Originally this post was going to be titled “practicing imperfection.” The problem is that practice implies that it’s something you have to intentionally do that you wouldn’t otherwise be doing. The laborious hours of piano practice from 4th grade through 12th grade come to mind (short fingernails, scales, metronome ticking). And the problem about “practicing imperfection” is that is would lead
you me to believe that I am only imperfect when I am being purposeful about it. The truth is, imperfection shows up aplenty in my less-than-perfect, far-from-ideal day-to-day life under the sun.
I just usually prefer to hide from it or run from it or pretend it isn’t there. Denial can be a very happy place to live. Until you awaken to reality. Like Dorothy’s discovery of the wizard of Oz, it feels shattering to lose all that we were hoping for in the blink of an eye. So, in the interest of living in light of reality, I want to consciously embrace imperfection.
What this might mean is that I’m quicker to say I’m sorry when I’ve realized I hurt you (or when you tell me), or that I don’t try to scramble around like a crazy person to clean up the mess of a home that’s lived in because you’re coming to dinner and you don’t have kids yet, or that i don’t always do my hair and makeup to drop off my kids at preschool, or that when the small imperfections of life occur in my home/school/church/neighborhood – instead of judging and distancing, I lean in and accept. For this is what I hope from you when you notice my imperfections. Chances are, you will more often than I can. Sometimes I need to hear about them; other times I’d prefer that you cover it over with love and grace. I will try to do the same.
Have I done this? Do I do this? Those of you who know me in real life know that, well, sometimes I do. And sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I speak before I should. Sometimes I stay silent when I should speak up. I’m learning. And so are you.
Let’s breathe grace for one another. Let’s embrace imperfection.
Two stories to illustrate, from the past 24 hours:
(1) A couple was over at our house last night for premarital counseling with my husband and I. They had just gotten settled into our couch (barely) when I heard cries erupt from our 3-year-old twin daughters’ room upstairs. I rolled my eyes and said, “Yeah – they haven’t really settled down very well tonight.” But the scene that greeted me when I opened the door was a far cry from this. Or, rather, the stench and the sight of one girl vomiting in the middle of the room and her sister crying out from the fear and shock of it all. Oh my. I don’t do vomit. At all. So I’m saying, “Seth, I can’t do this!” as I run down the stairs. The sweet couple quickly ushered themselves out the door, and I can only imagine that this session could be entitled, “reasons to wait a few more years before having kids.” Oh, yeah. #Embracing imperfection.
(2) This morning I had managed to wrangle the squirmy (but feeling much better) girls through an entire and very full wholesale store shopping trip. You know, the one where you’ve gotta get the deodorant and the tomatoes and the milk and the eggs and the pens and the Oxy-Clean – plus groceries for the week. And I was pretty worn out by the time we got to our car and I unloaded all of our assortment of items. I was rushing a bit because I wanted to get back to meet my friend for lunch. And then I realized that I had forgotten to get the main ingredient for our lunch together: the rotisserie chicken. The Heather-who-tries-to-hide-imperfection would have hightailed it back through the store TO THE VERY BACK where they keep the chicken, probably screaming and dragging my kids behind me, and I would have felt very frantic all around (more than I already did). Instead, I called my friend and asked her if she could bring chicken. Wouldn’t you know – she had one in her fridge already! What kindness in this embracing imperfection journey … what about you? I’d love to hear your stories.
What started me on this journey? I am deeply indebted to Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl and Brene Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection. Books I plan to read and reread for the rest of my life … and hopefully write a chapter or two of my own to add to their conversations.