Sometimes, the imperfections in life add the most beauty. I have quite a few photos of my thumb, but in this age of photo-editing, most of those photos are cropped or deleted before they meet the eye. But this photo, well it’s not of my thumb. The thumb belongs to a 7 year old little girl named Gracee. She took the photo of her mom and me. And the thumb? Well, I think this imperfection makes the photo just perfect. It literally has her fingerprints all over it!
I think sometimes, in this day and age, we miss the opportunity to enjoy and celebrate the imperfections of life. I can remember a precious woman once showing me the piece of furniture that her son had sunk his teeth into when he was first teething. Twenty years later, she could rub her hand over that piece of furniture and smile remembering the precious stage of life that her son was in during that time. So when my son, who was learning to write his name, autographed not one, but three pieces of furniture by digging in with a ball point pen, I remembered her words. It helped me to not scream to the high heavens and run out to sand and refinish our furniture in order to have it be acceptable in appearance to others outside of our home. (Did I mention that the furniture was antique cherry and had been my Great Aunt’s? Yikes.) I am thankful that she had told me that story because my reaction probably would have been quite a bit different for both me and my son on that day had I not heard that story, that’s for sure. ( I think I still did scream though, to be quite honest, but my son did survive and we have laughed about his ‘autographs’ many times!)
Sometimes we put so much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, or to appear to have things altogether. We order our worlds so much, that there’s very little room for imperfections, and we can get so down on ourselves for making mistakes or appearing to not have it all together. But imperfections often give opportunity for grace. Rigidity and perfection give way to grace and creativity because the fear of making a mistake is alleviated by freedom to fail. The irony is that in being okay with failing, there’s freedom to grow. When one is terrified of making a mistake, there’s little room for growth. When one is around someone who appears to be “perfect” it can make a person feel very constrained and guarded for fear of making a mistake. I’ve been that person…so hard on myself and feeling so condemned by internal thoughts of just not measuring up. However, having 6 children in less than 9 years quickly helped me get over that myth of perfection and hang on to being thankful for the little things in life! Martha Stewart menus quickly give way to spaghetti and grilled cheese in the real world of raising young children. No matter what I did, I couldn’t measure up to some of these external standards. The freedom came in giving up on those external standards, and listening to the calling that God had on my life as a unique individual. The way I lived my life would be just that, my life. And my prayer is that God’s fingerprints would be seen all over it.
So, bring on the thumbs in photos, and teethmarks in furniture. Bring on the spaghetti and meatballs and paper plates. There’s grace. Our awareness of the beauty in our world can be so heightened by the truth that we are imperfect. We are. And that is so okay. God loves us right where we are. Knowing that can help us to want to grow and be all that He has created us to be. I love Gracee’s photo. If her thumb had not been in it, it would have only been part of the story because it would have just been a picture of her mom and I. But with her thumb, well, that tells the story of a little girl who was excited about taking a photo of her mom and her mom’s friend, and that was sweet. She wanted to give and do that for us. That’s the ‘big picture’, and it just makes me smile. Nope, I won’t be editing this photo. It’s perfect with its imperfections.
So it is with Grace.