I’ve been thinking a lot about imperfections. Imperfect people. Imperfect love. Imperfect people loving imperfectly. And how, impossibly, sometimes that just seems to be enough in this crazy world.
One of my freshmen girls so eloquently reminded me of this simple truth today. (I don’t think she even realized the profundity of what she said, or the impact that it had on me. That’s the beauty of innocence sometimes.)
As we were walking to my car, I dropped my Hydroflask on the pavement and dinged up one of its edges. I let out an exasperated sigh, as this was the second time this has happened. One ding was enough; I could hide that. But two dings? Now that’s just annoying. And so much harder to cover up.
After the initial clanging of the metal bottle hitting the pavement, my friend remarked, somewhat nonchalantly, “It’s still beautiful.”
It’s still beautiful…
I didn’t think much of it at first. Laughed it off and continued walking.
But then, not two minutes later, she caught me looking at my water bottle again, my irritation still evident. And again she says, “It’s still beautiful.”
And that’s when it hits me.
It’s still beautiful. Just like people.
Despite our imperfections, our bumps and dings and hurt, we are still beautiful. We are still worthy of love. In fact, it is because of those imperfections that we are beautiful. Honestly, we intuitively know that perfection is unattainable – but more importantly, perfection is freakin’ boring! It’s just not worth anyone’s time. I can now say that some of my “biggest screw-ups” in life have miraculously turned into my most beautiful learning experiences. And those were the times when I was nowhere near anyone’s definition of “perfect.”
But I was perfectly broken. And, somehow, that became enough.
Because when we have the ability to speak life and understanding into others by relating our “supposedly screwed up” stories, that is true beauty. When we can show them that they are not alone in their struggles or their insecurities or their mistakes, because we have been there, then we can be fully with them.
And yes, we are flawed and we will make mistakes when loving each other, but there is beauty and freedom in that too. And ironically, I only just realized this recently.
Today, while on the phone with Kristin Stockfisch (cool mentor lady I’ve spoken about in previous blog posts), she said something so simple, and yet so remarkable. (Context: she was helping me try to love people imperfectly.) She said this:
“Yes, I want to love you, but I will fail.”
How stinkin’ COOL is that?! Never in a million years would I think that I would ever say that. But still. As someone who completely believed, and lived out her life, according to the lie that love is conditional, this is a big deal. There is so much grace and freedom tied into this one sentence that I was left utterly speechless. I love it.
I have experienced love in so many different ways: the intentional love of friendship, the tough love that comes from being coached at an elite level, the gently-guiding love that has come from my parents, etc etc. But get this – all have been some sort of flawed.
Does that mean these forms of love were inherently bad? I don’t like to think so. At one point or another, they have left me broken, bruised, and a little bit dinged up, much like my Hydroflask. Some have been easier to reconcile than others – sometimes I have been able to hide my dings/hurt, other times I feel like I’ve just been smashed straight onto the pavement.
So, does that mean we quit loving each other? I answer with an emphatic NO. I learned something each time I was loved imperfectly. Eventually, grace came into the picture and overpowered the hurt. So I am certain that we must continue to recognize and embrace the imperfections in each other, and continue to love imperfectly. Otherwise, what really is the point?
Our imperfect love is nothing compared to the perfect love that comes from above, but it is what makes our experience here on earth truly meaningful. Imperfect people loving imperfectly. What a beautiful thing.