Today was an amazing day! I had such a great time I forgot to write a post. Totally cheating, I am copying and pasting an essay I wrote for my church over the summer, as a part of a service called “what truths do you feel are worthy of being fulfilled?” I hope you like it.
When Becca asked me to do this, I immediately said yes… In my head anyway. It actually took a little longer to really tell her. However, as soon as I finally agreed the dread set in. What on earth would I talk about, and how badly could I manage to mess it up? There are many truths I would consider worthy of fulfilling, so many how could I possibly keep it down to 5 minutes.
It was suggested that I speak about embracing imperfections. This feels less like a truth I hold up and more like the universe’s lesson plan for the last 29 years of my life… But the truth is that you could say embracing imperfections has been my life’s work.
I was, believe it or not, a quiet and reserved child. I did everything I could to deflect attention from myself. I wanted nothing more than to create, laugh loudly, and spread joy. I was held back by a constant fear of imperfection. I turned inward, I wrote, I created… But those too were locked away. My fear of being less than perfect had prevented me from living.
There are countless traditions where imperfect art is the goal. From Wabi Sabi to Amish quilts, creating pieces with intentional mistakes makes a larger statement. But it is the more mundane human aspects of imperfection that have touched me more. American writer Catherine Drinker Bowen once said “Writers seldom choose as friends those self-contained characters who are never in trouble, never unhappy or ill, never make mistakes and always count their change when it is handed to them.” I found this true of myself, seeking out those who live life fully and authentically. The types of women who called stretch marks “tiger stripes” and embarrassing moments “good stories.” I realized that by protecting myself, I was robbing them of this same experience, this same intimacy. I was pretending to be something less than what I was, and we were all the worse for it.
Admitting imperfections has taught me humility, humor… Maybe some day it will teach me grace. It allows a person to be vulnerable, to discover that those cracks and blemishes are really doors and windows to allow others in. They are glue to create connection. There is something really freeing about saying “so, that just happened. Now what?” In allowing others to laugh with you. In letting your embarrassment be a lesson.
I see myself as a teacher. When my own girls shred their drawings because they wrote the letter “N” backwards I know the way I live is important. When I hear that a woman want to wait to lose that last 10 pounds to buy a cute new outfit. When friends decide they can wait and start their passion only when the wind is right and all other obligations tended to completely. I find I am often a better teacher than I am a student. I embrace this imperfection in myself, for how many can teach a master class when still taking remedial lessons?
This isn’t a goal with a clear benchmark, and that is kind of the point. The truth to uphold is that we are constantly evolving, delightfully imperfect beings who can use these experiences to connect and grow. We all want to come across as having it all together, being on top of everything, good at things at the first try… but as Albus Dumbledore said in the “Harry Potter” novels… “It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.