“You are imperfect, permanently and inevitably flawed. And you are beautiful.”
~ Amy Bloom
I am not perfect. I not only know that, I am painfully aware of it. It is something with which I have struggled throughout my life. You see, I am a perfectionist. I have always thought that if something needs to be accomplished, it needs to be accomplished by deadline and with perfection. Failure on either part — with one being very objective and the other being largely subjective — points to imperfection.
The objective in the case above is very easy. Something is either early, on time, or late. You cannot argue with a clock. The perfectionist in me sees only early and late. If something is done “on time”, I ask myself, “Why couldn’t it have been accomplished early? Why couldn’t I beat the deadline?” The subjective, of course, is very murky: “accomplished to perfection.” I could turn something in that is flawless and within five minutes wonder why I did not do something else, include something else, or embellish in some way, shape, or form.
My formators in seminary caught on to this early. They helped me in my struggle. My first spiritual director basically told me to strap in because the ride was going to be tough and long. Shaking perfectionism is no easy job. In many ways, it is impossible. The best one can do is to manage its effects.
The effects, by the way, are not good because most perfectionists not only apply their standards to themselves but to others as well. It is hard for another person to understand why they might be criticized for something they knew to be a job well done. The perfectionist does not always see jobs well done. Instead, they see what could have been done instead or in addition.
That is a part of human nature. It is a part of our inherent imperfection, our inevitable flaw. And it is difficult to see ourselves as beautiful because all we see is our inner flaw. Yet, each day, each moment, of our lives, God is speaking to us: “You are beautiful.”
Assuredly, we are. We are because we were created in His image and likeness. God is pure beauty. But, while God is speaking to us, “You are beautiful”, the devil is perched on our shoulder whispering into our other ear, “You are ugly, tainted, and flawed. You could never measure up to God. Why don’t you just give up?”
The truth is, we don’t have to “measure up” to God. All we have to do is accept ourselves for who and what we are because that is precisely the way God made us. We are imperfect. We are permanently and inevitably flawed. And that’s okay. Because God loves us completely and unconditionally.
FAITH ACTION: If you have viewed others in a negative light based upon their flaws, give them the chance for another look today and do all that you can to see them as God sees them.