Saturday, October 29, 2011

Be Imperfect. Be Real.

This is an article someone brought to my small group on Thursday, and it's kinda amazing. Read it, really. It's so worth the time!
As a warning, the following post was written in complete desperation. I have recently learned some very sobering truths from people that I love dearly. These truths have set in motion a quest within me to do whatever I can to make a change. Today is not geared at funny. Today is geared at something greater. Read it to the very end. I promise you will be affected in a way you have always needed to be. I spent more than twelve hours writing this post because its message is that important to me.
I wonder. Am I the only one aware that there is an infectious mental disease laying siege on us right now? There is a serious pandemic of “Perfection” spreading, and it needs to stop. Hear me out because this is something for which I am passionately and constantly hurting. It’s a sickness that I’ve been trying to put into words for years without much success. It’s a sickness that I have personally struggled with. It’s a sickness that at times has left me hiding in dark corners and hating myself.
And chances are it’s hit you too.
What is the disease called ”Perfection”? Perhaps a list of its real-life symptoms will help you better understand it. We live in communities where people feel unconquerable amounts of pressure to always appear perfectly happy, perfectly functional, and perfectly figured. “Perfection” is much different than perfectionism. The following examples of “Perfection” are all real examples that I have collected from experiences in my own life, from confidential sources, or from my circle of loved ones and friends. If you actually stop to think about some of these, you will cry as I did while writing it. If you don’t, maybe you’re infected with way too much of this ”Perfection” infection.
“Perfection” is a wife who feels trapped in a marriage to a lazy, angry, small man, but at soccer practice tells the other wives how wonderful her husband always is. “Perfection” keeps people from telling the truth, even to themselves. My husband is adorable. He called me a whore this week because I smiled at a stranger. When I started crying, he said he had a game to go watch. I love him so much.
“Perfection” is a husband who is belittled, unappreciated, and abused by his wife, yet works endlessly to make his marriage appear incredible to those around him. ”Perfection” really does keep people from being real about the truth.  You would have laughed, guys. She said that I suck at my job and will never go anywhere in life. Then she insinuated that I was a fat, rotting pile of crap. Isn’t she the best?
“Perfection” is a daughter with an eating disorder that keeps it hidden for years because she doesn’t want to be the first among her family and friends to be imperfect. She would give anything to confront it, but she can’t because then the “Perfect” people would hate her as much as she hates herself for it.
“Perfection” is when a son has a forbidden addiction, and despises himself for it. “Perfection” makes us believe that nobody else could understand what it is like to be weak and fall prey to the pressures of the world.
“Perfection” is a man who loathes himself for feeling unwanted attraction toward other men.
“Perfection” is a couple drowning in debt, but who still agree to that cruise with their friends because the words “we don’t have the money” are impossible ones to push across their lips.
“Perfection” is a mom hating herself because she only sees that every other mom around her is the perfect mother, the perfect wife, and the perfect neighbor. I’d give anything to be Mrs. Jones. Today she ran 34 miles, cooked six complete meals, participated in a two-hour activity with each of her seven children, hosted a marriage class with her husband, and still had time to show up for Bunco. What this mom doesn’t know is that Mrs. Jones is also at home crying right now because the pressure to be “Perfect” never lets up.
“Perfection” is a dad hating himself because he can’t give the same thing to his kids that other dads do, and then hates himself further because he takes his self-loathing out on his kids behind closed doors. You know what would have been nice? If you were never born. Do you realize how much money I’d have right now? Now come give Daddy a hug because I can force you to give me validation.
“Perfection” is a child hating herself because the boys at school call her fat, and when she goes home she tells her mom that school was fine. Her mom never stops to question why her daughter doesn’t have any friends, because her mom doesn’t want to think that anything might be less than “Perfect”.
“Perfection” is a man feeling like a smaller man because his neighbor just pulled in with a new boat.
“Perfection” is a woman who is so overwhelmed that she thinks about killing herself daily. “Perfection” makes it so that she never will because of the things people will think if she does. How could I make my suicide look like an accident? If I kill myself, I don’t want anybody knowing that I ever had any problems. She never stops to look at why she wants to do it, because healing means admitting imperfection.
“Perfection” is a man who everybody heralds as perfect, and inside he is screaming to be seen as the faulty human being that he always has been. Because to no longer be “the perfect one”, that would be freeing.
“Perfection” is a woman having an affair because she’s too afraid to confront the imperfection in her marriage.
“Perfection” is a twelve-year-old boy killing himself because he is ashamed that he can’t stop masturbating.
Stop, and read that one again.
There is a twelve-year-old boy buried 20 miles from where I sit because the “Perfection” that has infected the people around him infected him to the point that he deemed his own life worthless. “Perfection” pushed him to take his own life over something most of us would consider negligible in the life of any teenage boy.
“Perfection” is my friend’s cousin swallowing hundreds of pills because she just got the news that she was pregnant, out of wedlock, and the shame was too much to bear. She was only attempting to cause a miscarriage. 24 hours later, she closed her eyes and never opened them again. She is dead because of the “Perfection” infecting those around her. We’d rather you die than shame this family. Thanks for taking care of that, honey. By the way, we’ll do the right thing and make ourselves out to be the victims now. We have to. We’re infected with “Perfection”.
