I don’t know about you, but if there were a song to define my life, it would be Tubthumping. I’m showing my age here, since that came out while I was in college. And yet … it is true. I get knocked down, but I get up again. Is there any other way to live? (Sure, some days I get knocked down and take a nap, but … I digress.)
It may come as a shock (not really), but I also suffer from a bit of perfectionism. If I can’t do it perfectly (and the best), then it isn’t worth doing. This comes from years of hearing that message as a child – your best was THE best. Good wasn’t always good enough. I knew I was loved, don’t get me wrong, but I also could tell when less-than-perfect performance elicited disappointment. Talk about pressure!
As we have entered the magical journey of parenthood with our own children, quieting the perfectionist in me has been a challenge. Let’s just say that in practice I am not quite as perfect a mother as I always thought I would be when I was single. Can anyone relate?
Over time, I am learning to appreciate the lessons that present themselves out of failure. I don’t enjoy it. It still takes me a moment to get past the wallowing and into the revelation, but I am learning that imperfection is actually a gift. Here are three.
The Gift of Humility:
My imperfection leads me to greater humility. I’m not talking about the “I’m not worthy” false kind of humility here. Facing utter failure is an awakening to understand more fully that we must rely on the power of the Holy Spirit to help us face the duties and tasks in our lives. It is through the power of God that I am able to get back up and try again – or come to realize I should walk away. While it may take some time to get there, failure and facing imperfection teaches me to better discern God’s anointing on my life and seek to follow it.
The Gift of Freedom:
Embracing my imperfection (without using it as an excuse for my vices) sets others free. If there is one gift I can give my children, it is the freedom to explore their gifts without fear. I can already see the performance anxiety sprouting in my oldest, and I want to quash that as best as we can. My failures provide fertile ground for that lesson. If we can set ourselves free of the need to always put our best foot forward and settle for just putting a foot forward, I am learning that we get much farther.
The Gift of Grace:
Did anyone happen to see the clip of Chris Pratt at the MTV Movie & TV Awards that has gone viral? In it, he shares his nine rules of life. There are many golden moments, and a few silly ones as can be expected, but the one that sticks with me is number nine. Loosely paraphrased: don’t believe you are perfect – you are not. He shares with a captive audience that we were actually created to be imperfect so that grace could enter in. Now, I’m not going to get into a theological debate about that statement, but the sentiment is so very true. The gift of our imperfection is that we allow grace to bridge the gap.
There is one last gift that our imperfection allows. When we are transparent in our weakness, it allows another to serve. Our imperfection allows another to flourish in the gift they’ve been given to share. When we lock ourselves away in a fortress of perfection, we deprive others the opportunity to thrive by serving (and we make ourselves miserable of course). How does the saying go? We rise by lifting others? If we don’t admit a need to be lifted, then we can never rise.
How do you embrace and work within your imperfect gifts? How do you encourage that in others (and your children)?
Copyright 2018 Rahki McCormick