Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Perfectly Imperfect

As a kid, I remember playing the game "Perfection." For those who've never played it, the object of the game was to get all of the shaped pieces into their correct spots before the time ran out and springs caused the pieces to fly out of the board. The winner is the one who can put all of the shapes in in the shortest amount of time. It could either be a lot of fun or a lot of frustration. I think our lives can become this way when we aer so focused on personal perfection.

In Japanese art there is a philosophy that exists called "wabi-sabi." This essentially means that the artist embraces the flawed and imperfect.

Too often in our culture we want things to appear unblemished and without cracks or chips or imperfections. If something is broken, we toss it out and replace it with something new. In kintsugi pottery they take the broken pieces and mend them back together. They do not hide the brokenness but hilight it with a golden laquer.

They find beauty and profundity in the brokenness. 

Shouldn't our faith be the same way?

Too often we want to appear as though we have it all together. We try to quote all the right Bible verses and say all the right things and pray the right way. We want our families to appear perfect. We want Pinterest-perfect homes. But in our pursuit of the perfect, we lose the sublime wonder and rapturous joy of the imperfection. I know it can often be unsettling to allow oneself to be vulnerable and admit our flaws and failures to another, but I have found that whenever I have, there has been a beauty to the conversation and the relationship that goes deeper than if I had never allowed myself to say, "You know what, I really struggle with that . . . "

And the fact of the matter is that we can never, ever be perfect while on this earth. Christ doesn't expect us to be. And that's freeing if we truly embrace our frays and our cracks and the places in our lives that we haven't fit the right pieces into the right slots. Jesus finds beauty in the broken, creates art from the discarded, and sees the transcendent in the trash that is ourselves. He picks us up from our shattered selves and says, "I can mend this. I can make something glorious from this." Unlike the world, he does not throw us away. He finds value and worth and exquisiteness in us, even when we feel at our most imperfect. 

We live in a world that is completely the opposite. It tells us that we have to be "perfect": thin, sexy, intelligent, wealthy, and young. Getting older, have a face lift. People starve themselves to be thin in a world where there are literally people starving. Buy more. Get more. Be more. Consume until we are consumed with our own poor self-image that doesn't match up to the catalogs or the commercials or social media. 

But we have to stop listening to the lies of the world and simply listen to Jesus who says, ever so gently, "You are enough." 

All of us and all that we have are transient. All of our money, training, skills, accolades, awards, and accumulation will be gone one day. None of it will matter, but we do. We have eternal significance. We have value, not because of who we are, but whose we are. He has taken all of the ugliness and brokenness and, in his grace, made something of refinement, something that is real art. 

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