Friday, February 6, 2009

I beleeve...

This I Beleeve…. I Mean, Believe

I believe in imperfection. I believe in bad hair days, missed appointments, botched opportunities and forgotten deadlines. Without fail (or rather, with fail) every effort I make will, in some way, be ruined, lacking, flawed and defective. My best will never be good enough, and my abilities have limits that will cause eventual heartache and disappointment.

And you know what? It’s OK.

As a precocious child attending private school, I was the “model everything”. I wore the biggest bow and an immaculate uniform, and my penmanship was the envy of the world. Of course the teachers adored me: “Watch how Diondra finishes her homework so quietly,” “Look how Diondra colors inside the lines!” Until one day…

One day, Teacher was absent. The bored substitute passed out a mindless worksheet and pandemonium (literally) rained. Kids ran up and down the room, over chairs and tables, and performed Crayola “firework displays.” I cowered at my desk, wanting only to follow instructions and flawlessly (as usual) complete the dot-to-dot. However, Thomas Annoying-Boy had snatched my entire pencil box to augment the colorful stationary explosions above our heads, and I was tool-less! Alarm bells crashed in my head. I could not finish the assignment, I could not please the teacher—I could not be perfect.

The panic welled up like a bubble in my chest and my pulse quickened. When the anxiety became unendurable, I ran to the front of the classroom to exercise my only option--the one tried-and-true, surefire way to get out of a classroom ASAP.

“Mrs. Teacher!” I all but screamed in my terror, “I am going to THROW UP.”

Of course, the immediately-attentive substitute whisked me from the chaotic classroom to the sanctuary of the nurse’s office and shortly thereafter, home. There, Mom put me to bed—not for an upset stomach, but for mental anguish revealed by tearstained cheeks and swollen eyes.

I could control the mechanics of my world with clockwork precision, but when an unforeseen cog fell into the works and pandemonium ensued, adaption was out of the question. An obsession with perfection damages my confidence in myself to adapt and improvise, halts problem-solving and reasoning, and, perhaps most frighteningly, cripples creativity.

No more. At 17, I stared into my mirror at an older, but no wiser tear-streaked, exhausted face framed by frazzled blond tendrils. I couldn’t be perfect any longer. Too many things demanded my time and energy. Seminary, grades, church, scholarships, family, friends, clubs, activities, applications—I couldn’t control it all, so I resolved, then and there, to stop thinking I had to.

I chose honesty over image. I chose sanity over self-abuse. I chose humility, and I chose to accept the sacrifice of the One whose perfection is enough for me.

My imperfections truly are the most defining and vital part of my character. I can cope with bad hair days, manage missed appointments and forget forgotten deadlines. I refuse to be controlled by my surroundings—I will be happy, perfect or not. I believe in imperfection because in it, we can all be made strong.

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