“Imperfection is in some sort essential to all that we know in life.” ― John Ruskin
Life is not perfect. We discover this truth early in life. And the longer we live, the more we see it to be true. In fact, the imperfections surround us in nearly every direction:
The world we live on is far from perfect. Famine, disasters, and calamity impact both the lives of those we know and the lives of those we’ve never met. Our world produces beauty, but it also produces great pain.
The people around us are far from perfect. Greed and selfishness prevail in every society. Prejudice and misconception harm relationships. While hatred and contempt have resulted in terrible consequences from the very beginning of time.
And unfortunately, we are far from perfect as well. We often get tripped up by temptation and addiction. We war within ourselves to do what is right. And we know, deep-down, there are far too many unhealthy tendencies that motivate our actions and decisions.
Life is not perfect. It never has been and it never will be. But this can be good news. It means we can stop pursuing the mystical, perfect life. It means we can stop chasing perfect skin, the perfect job, the perfect house, or the perfect spouse. It means we can find freedom to live within our imperfections.
In fact, the sooner we realize that perfection is not available to us in this world, the sooner we can begin living better lives because of the imperfections. Consider what the ongoing presence of our imperfection means. It means…
We can finally stop chasing happiness in perfection. Happiness is not something to be attained when everything around is perfect—it can’t be. Instead, it means we can find contentment and happiness and joy even in the midst of defect. And when we begin to realize happiness is fully available to us today regardless of our circumstance, the better our chances become of finding it.
We can relate to one another in our weakness. Once we fully understand that all people are imperfect by nature, we can stop pretending that we have it all together. I am imperfect and you are imperfect. So let’s stop pretending that we aren’t. Instead, let’s begin living authentic, vulnerable lives with another. For it is in our weakness that we find our greatest commonality and community.
We can fully admit that we need help. Because of our imperfections, we all have blind spots–tendencies that continually trip us up often without notice. These weaknesses and deficiencies are often seen by others—others who can help us overcome them. But not until we replace our pride with humility and seek the help of others.
We can learn to grow through our imperfection. We make imperfection our servant by learning from it. We all live with past regret. And our past will always define our past, but it does not need to define our present. When we begin to accept and recognize our weaknesses, we put ourselves in position to begin learning from them.
We can faithfully work to make things better. This world is imperfect. And as long as it is inhabited by imperfect humans, it will continue to be. This realization ought to spur us on to help make this world better. Not only because the world needs our service, but also because we do.
We can better appreciate the good we see around us. The mountaintops are high because the valleys are low. Without sorrow there is no joy. Imperfection brings beauty to the good. And because we know life is imperfect at best, we can find even greater joy in the little moments of triumph.
Life is not perfect, but it does go on. And when we learn to fully embrace both its beauty and its weakness, we create the opportunity to live victorious in both.