catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 9 :: 2012.04.27 — 2012.05.10


The imperfect life

When I was young my bedroom faced toward the street.  There was a window ledge where I piled pillows and sat in the dark.  From this spot I could see the sky with stars, the branches of the maple tree in our front yard and the road below.  Life seemed expansive, the world still and beautiful in my quiet town, and God near to my every breath.  I talked to God through the open window about my dreams and about how much I needed him.

However, in my late twenties, holding babies and playing board games and forming Play-Doh, I looked out the windows of my home and felt very much alone. God felt quite far from my heart.  My twenties were a gradual descent into disillusionment.  At the time, I couldn’t really even grasp what was happening.  As a pastor’s wife I felt expectations crushing my spirit.  I heard and observed the gossip that surrounded my family.  In no way would I be able to please everyone but I felt that I must try. Slowly, my good life began to fade away.

God miraculously led me back.  The first thing I had to do was ask for help — such a simple act, yet so very difficult.  As I admitted my own weaknesses and failings, I received the help I needed and dark places turned to light.  Even color seemed more vivid.  God had been there all along, so very near, but I had been distracted by trying to be everything to everyone.

As the months went by, my soul longed to give more.  For a while, I dreamed of a house continually revealing new rooms. I began to write again about issues of social justice. Writing has always been my greatest joy, but I had let it go in my striving to be perfect.  Slowly my voice began to pound against the windows I had closed on it.  Fear surrounded me every time I shared a piece of myself, but I began to receive overwhelming encouragement in response to the words that revealed the real me and the reality of not being perfect.

The veneer of perfection is not the good life.  People are longing for more.  I think we long for permission to be real.  In a world where we can un-tag and Photoshop, and are always striding forward with quick steps, revealing our imperfect selves is not easy.  

Jesus came to love the broken and the hurting.  He loves those who come to him as they are.   When we quit fighting the demons of perfection, our lives open expansively.  We find the freedom to love fully, to love like Christ loved, without limitations and outside of the box that perfection creates.  How can we truly live a good life if it is stifled by aspirations of perfection?

The good life returned to me only when I admitted my own need for grace.  I still stare out windows, but they are no longer closed.  They are wide open, full of unhindered, child-like wonder at what could be. 

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