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Pulling Threads

November 25, 2013

My meditation this morning touched on a number of interwoven themes I have been pondering for some time.  I was moved to pull a couple of threads out of the tapestry in order to better appreciate them.


The Western is obsessed with perfection.  The Hellenistic mindset that pervades our culture salutes things that are perfect, pretty, lasting or spectacular.  Applying Aristotelian and Socratic thought patterns rather than the Eastern mind of Jesus, most Christians and non-Christians alike have come to define success in terms of financial wealth, power, control and fame (resulting, as I see it, in the somewhat mystifying dichotomy between our notions of human greatness and personal success).  Aspiring to these things, North Americans (and increasing others as we export our thinking to the rest of the world) are always in self-improvement mode, trying to be more beautiful (as our media-driven society defines it), more productive, more efficient, more spiritual, more successful, more everything.  This is not all bad.  More is better. 


Until it isn’t.  Growth can turn into obsession with the accompanying frenzied, dissatisfied feeling that nothing we do is good enough.  In focusing on self-improvement, looking at every situation and moment as an opportunity for personal advancement, we tend to lose an accurate perception of what’s around us (while also, I believe, losing focus on who we really are).


Besides, perfection is a pointless goal, since outside of God it does not exist.  Reality is, that like all His creation, I am ephemeral, broken, and unfinished.  But I am confident that God who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus  (Philippians 1:6).  I feel no need to strive to be perfect, for I believe in a perfect God who tells me through scripture that He can take my imperfection and use it to do something remarkable, that He uses the foolish and weak to accomplish His purposes.  Therefore living in the shadow of His perfection is far less weighty upon my soul.


He knows who I am, who I am not, and who I will be.  He and I are both well aware of my imperfection.  But He tells me I am not my imperfection.   For as He casts His eyes upon me, He sees not me, but His Son. He not only accepts me, He loves me just as I am, in all my brokenness.  


I believe it behoves me to do likewise.  To me this means not merely “accepting” my imperfection, as countless lifestyle gurus would have me do.  My imperfection is not just a peripheral I should accommodate, it is the very core of the issue.  I encounter great wisdom in the lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s Anthem:


 Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in. 


It’s the crack in me that makes me realize I can’t do it alone.  It’s the crack in me that brings me to my knees. It’s my awareness and understanding of my emptiness and imperfection that moves me away from focusing on perfection, and evokes a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing.  This is the message of Luke 7:47.


Acceptance of my imperfection has further implications for me.  It is our imperfections that determine our humanness, something I think we should embrace and celebrate.   It is our quirks and shortcomings, our peculiarities and frailties that add uniqueness and elegance to who we are.  I believe that in valuing humanness over perfection, I take a step toward the humanity and sacrifice that Jesus embodies.  I am moved to a place from where I can release my need to judge and label, a place from where I can be more accepting of and loving toward others, a place from where I can better see and embrace that despite our imperfection, we are all perfect for God’s intents.  This is splendidly expressed by Steve Maraboli in his book Life, the Truth, and Being Free.


 We have all heard that no two snowflakes are alike. Each snowflake takes the perfect form for the maximum efficiency and effectiveness for its journey. And while the universal force of gravity gives them a shared destination, the expansive space in the air gives each snowflake the opportunity to take their own path. They are on the same journey, but each takes a different path.  Along this gravity-driven journey, some snowflakes collide and damage each other, some collide and join together, some are influenced by wind… there are so many transitions and changes that take place along the journey of the snowflake. But, no matter what the transition, the snowflake always finds itself perfectly shaped for its journey.


These threads I will now work back into my beliefs.  Perhaps they will be the warp, providing strength and texture.  Perhaps they will be the weft, contributing colour and pattern.  Whichever they be, the fabric will be richer for them.

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