Gifts of Imperfection – Guidepost 2 – Cultivating Self-Compassion – Letting Go of Perfectionism

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Gifts of Imperfection

Depending on what you are reading this on, you might need to zoom in on the bottom of the left wing of this butterfly.  This beautiful creature was on our butterfly bush the other day and was kind (and calm) enough for me to get pretty close and be able to zoom in.  From a distance, this butterfly looks “Perfect” – beautiful coloring, matching patterns on the wings, and so forth.  However, its not until you look a bit closer and you’ll see that there are what look to be cracks/scars/something that are criscrossing the left wing (they’re white in case you are not seeing them initially).  But from a distance, you don’t see them…its only as you get in a bit closer, look a bit deeper, that you realize that the butterfly isn’t perfect.  Or maybe it is…

Our associate pastor, Lisa, yesterday preached a powerful message on letting go of the need for perfectionism yesterday in worship (I’ll link it when it gets uploaded to our church website) and just really spoke to me about how, if we look a bit deeper in our own lives and also let others into our lives, then we’ll realize that none of us are perfect but we’re all people who are broken/scarred/have weaknesses/etc…

Brown paints this so beautifully in this chapter….she writes…

Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimize or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame…Perfectionism is addictive because when we invariably do experience shame, judgment, and blame, we often believe it’s because we weren’t perfect enough…

Brown moves us from understanding what perfectionism looks and feels like into self-compassion – specifically being kind to ourselves, recognizing the common humanity that we share, and practicing mindfulness (having “a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated.”)

While the Apostle Paul wouldn’t have used the same terminology as Brown, I find a deep resonance in his words to the Corinthians church in 2 Corinthians 4:7-9…

But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;

No clay jar that is made by hand is “perfect” – it will always have some imperfection in it, but the beauty is that those imperfections are what make it unique and reflect that it was created by a Creator.  Just like us…

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