Beautifully Imperfect

So much of my life has been about flowers.

Bleeding Heart
Creeping Phlox

I was raised with a great appreciation for the Lord's amazing creation. I stripped the lawn out of a 50+ square foot area of my parents' front yard in my late grade school years for the creation of a bulb and perennial garden. I worked with a landscape crew throughout my high school years. I then graduated college with a degree in Horticulture. Since then I've worked as a landscape crew member, Landscape Designer, gardening blogger, and a florists' assistant. 

And even though I no longer work directly with plants or flowers in my actual occupation anymore, I still think about flowers quite a lot. And this spring has been no exception.

I've always been so amazed at the intricacy and seemingly exactness of blooms and their petal patterns. I'm continually in awe of the way these flowers return year after year, even after harsh winters, extreme dry spells and all of the other cruel elements surrounding them. They emerge each year with the same beauty and grace out of what seems to be nothingness.

Forget-me-nots

Only this spring, I've been focusing more on a different aspect of them. Their imperfection.

Have you ever taken the time to really look at a flower or the flowering plant as a whole? I would challenge you to find one without a single flaw. There is not a flowering tree with an exact perfect branching structure or the exact same amount of flowers per limb. But yet they are beautiful -- one could even argue that it is their imperfection that makes them so.

Recurvus Daffodil
Dinnerplate Dahlia

Isn't it kind of the same way with our personalities and places in life? Do we have our faults and weaknesses? Of course. And while we continually strive to overcome these faults and purge our weaknesses, God continues to use us (and them!) for His glory and good. He has a plan and purpose for each of us that only each of us could fulfill -- together with all of our imperfections. 

Lily of the Valley

Maybe you tend to be a bit rash in your decision-making. But you also probably effectively get things done and keep conversations moving.

Maybe you obsess over cleanliness and organization. But I'll bet your household remains relatively healthy and that you can find anything your child needs to complete his science project.

Maybe you struggle with getting out of bed when your alarm tells you its time (me!). But perhaps this gives your child great delight when she gets to climb in bed with you for a few minutes before the race of the day begins.

Maybe you find yourself in frequent stages of depression or anxiety and wonder why you can't get your act together. But as a result, you are most likely more sensitive and aware of what others may be going through and can listen to a friend like no other.

And the list goes on.

Whatever you consider your "weaknesses" to be, each one can be a strength in raising your family, loving your spouse, encouraging a friend or reaching another for Christ. Our Heavenly Father working through and using our imperfections in personality may just be what breaks down the wall of resistance in someone's heart, encourages them in their walk with God or inspires them to live more fully without hiding behind a mask of someone they are not.

Double Daffodil

So maybe instead of constantly viewing our personality weaknesses in a negative light, perhaps we can see them as gifts. Gifts which God Himself chose for each of us.

And you know what else? No two flowers are exactly alike. Just like no two of us are the same. But together, we create a beautiful garden. His.

Flawless

I can be really self-conscious about my looks. But you know, you probably wouldn’t guess that with a quick glance my way. I can honestly count on one hand (if not one finger) how many times I’ve worn any amount of make-up in the past month. I don’t get manicures or pedicures. I only get my haircut when absolutely necessary because I’m concerned my spikes are blocking the view of people who happen to sit behind me. I tend to spend most of my days in yoga or work out pants paired with a comfy sweatshirt. Yet, how I look from this or that angle will and does cross my mind more frequently than I care to admit.

As a 24-year old, there are definitely certain “standards” of how someone should look and dress and that likely remains true for most ages. In my second and third year of college, I spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to get a coveted six-pack and had some pretty solid abdominal muscles because of it. I also happened to be ridiculously proud of my “runners legs” as I had completed my first half marathon in spring 2013 and planned to run a marathon later that summer.

While not biblical, I’m convinced God has a sense of humor. Thanks to a spinal cord injury, my legs haven’t moved under voluntary control for three years. Those once well-defined and rock-hard calves seem to have taken appearance advice from a wet noodle. When it comes to my completely useless abdominal muscles, I’m grateful for buttoned jeans that at least keep things (meaning my stomach) in the right place.