I could go on. This is all a small sampling of the disease called “Perfection”. You have brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, extended family members, neighbors, friends, and children who are ALL these things, yet none of us will ever know. “Perfection” is a hideous monster with a really beautiful face. And chances are you’re infected. The good news is, there is a cure.
Be real.
Embrace that you have weakness. Because everybody does. Embrace that your body is not perfect. Because nobody’s is. Embrace that you have things you can’t control. We all have a list of them.
Here’s your wake-up call:
You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes.
You aren’t the only one who took your frustrations out on your children today.
You aren’t the only one who isn’t making enough money to support your lifestyle.
You aren’t the only one who has questions and doubts about your religion.
You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.
You aren’t the only one who feels trapped in your marriage.
You aren’t the only one who gets down and hates yourself and you can’t figure out why.
You aren’t the only one that questions your sexual orientation.
You aren’t the only one who hates your body.
You aren’t the only one that can’t control yourself around food.
Your husband is not the only husband who’s addiction sends him online for his sexual fulfillment instead of to you.
Your wife is not the only wife that is mean and vindictive and makes you hate yourself.
Why didn’t somebody, anybody, put their arm around that 12-year old boy and let him know that they loved him and would always love him? What was he being told and taught that he would end his own life over something that almost no teenager can control? Maybe that beautiful and wonderful boy would still be alive if even one person had broken down the “Perfection” that completely controlled all those in his life from whom he desperately craved validation.
Why didn’t somebody, anybody, tell a beautiful pregnant girl that there was nothing so big in life that it couldn’t be made right. Maybe that incredible young woman would still be alive. Maybe her now one-year-old child would be learning to walk or say “Mommy” right now. Maybe.
The cure is so simple.
Be real.
Be bold about your weaknesses and you will change people’s lives. Be honest about who you actually are, and others will begin to be their actual selves around you. Once you cure yourself of the disease, others will come to you, asking if they can just “talk”. People are desperate to talk. Some of the most “perfect” people around you will tell you of some of the greatest struggles going on. Some of the most “perfect” people around you will break down in tears as they tell you how difficult life is for them. Turns out some of the most “perfect” people around us are human beings after all, and are dying to talk to another human being about it.
You’ll love them for it. And you’ll love yourself even more.
Let’s not forget this quote: “I went out to find a friend and could not find one there. I went out to be a friend, and friends were everywhere.” Somebody who is being a friend doesn’t spread “Perfection”. Somebody who is being a friend spreads “Real”. Then, and only then, can we all grow together.
I am not perfect, nor do I want anybody to think of me as such. Here’s my dose of real:
I once stole a box of money that was meant for a child with cancer. There was more than $150 inside. That was 12 years ago, and I still hate the person in me that did that.
I believe in God, but not religion. It took me 30 years to find the courage to say that. It took me 30 years to believe that I could be a good man and still believe that.
I once got so angry at my wife that I hit the wall. The dent is still there, haunting me every time I see it because I never thought that was something I would do.
I once sat in my bedroom crying uncontrollably because I felt like everybody thought I was fat and ugly. I was a full grown man.
There are some people I avoid bumping into in public because I feel like I’m not as good as them.
I judge people harshly who share the same features that I hate about myself.
Sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes I’m not funny. Sometimes I just want to be alone. Sometimes I stay at home on a weekend because I just don’t want to see the “Perfection” going on around me. Sometimes I want to drop-kick a perfect person’s head across the room.
“Perfection” infects every corner of society. It infects our schools. It infects neighborhoods. It infects our workplaces. This is not to say that there aren’t a lot of genuinely, happy people. I am one of those people. Most of the time. There is nothing more beautiful than a person finding true happiness in who they are and what they believe. No, this is not me trying to diminish the happiness in others. This is merely me pathetically attempting to put a face on a problem that I see everywhere but few people ever notice.
This is me, weeping as I write, asking the good people of the world to find somebody to put their arm around and be “real”. This is me, wishing that people would realize how beautiful they are, even with all of their imperfections. This is me, sad and desperate for the girls in this world to love themselves. This is me, a very imperfect man, trying to help others feel a little more perfect by asking you to act a little less perfect.
Will you help me spread “Real”? Tell us below just how perfect you aren’t. You never know who might be alive tomorrow because you were real today. You never know who needs to feel like they aren’t alone in their inability to be perfect. Even if you comment as an anonymous guest, please comment. Tell us what you struggle with. Tell a sad or dark secret. Get vulnerable. Get real. Let’s see if we can get 1,000 people showing the world that we’re not defined by perfection.
And please, please please share this post. If you want the people around you to start being real, you have to be real first. If it’s your first time here, we’d love to have you follow us. I promise it’s not always this intense (or nearly this long). I’ll post something really funny tomorrow.


