Is it possible that the brokenness we fight so hard to avoid is really the key to overcoming our battle with perfectionism?
I am not perfect.
I’m sure that does not come as a shock to you, but I still absolutely hate uttering that phrase.
Because I so desperately want to be perfect. Not in a prideful way of wanting to be above anybody else, but more because I want to be perfect for everybody else. I want to be more. I want to be better. I want to be utterly dependable and reliable and unshakable to not only stand on my own but also to hold others up at the same time.
All These Pieces, Broken & Scattered
But, sadly (or fortunately?), that intense desire is not enough to make it true. Perfection is not within my reach.
I don’t ever want to be the person who loses her patience and utters a hurtful word to a loved one…but I’ve done it.
I don’t want to be the one who makes decisions from a place of fear instead of faith…but I do it daily.
I don’t want to be the one carrying tender scars from old wounds…but despite my best efforts, they are still there.
Because I am broken. I am a jar of clay that has been cracked and chipped over the years with hurtful words, broken trust, failure, weakness, and unrequited dreams.
One of the things I’ve prided myself on in my life is bouncing back after heartache with optimism. I hold onto hope and joy with tightly grasped fingers, depending on them to lift me out of valleys of fear, worry, and doubt. Rising above calls for celebration, but what happens to the in between time?
The times that my fingers have slipped and worry pulled me into its vortex of anxiousness, I scold myself.
You know better, so do better.
I’ve seen my brokenness only as a flaw to overcome, believing that if I’m not perfect, if I let my cracks show, it’s a lack of faith. A lack of desire. A lack of trying.
If I show my brokenness, it means I am not trusting God and that just can’t be true when I do my best to wholly offer myself up into His arms daily. But that’s not the case at all.
In reality, my brokenness is really only evidence of my humanity.
To Be Human is to Need
“To be human is to need others, and this is no flaw or weakness.” -Dr. Sue Johnson. A friend shared this quote with me recently. The second that words were out of her mouth, I squirmed. I cringed. Those words don’t feel good to me at all.
I am honored and blessed when I’m needed by others, but when it’s my turn to need?
I fight against it.
I try to handle it all on my own. I’ll share the facts about tough situations with friends and follow them up with, “…but it’s okay. I’m okay.” Even when it isn’t. Even when I’m not.
I unintentionally do everything I can to prevent my cracks from showing.
It’s not that I’m trying to hide things from other people or be inauthentic. It’s that sometimes I can’t even admit my brokenness to myself.
I’ve been learning about the humility of Daniel in small group recently. A man who did not shy away from boldly proclaiming his positive attributes, as well as acknowledging his negative qualities. His humility was not about trying to seem less than anyone else or better than others. He simply saw himself as he was – extremely gifted, but not without flaws.
He knew he was still broken and in that, he was able to see His constant need for God.
I hate that my brokenness affects other people in my life. It’s not fair to them to have to deal with the burdens I bring. I would much rather bring them untainted joy, love, and goodness than worries and tears.
It’s so much easier to ignore that it’s there. Push it aside, sweep it under the rug, anything to keep it out of sight and out of mind, holding onto the hope that it no longer exists.
Except that wanting it not to exist does not extinguish its existence.
It’s still there, crumbled pieces held together by a flimsy facade of togetherness ready to tear at any moment.
In Mercy Gathered, Mended & Whole
“Your wounds are seen.” Ann Voskamp wrote those words in an email this week and in the middle of a perfectly bright, wonderful, joyful day, tears immediately sprang to my eyes.
You see, I forget those wounds are there. Those scars are a part of me – past, present, and future. It’s not that they define me, but they do shape me. Those moments when my heart was so broken I was just sure it had to be physically ripping apart inside of my chest. The nights when heaving tears were the only prayers I could utter. They affect my thoughts, feelings, perspectives, and responses.
And those dark, painful, imperfect times are just as significant as the victories. Christ was there just as poignantly in the darkness, catching my tears in the palm of His healing hands and carrying me through the worst moments of my life.
Omitting the brokenness from my life cheapens the faithfulness of Christ.
It steals the depth from my story. And from yours.
Maybe, just maybe, admitting your brokenness is not a sign of weakness, but a badge of strength. Maybe, those cracks that you thought were simply exposing the raw, vulnerable, embarrassing pieces of yourself are not fissures of darkness, but conduits of light and power.
Those gaps in our strength and abilities don’t leave us empty, they offer us the opportunity to find wholeness in Him.
Acknowledge that brokenness is there. Don’t run away in fear, embarrassment, guilt, or shame. God is calling you back to Him and back to relationship with others with a tender voice of grace and unfailing love, gifts that are impossible to earn with perfection.
Seeing your brokenness and opening up your heart, inviting Him into those dark, lonely, messy, shattered place…it’s the only way to find the perfection we seek. Perfection in Christ, the One who never fails.
Amazing grace, how sweet the sound.