The Beauty of Imperfection

“Why are you showing that one?” asked my granddaughter.

She was referring to a video segment I used in a little movie the grandkids made to honor “Papa” on his 60th birthday.  They had come up with the whole idea for this little skit.  As they were singing “You Are My Sunshine,” Emery started to cry, Gracie puked and Emma responded with an “eewwwww.”    I chose that clip because it showed the real “them” as they were delivering this heartfelt song to their Papa.  Emma thought that perhaps I should have used the one that didn’t have those “mistakes.”

(The clip is actually is pretty adorable, as you can see here)

I thought about this (desire to hide our imperfections) in light of one of my favorite scriptures:

2 Cor. 12:9-10
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. [10] That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

This scripture took me a long time to understand.  I hated “messing up.”   Even in kindergarten, I ran away from school one day and hid in my garage when I realized I had forgotten my lunch money.  You see, I was supposed to bring the week’s lunch money to school on Monday.  When I realized I had forgotten to bring it to school I must have thought the world would come to an end!  I reasoned it would be much better to just run and hide than own up to my mistake.  As a teenager, before I became a Christian I thought I needed to practice “doing right” long enough in order to “get good enough” to become a Christian.  I finally came to understand that the whole point of Jesus’ death was that I could never be good enough – and that fact was very freeing to me.  It allowed me to become very grateful for that sacrifice made for me.

However, this old way of thinking would at times become my “default” mindset.  This hindered me in learning how to be vulnerable and in sharing the fears and shortcomings in my life.  Deep down, I often felt it was “not ok” to mess up.

How refreshing it was to realize again and again (as my friend Gordon Ferguson often says, “the best of us is a mess.”) I have since learned the joy of vulnerability, and as the above scripture states – God’s “power is made perfect in weakness.”

The question from my granddaughter reminded me of the joy of imperfection.  My grandchildren were giving their best effort to honor and show love to their Papa.  The puking, crying and “eeewww” were actually part of the preciousness of this song. I love the imperfection, because I know the effort is wholehearted and filled with love.

If I could live perfectly there would have been no need for Jesus to come.  Fact is…my life will always have episodes of mess-ups like (spiritual) puking, crying and “eeewwwws” – or worse.  However, as long as I am striving to love, honor and obey my Father, I believe he will delight in the imperfections even more than I delighted in the imperfections of this little 3 minute video.

Elephant in the Living Room

The other day I was visiting a friend in Burlington, Vermont, when I noticed a small dragon in her living room.   I inquired as to the friendliness of this creature in the room and whether or not it was supposed to be “out”.   I was told it was actually sunning itself, so yes – it was supposed to be there. I guess I was relieved – and tried to find solace in the pure enjoyment this dragon displayed while basking in the sunlight.

However, often critters can make there way into our living rooms and wreak havoc – while we ignore them, tiptoe around them or pretend they are not there.    I am speaking of the proverbial “elephant in the living room”.  (Here is a concise definition I took from Wikipedia. “Elephant in the room” is an English metaphorical idiom for an obvious truth that is being ignored or goes unaddressed. The idiomatic expression also applies to an obvious problem or risk no one wants to discuss.[1] It is based on the idea that an elephant in a room would be impossible to overlook; thus, people in the room who pretend the elephant is not there have chosen to avoid dealing with the looming big issue.)

Likely, we have had elephants tiptoe into our living rooms at one time or another.  There may even be one currently residing there.

While I think elephants are amazing creatures – I don’t want one in my living room.  Yet, at times I have allowed them to be there out of fear of speaking honestly.  Several scriptures have helped me tremendously that I refer to as my “elephant busters” – (emphasis added)   They are:  Ephes. 4:15-16
Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. [16] From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

John 8:31-32
To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. [32] Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Mark 12:14
They came to him and said, “Teacher, we know you are a man of integrity. You aren’t swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are; but you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.

No matter how difficult, I pray to always be honest and to not let creatures take residence in my living room, or any rooms of my heart.

If they move in and we ignore them, they will destroy our living rooms and leave a room full of elephant d.u.n.g.  In order to avoid the refuse there are several keys to be aware of.  They are: Discernment, Understanding, “Niceness” and Graciousness.  While speaking honestly, it is important to discern the best ways – including timing to approach a difficult situation.  It is also important to understand that there may be pieces missing in our understanding.  A tone of gentleness and kindness (or niceness) is also something we are instructed by God to practice.  It is also of utmost important to remember that God is a God of grace and mercy.   While he is just, he is also merciful – a God of grace and truth.  I desperately need his wisdom, power and guidance as I go through life.  May we all find the integrity, unity, freedom and love that truth produces.