize the world holds a materialistic concept of perfection, but here was an opportunity to see the common notion of it trumped by a royal flush. I couldn’t resist.

My wait was of course limited, so I quickly flipped pages to the article’s description of her “pressures.” First was her having to wake every morning and remember her official name: Princess Catherine (Kate) Elizabeth Middleton-Windsor, Duchess of Cambridge; and naturally her husband’s: Prince William Arthur Phillip Louis Windsor, second in line to the throne of England.

After the usual grooming issues as to what clothes, hair style, hat, and shoes to wear, and then looking in on her three children with their governess, she rushes through a high protein breakfast, and then listens to her private secretary brief her on the calendar of events — that schedule of perfunctory royal duties crammed into every single hour of every day, Sundays included. That alone was maybe enough to cause Prince Harry and Meghan to bolt for California.

Kate’s schedule is even busier now than before that hapless couple abandoned the U.K. Her royal calendar shows her as guest speaker at a flower and garden show at 9:00 am, at a charity bazaar at 10:30, attending a fashion show at 11:30, moderating a marathon for mental health after a quick tofu luncheon, then off to the horse races where she’d finally meet up with her husband and children, all draped with binoculars and riding gear. Her secretary would text a reminder that a popular talk show interview awaits her at 4:00 pm. After that, a meeting with the Queen for dinner with William and the three children.

Whew! Not sure I could stand all that pressure every day.

Back in my supermarket, when the counter clerk waved me forward, I shelved the gossip rag about the royal duties Kate endures in her role as princess and future queen.

As I emptied my push cart on the counter belt, I asked the clerk what she thought about the royal life that Princess Kate has to suffer. She rolled her eyes and said, “Poor baby.”

After checking the price for rutabaga, she said, “Somewhere in the bible it says we have to be perfect, but I don’t think Jesus meant wearing flawless fashions at horse races.”

We both laughed. Then she noticed that my food selections were all grains, fruits, and vegetables. “Don’t you eat meat?” she asked. I shook my head. Being much overweight, she said, “I don’t know what it takes, but I can see you’re keeping fit. Too hard for me to keep away from junk food. The devil makes me do things I shouldn’t, like eating too much chocolate. Even my being born a princess couldn’t help me really be one.”

I smiled and nodded, as I slipped my debit card into the slot. She had touched on the real meaning of you must be perfect, even as your heavenly father is perfect (Matt 5:48). I pushed my grocery cart out of the store, reflecting on that verse.

Spiritual perfection seems to require much more than obliging a list of speaking engagements and fashion expectations. To forgive one’s enemies, forego vengeance, and be content and appreciative of life must require much nobler conduct of us. History lists many who sought to rule the world but failed to conquer themselves. I’m thinking true royalty doesn’t require a title, whether inherited, espoused, or purchased, but instead requires vigorous self-mastery over this unruly flesh of ours.

But at that precise moment, a gorgeous young lady passed by, and I struggled to keep possession of my eyes. This was going to be tough.


Richard M. DellOrfano spent ten years on a cross-country pilgrimage following Christ’s instruction to minister without possessions. He is completing his autobiography: Path Perilous, My Search for God and the Miraculous.

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