Can your imperfection be a blessing?
by Christie Browning
Being a disciple of Jesus gives me the label “Christian.” I love that my faith affords me a connection with other believers and a relationship with a Heavenly Father that knows me personally. That being said, sometimes there’s things about my faith journey that is hard. Sometimes we as believers can hold each other (and ourselves) to unrealistic expectations. We sit in sanctuaries each Sunday looking at the “perfect” family in front of us who are always on time, beautifully dressed and oozing spirituality. We look at our pew full of rowdy kids with bed heads and the spouse that really ticked us off that morning and think, “Man, we are not cutting the mustard here.” Or maybe the “it” family suffers a spiritual scandal that electrifies the congregation. Do we allow other believers to be imperfect? We hold ourselves, and others, to such high standards that no human can possibly achieve, and when we miss them (or when others miss them), the negativity sets in and the judgement begins.
I want to twist your thinking for a second. What if maybe, just maybe, our imperfections are spiritual? Could it be that there is a divine blessing in our shortcomings, our humanness, our weaknesses? Could our failures be the very thing that brings us closer to Christ and take us to a higher spiritual level?
When sin entered the picture back in the Garden of Eden, God wasn’t caught off guard. He knew what was going on and He had a plan… a plan for our mistakes, our foibles, our imperfections that would bring us closer to Him. He knew we would stumble and fall and miss the mark. And here in lies the beautiful blessing… our mistakes bring us to the Messiah. It allows us to need, accept and apply the Atonement that was given to us by way of the Cross.
Sheri Dew sums this idea up in her book, Worth the Wrestle, when she says, "We can either live our lives alone, relying largely upon our own strengths, or we can live them with the help of heaven. How much help we receive from above is largely up to us. None of us are talented enough, smart enough, wise enough, or resilient enough to do the work of building the kingdom—and to become the men and women we have the potential of becoming—without the help of heaven."
Think about this for a moment. Without mistakes we wouldn’t know forgiveness. Without failure we wouldn’t know success. Without weaknesses we wouldn’t recognize our strengths. For every negative there is a positive and that was just the point Heavenly Father had in mind when He created us. This surely isn’t a license to be careless with our actions or to act out in contrast to beliefs or what we know is right. However, this is our permission slip to take a breath. To let others be real and for us to be real messed up if that’s where we are at. We don’t have to shoulder the burden of perfection and of trying to '‘measure up.” We are free to be ourselves, to have real questions, real struggles, and real dimension that is shaded and shaped by the dents and dings brought on by living an imperfect life in an imperfect world.
Several years ago, I confided in a group of church leaders during a private counsel that I was facing some very big struggles in my life. Instead of accepting and loving me through the struggle with support and wise counsel, the leadership removed me from the areas I was serving the church and left me feeling ashamed and isolated. This was not a sin I had committed, I was simply not OK and was dealing with some issues and complications in my life. I can tell you that the decision to remove me made me feel as if I were being punished and I wasn’t going to fit in until I was perfect. With that type of leadership, where do we allow for openness and communication? If we are struggling, isn’t the church a place where we can seek wise counsel and find a safe place to be open and transparent about what we are going through? I can tell you God applaud a humble heart that comes seeking answers. And although I believe those leaders were wrong, they are human too and capable of imperfection. Therefore, I forgave them and moved on. But it did make for a very real and vivid point to this whole idea of needing to be perfect to be a believer.
When we allow ourselves to drop the facade of perfectionism, we can give gratitude to the lessons, growth and maturity that comes from our mistakes and struggles, recognizing that it is because of Heavenly Father’s forgiveness and grace that we can indeed change and overcome.
One last thought - if we never accepted that we are fallible, how could we ever embrace God’s grace. More over, how could we ever then introduce that grace or God’s forgiveness to others? I venture to say that my mistakes and failures act as a magnifier spotlighting God’s work in my life and making visible the beauty of His never-ending compassion for me, His child. And it’s because of my helpless humanness that I can appreciate, and then witness, the power of Jesus giving his life for me.
So I challenge you to embrace your imperfections and allow them to introduce you to the different attributes of our Heavenly Father. Then, look to the scriptures for ways you can learn and grow, all the while learning to have love and grace for yourself and the pace you are running your race. And while you’re at it…. extend the same love and grace to others who are running in their own lane, even if their form and technique is different than yours. This is grace. This is freedom. This is allowing our unique selves to shine bright with God’s compassion and understanding.