There's a lot of processing to do after reading that. I feel like I've known for so long that the desire to be perfect is taking over so many people's live. It's something I have struggled majorly with in the past. But even though it is a problem I have recognized, I didn't realize just how serious it is. I didn't realize how much it takes over people's lives. I attributed many problems to this "disease of perfection," but mostly I attributed more physical problems, like eating disorders or body insecurity, and problems with not being smart enough, getting good enough grades, doing well enough in a job-situation, etc. This blog showed how nearly every problem can be traced back to a deep desire to be perfect, and never being capable of accomplishing this impossible goal. 

Hearing and reading this article was powerful, but after some thought. My first reaction wanted so badly to be that I didn't have that disease, that I had conquered it already, that I was cured. I wanted to not admit to faults, I wanted to be perfect. I mean, I'm better than I used to be with this disease. Last year I struggled with it more than I ever have. Pearce gave a list of things to embrace that we can't control. Three stuck out to me the most:

You aren’t the only one who feels worthless sometimes.

You aren’t the only one who sometimes says things that really hurt other people.

You aren’t the only one who gets down and hates yourself and you can’t figure out why.
You aren’t the only one who hates your body.

Especially the first and last ones. More than anything I want to erase those words. I don't want to admit my failure, weakness, imperfection. I want to be done with those feelings, those struggles. I hate them because I hate having that vulnerability, and I hate them because they mean I'm prideful, and I hate them because I feel like I'm failing God. Because if I'm thinking about me and my worth in the eyes of the world, then I'm not focusing on God and my worth in the eyes of Him who loves me unconditionally.

But at the same time, I love, love, love, that He will love me unconditionally. No matter how imperfect I am, He loves me. And He wants our imperfections, those are the things that make us unique, beautiful. That truth is a hard one to grasp, but it is an essential one.

There is no such thing as perfect, except for God. The only perfection we should ever strive for is God-like perfection, but while reaching for that, we must also realize it is something we can never truly accomplish, because we aren't God. Earthly perfection, the perfect hair, looks, body, grades, family, car, house, life, they don't exist. Looking around, some people seem so perfect. They are happy and put-together, they have money and good grades, they have tons of friends and are beautiful, their lives seem perfect. Nope. Beneath every facade of perfection and put-togetherness is a real person with real insecurities and real problems, always.

