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.


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.

A Thorn in The Flesh

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Several of the writers from Holy Hen House, together with other local women, meet together weekly in each others’ homes for Bible study. Lately, we have been going through Apostle Paul’s letters that he wrote to early Christians. I find Paul to be a pretty fascinating guy and an exceptionally inspiring Christian. Once a Christ HATER, Paul, in his early years called Saul, went so far as to oversee the deaths of early Christians. Then he underwent an incredible conversion during which he was blinded by a vision of God for three days. Following his conversation, Paul became one of the most inspirational Christians of all time, and eventually wrote several letters that became books of the Bible. Pretty incredible.

For those of you who have read Paul’s story, do you ever wonder what his “thorn” was? In 2 Corinthians 12: 7 Paul writes:

“To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

Paul never writes what his “thorn” actually is, although many people have theorized that it was anything from malaria, to epilepsy, to a disease of the eyes. What we do know is that Paul’s thorn was a chronic and debilitating problem, that he had repeatedly asked God to take it away from him, and that God said NO. In fact, God further said that His “power is made perfect in weakness.” He had a plan; Paul’s thorn would show Paul and others God’s power.

I would love to go back in time and see how this actually played out. Crippled by his thorn, Paul could not boast of his own strength. All glory and power went to God instead of to Paul. Without his thorn, Paul may have been tempted to attribute his power to do miracles to his own strength or ability. He may have gathered a following that wanted to worship him instead of God. Or worse, he may have lost all credibility. I can only imagine that Paul’s humility and trust in God despite his thorn inspired people and encouraged them to learn more about the God that Paul worshipped. Paul’s thorn kept him humble and likely moved others to glorify God.

God’s power is still made perfect in our weaknesses today. I think of some of the most inspiring Christians I know and almost all of them have lived through some terrible hardship. Anyone who has a great and easy life can say they love Jesus, but it’s only through hardship that this love is put to the test. Those who endure a “thorn in their flesh” and still proclaim the power and love and glory of Christ are endlessly inspiring to myself and to other Christians. God’s power is made all the more evident through them.

Are you suffering from a thorn in your flesh this morning? Have you asked God to remove a chronic and debilitating problem from you, and he keeps saying NO? It could be God is allowing the thorn to remain in your flesh in order to draw you and others closer to Him. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

Have you seen this play out in your life? I would love to hear your stories!