Imperfection is part of human life. It's alright for us to admit it to each other. We can be thankful and hopeful even while admitting that things aren't perfect. I've been learning about thanksgiving . . . and I find that the things I'm most thankful for don't come from within myself, anyway. They don't have anything to do with my success or failure. They have to do with the created world around me . . . the work of God's own hands. God's work in other people. God's providence as it appears in the simple and mundane. This is life.
When did we decide that a person had to say that their life was perfect because of faith? Have none of us ever read the Psalms??? Do we not remember the stories about the Israelites? How they struggled? What about the disciples? Doubters, liars . . . a bunch of friends who got jealous and anxious and tired.
I have shared meals with several different women this summer and have listened to the way they talk about their lives. I've tried to observe my own behavior . . . as I prepare to meet friends, and as I think about what I'll say . . . how do I feel compelled to talk about my life when somebody asks me a question?
This is just another part of walking through the desert - Learning how to let go of the idea that perfection is the only mark of God's presence in my life.
Musicians know about imperfection. Because of singing and playing piano, I have learned these things:
how to practice a skill. I know how to be in it for the long haul, working through mistake after mistake.
how to fail in public performance and still do it again.
how to fail and recover right then.
how to fail and forgive myself repeatedly.
how to admit that I'm scared out of my mind . . . and how to get up on stage anyway.
I know the joy and freedom of accepting criticism from other people when it's needed.
I know, even as an adult, how to learn from somebody else.
I have learned about all of these things and yet I find myself attached to the idea of saying, "Yes - my jobs are both perfect. Yes - everybody thinks I'm great. Yes - I feel completely secure in my work. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. Yes. There are no problems. I feel blessed because I can see that success has been given to me."
But that's the thing . . . this is the jumping off point . . . . God gave me life, not a guarantee of success.
I want to still be thanking God for life when I am unsuccessful. And I long for a culture full of women who are not afraid to face their imperfection and share it with other people - who feel like they can be open and honest about what's tough for them.
What if we recognized blessing as anything full of life or any expression of life at its fullest?
If that were really the case, I'd count some of my worst performances as blessings because they caused me to be very much alive and alert . . . and because I learned from them (I tell my students stories of my failures all the time because I want them to know that it's something they can deal with and survive, happy and healthy).
We could take it one step further, even.
It is a blessing to be in possession of a teachable spirit so that when everything goes wrong, we are able to adapt and find joy in different places.
It is a blessing to be alive. Just to be alive.
God gave me life. Not a guarantee of success.
Will I look at God and say, "No thank you." just because the gift isn't shaped like the culture I live in??? Like the Christian culture I live in???
No. I think not.
Friends, I don't like our culture very much. Can you tell? Prosperity teaching hurts my soul.
But I love life. And I love God. And I am grateful.
I want you to know that it's not a sin to admit that everything isn't right. And I want you to know that it's beautiful to bloom where you're planted.
Sometimes that means taking a job that's not the dream job. Or getting the dream job and realizing that it isn't what you thought. Because God is still there. God doesn't leave when our dreams get dashed. Or when we are injured by circumstance. God is the light shining through the cracks in the broken clay - calling you to brush the pieces aside so that you can see what's underneath. He can make something out of nothing. Don't you remember what we were before we were this?
We were dust.
We don't have anything to brag about.
Oh . . . but we have EVERYTHING to rejoice about.
I've learned something crazy about Joy - it exists in the dark places. It lives inside me when nothing else will live inside me. It's a countercultural well spring of anything good I could ever imagine. And God planted it in my heart. So that when things are not as they should be, I don't have to hunt for some claim to fame to justify my existence. All I have to do is go back to the first gift . . . the only gift . . . Life.
This is an excellent song by an excellent group of musicians. And it is my prayer tonight. For myself. For you. That we would know the dayspring of life. That we would be guided into a more authentic and full way of living . . . not dependent on human success. Only rejoicing in what is true and honest.
Peace & Goodness,