Archive for October, 2012

Living with Imperfections

My parents bought me a car when I graduated from high school.  Lest you have visions of a convertible or some candy-red foreign car, it was a brown and white 1959 Ford Fairlane which had accumulated about five years of dents from the previous owner who was the elderly mother of a family friend.  Her driving days were over; my driving days were just beginning!  They paid $75.00 cash for the car. 

I drove that car to and from college, work, and church.  The car had no seat belts and I quickly discovered that I could get eight—maybe nine–people in my car.  If I had made use of the massively large trunk, I could have carried even more.

In addition to having no seat belts, the car had no heater or defroster.  I bundled up whenever I drove in the winter, but rolled the window down so my breath wouldn’t fog up the inside of the windshield.  I had an ice scraper handy for when it did.   The radio didn’t work, so I bought a small transistor radio (only a handful of folks will know what a transistor radio is!) and taped it to the dashboard so that I could have a little music from the local AM stations.  Having no heater and no radio seemed odd only when someone else would ride with me and say, “how do you manage without a heater?” or notice my transistor radio and say, “I’d go crazy without a real radio.”  I didn’t mind; I had learned to live with my 1959 Ford Fairlane’s imperfections.  It served me well for five years.

Every car that I have driven since 1978 has had a heater and a radio but also has had some kind of quirk.  Maybe not as obvious as not having a heater or radio, but there has been something imperfect about every car.  I have learned to live—and drive–with imperfection.

As obsessed as we are with perfection in this society (perfect hair, perfect teeth, perfect bodies, perfect lives), it is more Christlike to learn to live with imperfection.  When we learn to live with and accept imperfections in ourselves and in others, we are more Christlike.  It’s not “I’ll love you if you are a brand new 2012 car loaded with lots of cool features” but “I’ll love you even if you are a dented 1959 Ford Fairlane with no heater or radio.”  This is not to suggest that we humans aren’t supposed to try and live better lives or be better persons during our lives, but Christ didn’t say, “Fix yourself up and then come follow me,” he simply said, “Follow me” — dents, no seat belts, no heater, no radio and all. 

Christ calls us all of us imperfect beings, and loves us with a graceful, not a critical eye.  He calls us to follow him however we are, whoever we are, and he calls us to serve him with what we have been given, for as long as we live.  So it is as we live with our imperfections in service to Christ that we find that we are loved perfectly.


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