My first year in MOPS (mothers of preschoolers) the theme was “A Beautiful Mess.” Being somewhat Type-A and obsessed with order (okay, so maybe I’m completely Type-A), that idea kind of bugged me. Order is a good thing–perhaps even something I kind of, well, worship. I like a clean kitchen, a spotless living room, and I make my bed every day, despite the fact that I only return to my room to put away laundry or sleep. It’s kind of a pointless pursuit, don’t you think? Besides the fact that it makes me oh so happy.
But back to messes.
I’ve been noticing recently how much I absolutely love messy people. Granted, I’m not necessarily talking about messy houses (although I mind those less and less these days); I mean those people–especially women–who are open and honest about their faults and failings. Those women with imperfect bodies, hair that needs a touch-up by the colorist, and a vocabulary that’s diminished with either age, children, overload, or a combination of all three.
You know: people like me.
And yet, in spite of knowing what kind of people I want in my life, I find myself engaged in this impossible pursuit of perfection. I want to lose the baby weight, gain muscle, and uncover a perfect body. I want to discard a wardrobe that consists of three different sizes of clothes and start anew with pieces that are current and fresh. I want an adorable haircut and perfect makeup. I want a clean, new car (without a car payment, thankyouverymuch). I want to once again be able to utter a complete, coherent sentence. I want to be the mom who’s beaten depression and is happy and pleasant. And for crying in the sink, would it be too much trouble to have perfect kids?
Basically, I want to be perfect and to become someone who, to the current me, would seem unapproachable and maybe not quite real. But did you notice–it took me a minute to see it–all those things I want are external. What about the inner me? I am not defined by my love handles, the food wrappers in the back seat of my car, my crazy-haired kid, or even the black cloud that’s hanging over my head these days. Those are aspects of my life, and perhaps some of them need adjusting, but they are not me.
Imperfect authenticity allows room to breathe.
While I’m not planning to just let myself go and become a complete slob, either physically or relationally, I am purposing to be more authentic. After all, I’m an American; we are genetically engineered to relate to and cheer for the underdog. So whether you notice the dust on my piano or the visible cobwebs in my brain, just chalk it up to me being real. Or if you see that friend with the warm smile framed by messy hair atop a thrown-together outfit, embrace her and the fact that she’s comfortable enough to be herself.
So, if you can overlook the dirt on my floor and the fog in my brain, want to come over for coffee? We can practice being imperfect together.