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January 21, 2021

Our Shortcomings Devastate & Change us—Why we’re More Than our Sins.

“May all your broken pieces, which feel so scattered now, be reassembled into a mosaic of beauty. May your healing reveal the art of who you really are.”~ John Mark Green

~

Picasso isn’t for everyone.

Some of us see a monstrosity; some of us only see an elbow sticking out of an ear.

Some of us see his work as art at its finest.

They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder; extraordinary things can arise from the ashes.

They say all of that. But is all of that truly true?

Pain is beautiful.

No one gets out of this life unscathed. And, generally speaking, no one really enjoys pain. But, pain is inevitable. It reoccurs, wearing many different faces: it can be abuse, trauma, death, loss, divorce, failure, and change, just to name a few of its manifestations.

Now, I’m not talking about having an unhealthy dependency on dysfunction. We should seek to get help in mind, body, and spirit. Therapy, learning healthier coping tactics, and accepting ourselves unconditionally should be employed, but not at the expense of denying how much the pain—whatever pain it was—has affected and shaped us.

Nope, we are not “all better” lickety-split. We are bleeding and scarred, sometimes lifelong—and we can often view that as moral failure, and a defect in our character.

It is not.

It is pain. And pain is difficult, excruciating, and beautiful because we have survived the pain. We got out. We made changes. We simply kept breathing.

Pain often gets associated with ugliness because it assumes the worst-case scenario will be the final word for us.

But there is beauty that arises from the ashes. There is.

Think about how you have blossomed, and, if you are struggling to see that in yourself, please remember the lotus flower—it blooms in the mud. This incredible, delicate, commanding creation blooms in spite of. The flower is not supported by a loving gardener, in a tranquil rose garden. It is not spoken to lovingly by a gardener, affirming it of its inherent beauty and worth. Its beauty is nonnegotiable and flourishes in muddiness, in dirtiness, in filth.

How many of us have grown in the mud?

How many of us have felt nothing but dirty our entire lives?

You’re not filth; you’re a lotus flower.

And your pain can be transmuted into healing, first for yourself, then for others who believe they are alone in their suffering.

There is a reason you painfully bloomed. There is a reason.

Mistakes (sins) are beautiful.

This one makes us all squirmy, doesn’t it? Especially for us “people of faith” out there. We are shamed for our sins and imperfections, repeatedly told how we are nothing but wrong, hopeless, and unacceptable.

Love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace seem to be in short supply—sometimes, nonexistent.

I suppose sin is ugly for the pain and the harm it inflicts. And—whether or not you and I view sin and mistake as one and the same—there seems to be such emphasis on the sin or the mistake as being an inevitable, irrevocable, punishing death sentence.

We absorb lies that tell us we are forever bad, forever ruined, forever wrong, and forever shamed.

We are human beings. We make mistakes. We sin. And while we’re doing all that, we still have value. We do not need to forfeit love and redemption, because we’ve gone too far.

No one avoids doing things that are wrong, pathetic, shame-inducing, of poor judgment; no one avoids doing things that are hurtful to others.

Just because we have wound up there—in the place of whatever debauchery or evil we think is just too damning to recover from—doesn’t mean we will stay there our entire lives.

All things are subject to change—that includes you and me. Our shortcomings have devastated and changed us; but we are more than any one mistake or sin.

We are the whole mosaic, not just a colorful piece that appears to look awful.

There is more. We are more.

Growth is beautiful.

Anyone who has ever tried to grow out their hair knows all about the struggle of the awkward stages. Whether we grow out the entire mophead we have or simply intend to rid ourselves of our fringy bangs so we can see our naked foreheads again, these awkward growth stages can appear ugly to us.

We grapple with a no-man’s-land of being neither here nor there. We don’t quite have short hair; we don’t quite have long hair. Gone are the obvious tidy bangs; but they don’t steer clear of our foreheads completely, often flapping annoyingly against our faces, like the wings of a rabid bat. And don’t get me started on trying to wear a ponytail.

Growth is beautiful; but there is a major difference between that assertion and the feelings that are attached to the process— it often feels ugly, painful, difficult. We can often associate beauty with ease; we believe that if something isn’t easy, it is not beautiful.

We can view the struggle as negating. Beauty is not solely about joy, giddiness, and effortlessness. We do ourselves a disservice if we believe that premise.

If we see struggle, hard work, and tenacity instead as the true beauty, regardless of what it looks like, we can take stock in how far we have come, even if it doesn’t look like a beautiful, promised land destination.

We are getting there, nonetheless.

The getting there—not the arrival—is the thing of beauty.

And, since we are not finished human beings, we are constantly beautiful. That is the ongoing mosaic.

(With or without bangs.)

Acceptance is beautiful.

I am five-foot, four-inches tall. I will not get any taller. There are no more growth spurts in my future (believe me, I checked).

With time and age, I will only shrink,

Sigh.

I once had a dream in which I kept standing on chairs and some judgey-chair-type panel of experts kept telling me, “Nope, still not tall enough.”

Not enough.

We are driven by those two words, aren’t we?

And when we are not, we seem to be harangued by the word’s evil twin: “too much.”

No matter which voice is coming at us, it pummels us with how we need to reject, not accept, ourselves.

We do it in big and small ways. We do it, perhaps, because we want beauty in our lives. We want to possess it, control it, activate it, and believe it will always be there. We don’t want to be abandoned by it.

We seem to attach so much power to the enough-ness of beauty. It represents perfection, doesn’t it? And, often, this elusive beauty guarantees that we will finally be worth accepting.

Unless and until, however, that happens, we are obligated to reject ourselves.

After all, how dare we believe we are enough when we look at our lives and only see the ugliness of shortcomings, failures, and what we deem to be personal ugliness?

What is screaming or whispering to you that you need to reject yourself?

What is preventing you from accepting yourself right now?

A body size? A skin color? A physical characteristic? An income? A relationship status? An achievement? A fear?

I will not be a tall woman. I will not be statuesque, unless, of course, it’s a short statue.

Over the course of my life, thus far, I have learned it’s not important in the grand scheme of things. I have almost lost my life a few times to bring that point home: eating disorders and breast cancer were some attention-getting lessons that taught me I needed to appreciate my “vertically challenged,” breastless, imperfect, vulnerable, sometimes irritating, and frustrating self, while I still have the breath to do it.

And I still have the breath to do it.

So, I am tall enough. I am enough, even when I struggle with the too much/not enough voices that tell me otherwise.

I accept all the flaws. I’m still breathing. That’s powerful, because many people are not.

I’m still here, and if I’m too short to reach something, I’ll stand on a chair.

Putting the Puzzle Together: Mosaic; Masterpiece; Me:

How about you?

Want to accept yourself, as is, right now?

Want to embrace your mosaic? The flaws, the “too much/not enough” of your experience, and the learning of your enough-ness, however long it takes to learn, are all beautiful artistic mosaics, as a most important creation.

“May all your broken pieces, which feel so scattered now, be reassembled into a mosaic of beauty. May your healing reveal the art of who you really are.” ~ John Mark Green

Thank you, Mr. Green. I pray your words, for all of us.

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