Thursday, May 22, 2014

Not Perfect

I was putting Sam to bed a few nights ago, and he pointed at his sheet in distress. "Not perfect, mama, not perfect!"

His choice of words made me laugh. His bed is never, even fresh from the laundry, perfect. Smooth & tidy is our goal, and even those? Toddler smooth. Toddler tidy.  Before he falls asleep, his sheets are usually untucked, stray blankets slip to the floor, pillows find themselves at the foot of the bed.  Ahh, just the way he likes it.

But I do the same thing.  When things don't go the way I plan, I grab God's hand and cry "not perfect! Not perfect!"

And he's probably laughing, because obviously.

And I keep expecting situations and people to live up to this impossible standard I imagine should exist.  It's like I forget that heaven comes later.  Every day I wake up and have to come to terms again with the fact that I live on a planet full of sinners and acknowledge that things go wrong.  When things are hard and the car breaks down and the furnace breaks down and my temper breaks down its not that God has it out for me or that He's unkind and is sending a bunch of difficulties because He doesn't like me.

Things go wrong because creation is bent.
Things go wrong because sin is.

Things go wrong.

And we're all nodding because we all have this expectation that echoes from a perfect eternity in our hearts, this innate understanding, a sense of rightness and an appreciation of beauty and peace.  And the sudden surprise of disappointment when things go wrong is the dissonance, the harsh clang of reality bumping up against expected perfection.

"Not perfect!" we cry, distressed.

And God, being God, takes that imperfection and makes it the hiding place of loveliness.

In poetry, in music, we get it.  When the creator deliberately inserts dissonance into the art, we pay attention.  There's something beautiful hidden here.  There's another layer of meaning to unfold, some secret to discover, something worth finding.

That not-perfect? It's the gap where there's enough space for grace to meet us.  With perfect, we don't need grace. But imperfect? That's where grace blazes.

I am and do a whole lot of non-perfection.  You'd think it would make me more understanding and tender towards others, but instead I find in myself a tendency to judge. To point and murmur "not perfect." At you. At myself.

And my sister or my husband or someone who loves me nods and shrugs and loves me anyway and I realize it's not exactly a surprise.  Nobody - nothing - in this world is perfect. Human history is just bad guys and Jesus.  Anything good comes from Him.

But somehow I try and try and still the sheets come untucked and I misspell a word and forget garbage day and my house smells old and my car creaks and I think I left the laundry in the washer again and

Not perfect!

Grace hears the "not perfect" and laughs.  Grace doesn't expect perfect.  Grace doesn't expect. 

Grace receives what is.
Toddler-smooth and toddler-tidy and toddler-untidy too.

My heart longs for heaven, for the day when work produces its intended result and isn't hindered by
my own clumsiness or someone else's. For the restfulness of perfection and beauty and rightness.  But right now, I'm going to work on soaking in grace. On expecting imperfection from everything and everyone but Jesus.  On receiving the wrong things, the cacophony, the interruptions ... and loving it, instead of pointing and shrieking "not perfect."

Because ... obviously.


  1. So good.... Love how you so often see eternal lessons in the every day happenings/sayings. such a gift.