As you may (or may not) know by now, I’m a passionate advocate for words of loving kindness. “Walk the WOLK,” I like to say. Walk the words of loving kindness.
But life is not perfect!
And when life is not perfect, it’s not easy to walk the WOLK, to walk the words of loving kindness, and often my prayer has been “Change my heart, O God.”
Words of loving kindness come from our heart, and without gratitude, my heart falters in the harder moments, the bigger conversations.
Last week I talked about gratitude being one of my three non-negotiables for the year. But I have to be careful, because my perfectionist leanings can impact my sense of gratitude—personal gratitude and the gratitude I feel toward others.
My sense of gratitude can color a conversation, bring about judgments, separate me from others.
I don’t mean to judge. I don’t intend to further our divisions, but smaller moments in my day can frame bigger ones in ways I never expected. Yes, those smaller moments—like moments with a crossword, moments on a walk, and moments in study.
I’m someone who does her Sunday crossword puzzle in ink.
My goal is always to complete the puzzle perfectly—without a single mistake.
Last week I also talked about another non-negotiable—my biking and walking streak—which is now at 171 days. Before heading out on any given day, I check the weather app on my phone to determine the “perfect” time for my ride, my walk.
For years I’ve had the perfect plans for morning Bible study and prayer, one chapter, one lesson, all the blanks filled in followed by carefully scripted prayers for family, friends, and the world.
But life is not perfect. And no surprise to any of us that despite my “perfect” intentions, there have been Sundays with inked-in mistakes on my crossword. Even with the weather app, there have been days with howling winds and torrential downpours, misty mornings and frosty afternoons. There have also been days when I turned my attention to work before opening my Bible for study.
Life is not perfect, but I continue to insist that it can be, that I can make it so, that I can be. And when I do that, I’m sitting in a “glass half empty” existence that elevates me, myself, and I, leaving me to discount too many of the blessings that surround me.
Here’s what I know for sure: It’s difficult to be grateful when focused on perfection. And it’s difficult to find words of loving kindness without gratitude. That first mistake in the crossword puzzle becomes the moment I want to quit. That cold, rainy morning becomes the moment I want to park the bike, skip the walk. That day I missed my study time becomes the reason to stop altogether.
Knowing life is not perfect, it’s hard for me to deal with “less than.”
My desire to be my best can quickly morph into wanting/needing/seeking to be “the” best.
And when I do that, I overlook past blessings, I miss the blessings I’m experiencing right now, and I also dismiss the blessings to come.
For me, gratitude can get linked to the moments I’d hoped for and actually got.
And those other moments, like when I’ve written (in ink!) the wrong word in the crossword become “Oh…! I messed up.” not “Oh…! There’s a different answer, a better solution.”
In her inaugural poem, Amanda Gorman shared a simple, yet profound, truth about life’s experiences. She talked about how in our grief, we grow, in our hurt, we hope, in our exhaustion, we try. When life is not perfect.
Kintsugi (kin-su’-gee) is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery.
Pieces are mended with a lacquer mixed with powered gold, silver or platinum. The breakage and repair are treated as part of an object’s history, not something to be hidden. Flaws and imperfections are embraced, celebrated for their beauty.
Have you ever celebrated your flaws? How can we embrace imperfections, knowing life is not perfect?
Life is not perfect and life’s bigger conversations can be difficult. Life’s harder discussions are harder, especially if we can’t embrace our own imperfections and the imperfections of those around us, if we don’t value wisdom and experience, patience and understanding, those parts in life that have often come with our own brokenness, pieces that have been glued together with the gold of God’s love and faithfulness. Beautiful artwork to be celebrated and embraced.
I’m learning that gratitude isn’t just about thanking God for what I’ve wanted all along.
But life is not perfect and gratitude is about thanking God for what is—not only for what is in my life, but for what is in your life, too. Gratitude values my own life experiences, as well as your life experiences. Gratitude values the beauty of our pieced together glasses, each one unique in its design. Glasses half empty? Not a one. Glasses half full? More than.
On Sunday, I made several mistakes—in ink, but I treasured the quiet time with my crossword puzzle. Last week on my walk, I smiled while listening to birds singing in the cold—the brutal cold!—of the morning. Today I finished my Beth Moore Bible study, a 10-week study took me almost 16 weeks, but I made it happen day by day, chapter by chapter, page by page.
And for it all, I’m grateful.
At Fave Lifestyles we talk about doing life together. One of the things I’ve most valued about Karen Rae is her ability to embrace life’s flaws and imperfections and help us celebrate the beauty that is us, knowing life is not perfect.
What does your kintsugi bowl look like? How have your imperfections come together in the most beautiful ways? How have they fostered in you a spirit of gratitude?
I close with a verse from a letter the apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians, from chapter 3, verse 15:
“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts,
to which indeed you were called in one body.
And be thankful.”
I thank God for this time together. It’s an honor and a privilege. I also want to thank my husband, Kurt, who read about kintsugi pottery and said, “You need to talk about this.”
Yes, I did. Why? Because life is not perfect. But it’s very beautiful!