Yesterday my kids were discussing stretch marks and asked me if I had any. After giving birth to six large babies I replied, “Yes I do” and proceeded to show them the now faded, but still visible marks on my stomach where each one of them had stretched my skin as I carried them in pregnancy. My husband told our kids, “Those marks are beautiful and your Mum should be proud of them.” “They are marks that signify love and that she gave birth to you.”
But yet those same marks on my body could be termed an imperfection and an effort made to erase or disguise them.
Societies obsession with perfect – to make (something) completely free from faults or defects has caused us to lose rather than win in life. We’ve chased perfection, but it has and does come at a cost of the authentic, real and rawness of the beauty within and around us.
We constantly have the images, sounds and talk of perfection presented to us, but this, so called perfection is rarely attainable without some sort of intervention. I believe we should always seek to be the very best we were created to be and endeavour to enhance what we have been given. But not at the cost of us being authentic and unashamed to show who we really are.
Social media, movies, magazines and other visual images aren’t often just not real. Instead we view edited, photoshopped, touched up and often completely changed versions of what was a real person or place. Removal of lines, wrinkles, backgrounds, excess weight or anything else that is deemed unsightly is now common place and expected. The music and voices we listen to are often autotuned so that what you eventually hear is not the actual person’s abilities.
The cost of our constant desire and appetite for perfection is that we can very easily lose the essence and beauty of who we are. The emotions, beliefs and character traits that make us unique and special are revealed in our faces and bodies, and they tell our stories.
But continually alter and remove that core and unique signature of who we are to chase “perfection” and we will invariably need to replace the empty space it leaves with something. That something it seems is: mechanical effects in our music, people who look like plastic, spotless houses, cars and holidays we can’t afford and relationship choices that leave us feeling empty inside and hungering for the real, genuine and pure of heart.
It’s the lines of our faces, the signs of a life lived on our bodies, the indentations and scratch marks the kids or friends have left over time on our kitchen tables. The spot on a piece of artwork where the artists brush or pen slipped, a slight break in a voice, or missed note when a musician sings or plays; it all makes us who we are. It’s the obvious evidence of our lives lived; the “realness” that leaves us far from “perfect”, but yet beautiful nevertheless.
Jesus worked miracles, He laughed, He cried; He had far from perfect days where He was misunderstood and betrayed. After he rose from the dead He carried upon His body nail marks on his hands and feet. He knows what we go through, our imperfections, vulnerabilities our imperfections. But He says, We are His masterpiece; a work in progress – Holy but also being made Holy, and that He will be faithful to complete that which He started in us.
“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:10)
Today don’t exchange the authentic and realness of who you are to chase after so called perfection. Instead allow God to work in you to bring out the uniqueness of who you are. He’ll prune, cleanse and restore, transforming you into the best version of yourself, but you’ll still be you and that will be just perfect.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:1-4)
Prayer: Lord please help me not to get caught up in the world’s chasing after perfection at the cost of losing who I really am. I want to walk in the fullness of who I am and also all that you are purposing in me. Thank you for working in and through me today. In Jesus name Amen.