I’ll confess, the prospect of imperfection after years of the need to be perfect is not in the least enticing. It’s hard pretending that I want to be anything less than perfect most all of the time. As I said, I learned at a young age that perfection was required for love, safety, and survival. However, perfection isn’t real; I don’t want to be real, I want to survive; please don’t let my humanity show. I think this reflects too much of my prayer life.
Yet, imperfection is real. Who of us — myself especially it seems — is anything more than just that: imperfect? It’s so easy to edit, apply the right filters, and ignore the ugly so that everyone thinks I am perfect. Social media makes this near-effortless. Those gorgeous vacation photos, the staged pictures with friends. What about the morning I forgot my badge for the office and had to wait around until I was allowed into the building? That really happened to me not too long ago. What about the time I raised my voice at my wife? Nowhere to be found on social media. What about the time I spent at work worrying that I couldn’t learn a new coding framework, so I put off the work? Uh, yeah. I’d be willing to say that I don’t want at least 80% of my life on social media. And I’d say that 80% isn’t far from the moments I consider less than perfect.
“Christ died for men precisely because men are not worth dying for; to make them worth it.” — C.S. Lewis
Imperfection is beautiful. I came across the above C.S. Lewis quote earlier today and I think it encapsulates this point. My imperfection is in my DNA. Intrinsically, I know this. But I struggle against this reality. God doesn’t. From before time, God knew and loved me not in spite of my imperfection. He did not enter into time and space, He did not become human to eradicate my imperfection or your imperfection. No, He came so that our imperfection didn’t separate His beloved children from Himself. Jesus came to show us that our imperfection wasn’t to be hidden, but rather that God cherished the individuality of each of us so much that He was literally willing to stop at nothing to spend all eternity loving us along with our imperfection.
Imperfection is human. “No one is righteous,” said Paul quoting Psalms — in more places than one! Look at Psalm 14. Then again at Psalm 53. Put another way, there is no one who attains perfection. I think this includes me. And the rest of humanity. Who do you know is perfect? I can’t think of anyone. Yet, I compare myself against the specter of perfection. Where is it? If I’m honest, the connections I’ve typically made have been about normalizing imperfection that I’ve shared with another. It is my struggles — the very imperfection that makes me more real than my shallow Instagram account — and when I have been able to share them that have established and grown the relationships I value most today. But I still fight against this perceived weakness; I long for perfection.
Imperfection is broken. Perhaps once we get to heaven we will be given perfection. Maybe. I believe that the idea of imperfection as broken both to be truth and the greatest lie I have ever dared believe. I think there is a lot of imperfection that doesn’t have to be in this world. I think there is a lot of ugliness that most all could agree is merely unnecessary. However, it is madness to chase perfection today. Or tomorrow. Who am I trying to impress? What am I trying to achieve? Is accepting God’s love, strength, grace, mercy, is that not enough? Forever? What more is there? What more do I want, do I strive after? Who or what am I trying to be better than?