Perfect Imperfect

A few years ago, as I sat writing at my desk before the sun rose, I inaudibly heard “look up” and saw that sections of the library’s cathedral ceiling were, falling!

My first step was emptying the room. Art, photos, gifts, precious mementos from my daughters and grandchildren, and hundreds of books (yep, I counted them) were lined up on the stairs to the second floor and stacked in the family room. 

After the contractor installed new drywall, crown molding, and ceiling fans, my spouse spent an exhausting weekend priming and painting the towering ceiling. 

In a stroke of pure genius (pun intended), I thought, “since everything else is updated, I should finally add trim molding to the bookcases!” That took four seconds to say but at least forty hours to accomplish!

random side note:
God bless him; Larry supports my “need to create enriching, Zen-like spaces because outer peace facilitates inner peace” mindset.

I discovered that working with molding and working on ourselves have commonalities:
1. Sand the rough wood—we, ideally, “sand down” our rough edges too
2. Prime—we apply a “primer” to cope with challenging situations; maybe a pep talk, reality-check, glass of wine, or deep breath.
3. Then paint—we “put on” the public face we present to the world—perhaps tattoos, perfect makeup, or a fabulous (or shocking) outfit.

I cut thirty-eight pieces of wood in the lower-level shop, often taking them back for tweaking, trimming just a bit to create a perfect fit. How often, to fit in, do we “trim back” part of ourselves?

Attaching each piece to the bookcase was next.
1. Drill pilot holes—like “baby steps” that make difficult paths easier to navigate.
2. Hammer the trim into place—we sometimes “force ourselves into place.” 
3. Set the nails, wood-fill holes, resand, then touch up with paint—much like hiding our “imperfections,” they’re still there, but we’ve tried to conceal them.   

Since we’re most impressionable in our formative years, concealing or covering-over may have occurred so long ago that you no longer remember it. Whether you grew up believing you’re like a flawless piece of mahogany or a chunk of common pine, your experiences have profoundly impacted who you are today.

Setting the shelves back in, I put the least perfect ones where they’d be less visible. We hide in back corners—sometimes literally, often figuratively, afraid to show our less-than-perfect selves, fearful someone may realize we aren’t who we appeared to be at first glance. 

We often try to be like a perfectly staged bookcase with beautiful items, sharing what we’re proud to show off, not allowing others to see our less-than-perfect pine boards, scars, holes, or patched areas. 

How often do we discount being real to create the illusion of perfect?

God sees all of us—the exquisite and the unbeautiful, the flawless and the patched, the pristine façade and the dark, hidden corners. And God loves all of us. Maybe we should aspire to love all of ourselves too.

final side note:
Some of my less-than-perfect hole-filling is obvious when the light hits just right. My gut reaction is to go back and do it again, but I think I’ll live with it. I’m certainly not perfect; why should my bookcases be?

With love for all of our beautiful imperfections,


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