I think it’s easy to pick out flaws and imperfections when we look at ourselves in the mirror, at least I know it is for me. That’s a new wrinkle. Look at that, first gray hair. If I pull it out, at least I can fake bypass this aging process for a little while. I sure hope I’m not the only person that has ever thought or done that…

When I look at myself, I don’t see perfection. When God looks at me… He does. Thanks to his Son and my Savior, I am perfect. My “flaws,” physical and otherwise melt away into a robe of righteousness that no person, no injury, no health problem, no struggle could ever take away.

It’s not always easy to remember but we all are fearfully and wonderfully made children of an awesome Father. A Father who knows the number of hairs on our heads and loves each and every part of this body HE created.

And really, I have every reason to feel the exact same way.

Imperfect Wedding - Perfect God

Last year my niece and her fiancé planned their outdoor wedding to be as close to perfection as possible. Everything was carefully scripted from the white chairs for the guests to the beautiful arch decorated in flowers to the chamber music. It would be any woman’s dream venue for the special day.

The couple dismissed how weather might be a factor. After all, the average rainfall in Arizona for the month is one inch, and the average temperature is between 54 and 78 degrees. Blue cloudless skies are the expected norm.

The long-anticipated day arrived and promised to be beautiful. The guests were seated while the bride and her father prepared to enter. The green grass and the strewn rose petal carpet created the fairy-tale-like atmosphere.

Dad ushered in the beautiful bride, delivering her to her beloved’s arm. Everyone smiled and breathed a sigh of relief while the service got under way. The pastor began the ceremony.

Being outdoors was a fantastic experience. “Dearly Beloved, we are gathered together before God and these witnesses…” Awww, I thought, what  beautiful picture of Christ and his bride, the church.

The perfect wedding was under way. We settled in for the next forty-five minutes and surveyed the verdant setting, which was quite a sight for many of us who had arrived from below zero Midwest weather the day before.

About a quarter of the way into the service, beyond the platform, however, the puffy white clouds dotting the horizon had turned gray, and then navy. The breeze turned into a cool wind. The air was scented with the unmistakable promise of rain, and the crowd shifted with anticipation as the first speckles of moisture clearly disrupted the bride’s hair, the pastor’s suit, and the smiles on nearly every face.

Soon the few wisely prepared guests had begun to block the view as the umbrellas opened and small groups squeezed under the sparse collection for protection. The sky turned darker, nearly ebony, as angry clouds threatened to ruin the pristine day.

I wiggled closer to my husband to hide under his arm, feeling sorry for my niece and her months of anticipation of this day. Time crawled until the section for the vows approached. As the pastor wiped his dripping face, the bride and groom huddled under the clear plastic covering. They graciously giggled as the rain pushed them closer together.

Just as they got to the “I do’s,” those of us without umbrellas were certain the one-inch state average had been reached. Dresses and shirts soaked and clinging, most everyone attending had a collective thought: the perfect wedding was no longer perfect, marred by the unlikely presence of a steady stream of uncharacteristic rain drops.

And then the Lord intervened.

Over head the promise of God appeared, at first faint, and then bright and clear.

“I do.”

The rain did not stop right away, but the droplets turned into a mist, and the mist subsided. The breathtaking rainbow shouted at us all, the spectrum virtually speaking to this precious couple.

The Lord had made a promise to Noah in the sky. Jesus had made a promise in the sky, too.

“I am with you always, even to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Would the perfect wedding consuming hours of careful decisions now be known as the imperfect wedding?

Not a chance! Even though we all got a bit wet during the ceremony, there was no doubting the author of marriage had spoken a blessing on this couple.

When our perfect God intervenes, he makes up for anything lacking. This wedding day wasn't ruined or imperfect in any way. Rather, God sent his dramatic sign of promise in the sky. The bride was thrilled to have God send his beautiful sign of faithfulness for all to see.

Four times during the vows, the last song and the recessional, the rainbows in the sky ebbed and then blazed brighter and clearer. Isn't it just like our amazing Lord to send rain to the desert in March? His ways are far beyond our ability to comprehend. 

“As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
As the rain and the snow
    come down from heaven,
so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55: 9-11

Thank you, Lord, for your wonderful promises through Jesus, and the reassurance that you are with us always, even in the rain and storms of life. Your presence makes every moment a celebration of this life and the life to come, no matter what happens. Help us to believe that you do all things well. Amen.