We have to remember, and keep telling ourselves, and truly believe, that imperfection is beautiful. No apologies for who we are. Embrace our quirks, awkwardness, ugly scars. Embrace bad pasts, embarrassing moments, not-model bodies (they're airbrushed anyways, no one looks like that!). Those are the things that make us who we are. Those are the things that make us individuals, unique, loved. We were made exactly the way we are to be just who we are, and that is exactly who we should be. 

And watch this video, it's really good. Remind Me Who I Am - Jason Gray

Cold and Bold

Every time it snows I think of Narnia. Seriously. When it falls down from the sky, when it covers trees and grass, making slippery sidewalks and icicle-adorned buildings, I think of Narnia. And then it melts, with dripping icicles creating a steady drip-drip-drip beat and puddles of melted white in every crevice of the sidewalk and even if it is the beginning of winter, it fees like spring. And I think of Narnia, when the White Witch is finally defeated, Aslan victoriously returns, and Narnia finally gets Christmas and Spring again, freed from their prison of ice and cold. That's where my mind goes every time it snows.

As much as I truly despise being cold, I don't hate the snow. I mean if it's going to be that cold, it might as well snow and everything be beautiful and white. It snowed this week, and it was spectacular. Colorado has been having a very strange fall. The leaves only started changing colors three or so weeks ago, because it has been so warm. Usually when it snows, the trees have lost most of their leaves, but not with this snow.

The trees were still covered in colorful leaves, crimsons and bright oranges, bright yellows and a few mottled combinations of all three. And they were covered in snow. I've never seen such beautiful trees. Everything was covered in a layer of soft white, the vibrant colors of fall still bravely peeking through.

The snow was so heavy it made most of the leaves fall off their trees. But that was beautiful too. When the beginning-to-melt snow froze in the late night cold, it covered all the fallen leaves in a thin layer of frost. Early in the morning, you could still see it. Sidewalks covered in a layer of leaves, their blanket of ice sparkling and glittering in the sun.
And when it all started melting, that was beautiful, because, even though really it is the beginning of winter, it felt like spring, looked like spring, and smelled like spring, fresh and alive, waiting for the next snowfall to cover the world in white again.

Friday, October 21, 2011


Catching dreams
like paper planes.
falling, all about.
Blowing in the wind,
like grains of sand.
And suddenly
there's nothing holding you together

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Sounds and Strings

The music played. Bows sweeping across strings. Drums thumping out beats to slow or speed your heart. Lips to mouthpieces, sounds blow forth. Ears ring. Heads bob. Bodies sway. Arms sweep. Welcome, to the orchestra.
Classical music is not just about the sounds and instruments, it is about the people and the place. Sitting down in red velvet chairs, the orchestra clothed in black before you, quiet in the audience, it is still and peaceful. Yet, it is not. Sometimes the music fades away, soft and sweet. Then it roars back up, leaping and tossing, loud and vibrant.
The music tells a story. Songs have titles and purposes, often there are entire tales behind them. I love not knowing these stories, however. I love listening to the music and making my own, forming my own experience, feeling the music, eyes closed and foot gently tapping out the beat. And I love watching … watching the musicians, watching the people around me.
You could easily buy a CD of classical music, import it into your iTunes library, press “play” on the computer, close your eyes, and listen. But it wouldn't be the same. You wouldn't feel the music. You wouldn't see the music. When the story of music roared up at its climax, the battle raging or hero in peril or a suspenseful moment of decision, you wouldn't feel the drum beats or the trumpets blare.
You wouldn't see the arms violently sweeping in perfect sync, bows leaping across the violin, viola, cello, and bass strings. Sitting in the audience, you see the orchestra players. Sometimes their eyes are closed, their bodies gently swaying to the music, immersed in the joy of their craft. Other times the head bob and jerk back and forth, moving with the music that is not only a sound they make with their instruments, but a part of them.
Orchestra is not just about the beautiful music. It is about the sights, sounds, and stories. Close your eyes and feel the music. Let it speak to you with its gentle sounds and growing tempests and resounding crescendos and dramatic endings. Open your eyes and watch the musicians. See them dance with their instruments, see them become part of the music they create. It isn't just music, it isn't just sound.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


The only part of this verse I already knew was, "My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness."

