Not long ago, I would have answered this with a "duh". Don't we all want to be perfect? There are million dollar industries all around us promising everything from perfect teeth to perfect toenails, and we are more than happy to pay. Those things are fairly easy to achieve without a lot of cost or discomfort.
The perfection I'm talking about isn't the kind that can be easily bought and veneered over. It's the kind that makes people say good things about you and wonder at your amazing strength and abilities. It's the kind that makes you feel proud when people come to you for advice, believing that you have it all together. Of course, you know there have been bumps along the way, but the outside still looks pretty doggone good.
But what do you do when that perfect image is shattered? Something in your world changes so drastically that eventually everyone who knows you, knows.
OK, so we all know that the image of perfection is only an image. No human being can be perfect. Churches aren't. Friends aren't. Parents aren't. Marriages aren't. Families aren't. Teeth aren't. Toenails aren't. Because all those things are made of or from human beings. But we're pretty content to let people enjoy that image, right?
I was (content). Until it was obvious that I wasn't (perfect). Not only was I imperfect, I was downright broken.
What did I do?
I retreated for a while. I learned to redefine myself a little more realistically. I was necessarily humbled.
What have I learned?
I've learned that I am not defined by my personal successes or failures.
I've learned that when I'm going through something hard, I look for others who have already been through the same thing, not the perfect people.
I've learned that I can help others who have just begun to walk down this road that I've already walked a few miles on. They won't be looking to the perfect people, either.
I've learned that it's ok to be real and people still love me even if I'm not perfect. In fact, they thank me for being real. They say it helps them to be real.
I've learned that it's incredibly freeing to not have to hold up some image that wasn't real.
I've learned the beauty of grace and mercy.
I've learned about God's infinite Love.
I've learned that the story isn't finished.
I choose broken. The cost is high and the discomfort is at times almost unbearable, but the beauty on the other side is so worth it.