Embracing Imperfection and “Smallness”
Something miraculous is happening. Though it might not seem earth-shattering to you, I assure you: this is pretty big for me.
I am embracing my own imperfection.
To tell you the truth, it is refreshingly surprising: as I am getting older and growing in my relationship with God, learning more about myself and the ways in which God has wired me and loves me… I am becoming much more comfortable with myself – and much more at ease with the fact that I’m not perfect or even especially important or incredible.
Granted, the next time I am PMSing I might have another one of my “moments.” But I would say, on the whole, I’m making progress: I see my imperfection. I see my mess-ups and my flaws and my failures. Yet… I’m not SO distracted by them recently. I feel like I am both getting to know myself and becoming less distracted by myself all at once. As I continue to try to get to know this woman God created 37 years ago, rather than getting more obsessed with myself, I find I am simply getting more comfortable in my own skin and more eager to look beyond myself out into an aching, broken world. And I’m trying to figure out what I can do to possibly bring joy or hope to it.
Even if the way in which I am bringing joy falls short or seems mundane or inconsequential— it is still worth it.
Let’s take today, for example: today something arrived in the mail that I have been working on for over a year and a half. It is a book celebrating the life of my maternal grandma and grandpa. It’s a collection of photos from their lives, stories that they have told on themselves, stories and memories other loved ones have shared with me, old letters written to one another, letters and postcards to and from their children, and even photos and memories from some of their great-grandchildren. I have been working on this project on and off since just before my grandma passed away in August 2014. And although I would have loved this special “Legacy Book” to be without error, I must admit it didn’t surprise me when it arrived and, although I have spent a few hundred hours on this project, countlessly combing through it purging its errors, I have already found at least two typographical errors and a few random formatting errors in this 38-page collection.
But you know what? I’m okay with that.
I’m pretty sure I’ll even be okay if and when I find more errors. Because I can honestly say that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I did my very best with the time and resources I had available.
Although it may seem like no big deal, this book is my attempt to honor my amazing grandparents and to hopefully bless and bring joy and some sense of healing to myself, my extended family members, and my grandparents’ lifelong friends who miss them. This book is intended to be a gift. A humble offering of joy and celebration to a handful of folks who loved and were impacted by two “normal” people who touched my life in immeasurable ways. It is neither perfect nor grand— unfortunately, despite my best efforts, pretty much nothing I ever do is. Yet I pray that all those who flip through these pages will hear God’s voice and feel Him wrap His arms of comfort around them as they look through it and remember what a beautiful legacy of laughter, love, and friendship my grandparents left.
So no: it’s not perfect. But you know what? I’m still so glad I’ve finished it and finally gotten it out there. As flawed as it may be, I’m so glad I am able to share all these gems with other folks who love them.
As Jennie Allen says in her book Restless,
“I think in twenty years, we will regret more of the things we didn’t do than things we did imperfectly.”
I believe this to be true. As a person who often struggles with perfectionism and feeling like so much of what I do is small and forgettable, this truth brings me comfort. And it helps me feel just a bit freer to be my flawed, small self in the midst of a world that needs all the joy and hope and small, good moments it can find.
Cheers, friend. May you, too, be free to be your small, imperfect, yet invaluable self. Do your thing. Even if it seems small. Even if you know going into it that it will likely turn out a bit messed up and messy. The rest of the world needs you to be you. And to offer the smile that only you can offer, the meal that only you can make, the painting that only you can paint, the event that only you can organize, the book that only you can write, the ouchie that only you can kiss and make all better. It needs you to offer the encouragement that only you can bring, the justice that only you can spearhead, the garden that only you can tend.
We all have dreams in our hearts and things we long to do. Please let’s not any of us hold ourselves back for fear of being imperfect or for fear of it “not mattering.” It does matter. Please go for it.
* * *
What about you?
In what ways do you find yourself holding back from certain things because they don’t seem “important”? What do you hear God saying to you about those things you long to do but hold yourself back because you are afraid you’ll either blatantly fail or (perhaps worse?) do it imperfectly?
Please feel free to share your comments or your own journey in the comment section below.