And I can't ever remember the reference.

The surrounding verses are fantastic too, so my first memorization endeavor is this:

"To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, my power made perfect in weakness.' Therefore I will boast the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power my rest on me. That is why, for Christ's sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardship, in persecution, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

I really love this verse because it's so very hard to legit give thanks at difficulty. To be joyful and count yourself blessed and glad to be weak or broken or suffering. So this is one of those verses that I not only want to know by heart, but I need to have as a constant reminder that God is in control, and He is worth every bit of hardship that could ever come, because He is always good, and our brokenness and adversity only points to His strength and grace and goodness when we let Him be in control and give it all to Him.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Without You

I'm really happy today. It's been an absolutely fantastic day, and if you were to ask me why, there would be no really tangible or solid answer I could give you. Really, there are only two things I could say...

1. Jesus


2. Coffee

Here's what I've figured out. I used to think coffee (aka massive amounts of caffeine) made me always have a good day. But recently I've had coffee and not had good days. So here's the current conclusion:

Coffee amplifies whatever I'm feeling. Stressful day + caffeine = more stressed. Upset + coffee = more upset. Happy + coffee = fantastic day. Factor Jesus in there, and the day gets significantly better.

Yesterday I was challenged to pray about my weaknesses, ask God to reveal what I am failing at and sinning in, and then ask His help to fix it. I had a very difficult time with this task. In the past two weeks I've felt God has revealed many deep sins that I need to repent of and begin to focus on changing. Short summary: I'm selfish, self-centered, prideful, and gossip.

At Cru (Campus Crusade for Christ) last night we listened to someone talk about the story of the Lost Sons in Luke. I won't go into it too much, read Luke 15 if you want to know the story. But basically the two sons represent two ways we can sin against God, and the father in the story represents God (it's a parable). So one son essentially wishes the father was dead when he asks for his inheritance early (before the father has actually died). He takes the money and spends it on hookers, alcohol, partying, and maybe some drugs, who knows, use your imagination. The second son's sin is a bit more subtle. He's the son who stays at home and works hard, but the story reveals that he is as selfish and self-centered as the first son. His hard work is joyless. He doesn't do the father's will to please the father, because he loves the father, he does it so he can earn the inheritance he can't wait to receive when his father dies. The first son represents people who don't know God at all, aren't religious at all. The second son represents the people who are only religious, but have no relationship with God. They're just following the rules for their own glory and greedy ends.

I sat there trying so hard to identify with one of those sons. But I couldn't. I don't say that to sound like I've got it all together, like I have no problems or sins, not in the least. Those particular sins just didn't seem to pertain to where I am at this time. I felt/feel like God had already convicted me of my sins, weaknesses, and failures regarding selfishness and pride.

The story goes on. Both sons have really dishonored their father. They've both essentially slapped him in the face in their own ways. But each time the father forgives them, before they even apologize (and only the first son does). He goes out to meet them, right where they are in their sin. He doesn't wait for them to come to him, he goes to them. He takes them as they are.

I love that about God. He will always take us as we are. We don't have to dress or speak a certain way, our education or background is irrelevant to Him. He doesn't care who we are, what we've done, or where we've been. He loves us. And He just wants our love back in return.

God doesn't need us. He can do all things, so He doesn't need us to accomplish His goals or plans. The beautiful thing is that He wants us. And He wants us as we are. He'll take us in the midst of our pain, suffering, and brokenness and love us, and He wants us to love Him back. I just love hearing about that. It's such a beautiful reminder.

But here's the thing. God loves us that much, we should be telling everyone. That's what struck me last night. The guy speaking likened it to when he talks about his son. He loves his kid so much he can't help but smile every time he mentions his kid. That's how it should be when we talk about Jesus. We should just be so happy and joyful because of Him that we can't contain it. Yeah, there are reservations about forcing opinions or religion on people, but we are always sharing some sort of opinion. I do everytime I sit down to eat a meal and don't eat the meat. So we should stop worrying about what people will think and just be completely filled with joy at the mere thought of the beautiful Jesus who loves us no matter what, and loves us more than we can ever comprehend. It should be such an integral part of our lives that we can't separate Him from any of it.

