Perfectly Imperfect

We all have flaws. I hope you realize this fact. The single most obvious trait of humankind is our abundant diversity of errors. Everyone makes mistakes. People skew toward selfish motives more often than not. We claim dominance over a natural world we cannot possibly control and allege mastery in topics that remain mysterious.

Looking outward, it is much easier to identify displeasing features about ourselves than it is to list self-affirming or positive attributes. Surveys show about half of Americans want to lose a few pounds. Skee-Lo wished he was a little bit taller. The quest for exterior beauty keeps the cosmetic surgery industry profitable. It is too easy to look in the mirror with thoughts: too skinny, too fat, too short, too tall, my nose is crooked, my ears are not even.

Looking inward we could all admit blemishes in our character. One of the hard lessons I have learned over the past couple of years is that I am more self-centered than I would care to admit. I know I'm not alone. It should not take much effort to honestly assess some personal failures. Perhaps you cheated on your taxes, imbibe more alcohol than you probably should, openly mock others without regard to the weight of your words, possess bad habits that you cannot seem to break.

If you are anything like me, you brush this off with feigned humility or cover it with self deprecating humor. It is as if we trust self inflicted insults to lessen the impact or severity of our folly.

We view our errant ways - intentional slights, unintended failings, and unavoidable results of genetics as a witch who turned us into a newt. We read self-help books, attend therapy, seek wise counsel, follow 12 step plans, and at the end of the day we bravely declare "I got better."

Better is a funny word. Too often we strive for perfection unaware of improvements along the way. Realistically, better is the best we can hope for.

A result of residency on terra firma is that we will always be imperfect. We get better then realize that we still have flaws.

As long as our hearts beat, we will be incomplete. As long as our lungs draw breath, we will be tragically flawed. As long as synapses fire within our brains, we will be perfectly imperfect.

From a spiritual perspective, I believe this points to our need for a savior. Perfection is something unattainable without some sort of supernatural intervention. For this reason, Paul wrote to the Philippian church "Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own." He knew that he wasn't perfect. Perfection is a long term goal - something to strive toward.

From a scientific perspective, I see this as a result of entropy - a measurable disorder. All systems seek equilibrium and our bodies are subject to the laws of thermodynamics. There might be psychologists out there who could disprove me, but I believe our emotions act with fluidity and seek the same equilibrium as any thermodynamic system. We are born into a world of disorder and that chaos is reflected in the ebb and flow of our emotional state.

This should not be thought of as a bad thing. It should be a reminder that we are all in process. It should demonstrate that we all have room to grow and improve. It should encourage second chances and grace and understanding.

You have not arrived. Neither have I. For better or worse, we are imperfectly human.

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