Embracing Imperfection

by Jennfer Haynie @JenniferHaynie1

“You got the year wrong,” Steve, my husband, informed me when he looked at the invitation we’d printed for a party we’re having soon.

Oh, no. It’d happened. In my weariness from a long day and in my rush to get something out the door, I’d failed to produce what in my mind should have been the perfect invitation. Then I berated myself for messing it up.

That got me to thinking. For much of my life, perfection had been the way to go. Perfectly clean room. Perfection in music. Perfection in school. And worse, perfection in my faith. I became very adept at checking boxes.

Then came college and the wakeup call that showed me life is full of imperfection. My first test scores said it all. I wasn’t perfect. I didn’t know it all. And now I had to deal with that.

I’m not going to lie to you.

It was hard.

Really hard since first tests are when many students who sail through high school realize. Thankfully, I caught on to the need to spend hours studying really quickly. But it was more than that.

By sophomore year, I realized something else. Checking off spiritual boxes, read, being good, was not going to provide for eternal life. Yes, good works are important and help to show a genuine walk with Jesus. But what was more critical was realizing that admitting imperfection, admitting to the flaws I had, the selfishness in my heart, admitting to my strong desire to put my will above God’s, was the first step toward salvation.

I was messed up. I needed fixing, and only Jesus could do that.

Still, it’s hard to give up old ways. It’s difficult to come down from perfectionist tendencies, to realize that we can’t work our way to acceptance with God even if we can to a surficial perfection.

But in this walk with God, I learned to let go of that tendency. And with letting go came something I never expected. Less stress.

I won’t lie. I still have times when I get stressed, either at work or at home, but those times don’t come as fast, and they aren’t as strong, as they used to be.

Not that I aim to do a shoddy job. Not at all. But if something happens at work, and I find a typo in a document or something else happens, it’s not like the end of the world. I’m able to cope better.

So last week when I sat there and stared at the flaw on the invitation (it can happen when using an old one as a boilerplate), I did something I never expected. I told Steve, “Just scratch it out.” Yes, that’s right. I didn’t run a whole new batch of twenty invitations.

And you know what?

It felt so freeing.

Question: What was a time when you embraced imperfection and felt freed?

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