That's what struck me last night. And I realized that's what I need to work on in my life. I mean I talk about Jesus a lot, but there are also many times when I choose not to mention Him. So I'm praying to be more joyful. To be joyful all the time. Because no matter what seemingly awful things happen in life, God is still King, and Jesus still loves me. Everything I do and say should in some way reflect Him. I don't want there to be any part of me that can be separated from Him, because He's the most important thing, He's the center of my life. He's all that matters.

I don't want there to ever be a me without Him.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Butler Did It - A Short Mystery Story by Me

The Harrisford family thought it would be a good idea to hire a mute butler. I suppose the general idea was that servants should be seen (though rarely) and not heard. A butler who could see and hear, but could not speak, could perform duties efficiently and silently. The Harrisford’s were not cruel individuals, they just weren’t particularly intelligent.

The poor butler. That old saying, “The butler did it!” heard ever so often in old and new mysteries alike, was often repeated around the Harrisford home. Whenever anything went missing, the butler did it. If a task had been done wrong, the butler did it. When anything and everything went awry, the butler had almost certainly done it.

Once the Harrisfords held a fancy dinner party. The theme was autumn, and all the guests arrived in their finest array of gold and crimson gowns, ties and jewels. The table, with silver plates, knives, and forks, tall wine glasses and fine silk napkins, had been set by the maid. The butler served the meal. He began at the head of the table and served to the right. He then dashed back to the kitchen, retrieved the spiced wine and began to meticulously fill each glass. As the butler reached the middle of the table an elderly guest, startled by what her neighbor had just said, drew her hands quickly to her mouth, knocking her wine glass from the table. The butler’s left hand shot out and caught the falling glass. He thanked his lucky stars he had played a great deal of baseball as a child and filled the glass with wine before setting it back on the table. When the last guest had been served everyone reached down for their forks and knives to dig into the carefully prepared feast...but one young lady was missing her fork, and an older gentleman in the corner did not have a knife! The Harrisfords blamed the butler and his pay was docked until the missing silver was replaced. He could say nothing in his own defense.

Another more unfortunate event was the incident with the cat. Poor Mr. Kitten Mittens had lived a long, happy life. We are thankful for this fact, as it would be an even more tragic tale if he were still a kitten. An orange tabby, Mr. Kitten Mittens was a favorite of the Harrisford family members both young and old. It was not the butler’s job to attend to the Harrisford pets. He had other duties to attend. All the same, when someone forgot, or lazily shirked their duties to feed the cat, the butler was blamed. A cat can only live for so long on the cockroaches they find around the house. As the Harrisford home was spotlessly cleaned every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, and tidied the other days of the week, few cockroaches were to be found. Mr. Kitten Mittens passed away one warm spring day. As I said, he had thankfully lived a long and joyful life, except for his last few weeks of starvation at the hand of one forgetful or lazy servant. Once again the Harrisfords held the butler accountable for the tragedy, as no one else would step forward and admit their fault and the butler couldn’t say anything to prove his innocence in the matter.

Now, if you think a dead cat is a tragedy, the following event shall be a catastrophe. One rather chilly, but sunny winter day Sir Herbert Harrisford came to stay. He was an enormously rich, pompous gentleman who enjoyed a bit too much wine in the evenings and was generally disliked by both the family and the servants. As most men of his sort, he was unaware of this dislike, as he was very fond of himself. You may very well have guessed by now...Sir Herbert was murdered.

He was found very dead the next morning. He was lying in his bed, the sheets pulled up to his neck so he appeared to be asleep. The maid found him when she attempted to awaken him for the morning meal. He had been rather viciously stabbed. The left side of Sir Herbert’s head was battered. It appeared as though he had been clumsily beaten with the murderer’s weaker or less experienced hand and then immediately stabbed with the offender’s other hand. The three wounds had been made by some sort of sharp, pointy, and narrow blade and were slanted from the mid-chest towards Sir Herbert’s flabby right chest.

The butler was, of course, the first and only suspect. The family believed him responsible for other more petty crimes about the home so he seemed the most logical choice. Yet, as a murdered man is far more serious than missing silver or a starved cat, the Harrisfords wisely chose to consult a professional.

Detective Sturum was an expert. A third generation detective, he was very experienced. He was sipping green tea from an old jam jar and patting himself on the back for the case he had just solved when the phone rang. Mr. Harrisford had called, asking the detective to come to the mansion.

“Yes, he is definitely dead...very dead.” said Sturum.

“We had ascertained that ourselves,” replied Mr. Harrisford, “the blood on the sheets and lack of heart beat were rather self-explanatory.”

“Yes, of course. Who has been in the house?”

“Only our family and the servants, and Herbert of course. He arrived in time for dinner last night. We have ordered the servants to their rooms and locked the doors. We suspect the butler. Look what we found in his room!” Mr. Harrisford displayed a pair of scissors. They were ordinary scissors, except for a thread of engraved roses and vines along the blades, and these same long sharp blades were covered in dried blood.
“Yes, I see...” Sturum slowly remarked, and he sank deep into thought.

Five minutes later Mr. Harrisford grew impatient. “What is there to think about?” he exclaimed, “This seems uncharacteristically simplistic to me!”
“Yes, it would appear that way. Unfortunately, the first and most obvious suspect rarely seems to be guilty.”

Detective Sturum confiscated the murder weapon, for safety reasons. Ordering the servants to be brought downstairs, he gathered both the servants and the family into the main room.

“Yes, everyone must be considered a suspect in this matter,” he began. “Could the butler please bring us some biscuits...and perhaps your maid could bring some tea?”
Mr. Harrisford snapped his fingers and the two servants exited the room. Detective Sturum ordered everyone, family and servants alike, to find a seat in the large living room. Moving a small wooden table to the center of the room he placed the murder weapon upon the table. The gory scissors could be easily viewed by everyone in the room.

The butler returned to the room first, carrying a silver platter of biscuits. He walked around the room in his typical slow, careful manner, handing each person a napkin and biscuit. He took his seat as the maid entered the room. She carried a slightly larger silver tray stacked with tea cups and a large pot of steaming raspberry tea, Mrs. Harrisford’s favorite. She moved about the room in a more hurried manner, she was not the meticulous type. To each person she handed a cup, filling it with steaming tea and a teaspoon of sugar. When she came to Detective Sturum he asked for a second spoonful of sugar. She acquiesced to his request.
“Yes, that’s a beautiful ring,” he remarked, pointing to the maid’s left ring finger. “Did you recently become engaged?”
“Oh no, sir! It’s just a little trinket I found in a shop. This is the only finger that fits it.”
Detective Sturum thanked the maid and butler for serving. Standing in the middle of the room, he picked up the scissors and examined them one last time.

“Yes, I mean no, the butler did not do it,” he calmly declared, “but she did.”
The detective strolled to the middle of the room, stood behind the maid and gently pushed her forward. The Harrisford family gasped.

Upon searching the maid’s room Detective Sturum found some of the missing silver along with various other odds and ends that had disappeared. The maid had been performing petty crimes and generally slacking off, aware that the unfortunate mute butler would be blamed. After murdering Sir Herbert, for unknown personal reasons, she stowed the scissors in the butler’s room as he slept.

How did Detective Sturum realize the appearingly innocent maid was responsible? Simple, she was left-handed. He discovered this simple fact by observing the ring on her left hand, the hand with which she poured the tea and served the sugar. The detective’s first clue was the scissors themselves. Generally men do not own dainty scissors laced with roses. Of course, the butler could have borrowed the scissors, which leads us to the second clue. These scissors were made specifically for a left-handed cutter. The butler was right-handed. The maid was the only lefty in the Harrisford home, and the stab wounds, beginning at Sir Herbert’s mid-chest and slanting outwards towards his right side, were definitely made by a left-hand. Thus, the case was solved.

So, in the end, the butler didn’t do it...but the maid did.