Imperfectly Lovable

"To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful!"

- Kelly Turcotte Lloyd

I read this quote on my cousin's Facebook page this morning and loved it. I immediately reposted it and knew I would share it on my blog, along with the thoughts it provoked.

If you read my blog even occasionally, then you already know I have much to be thankful for. That does not mean I am without challenges or problems. And I will be the first to tell you how flawed and imperfect I am. I have always been an open book. When I see something in myself, my natural inclination is to confess.

I take self-disclosure to a new level. I'm more guilty of giving too much information than concealing or withholding. And I'll be the first to admit that's not always a good thing. But it's the personality God gave me. Sometimes I say or write something and cringe later, wondering why I couldn't just keep my feelings/thoughts to myself; asking myself if I will ever master this part of my personality. When I say this is the personality God gave me, I don't say it as a cop out for a lack of self-control. I just mean it's what I have been given to work with. And I think I have come a long way from where I started. But I still have plenty to work on. Even when I don't speak, one only has to look at my facial expression to have a clue as to what I'm thinking or feeling. No poker face here.

The flip side of that is that I am not capable of being fake. What you get is the real me. Always. Always. Always. For what that's worth. And when I see that I've been wrong (which is sometimes instantly and sometimes after much reflection), I don't wrestle with the words "I was wrong" or "I'm very sorry." And even when I don't think I did anything wrong, I always wrestle with knowing I have hurt someone or caused pain unintentionally.

For most of my life I have wanted desperately to be loved and accepted. I guess we all want that to some degree. But I wanted it in a needy, co-dependent kind of way. I look back on many years of my life and see glaringly how hard I tried to earn value in other people's lives. And that led to a sense of worthlessness and disposableness when I didn't get the loving, caring response I was hoping for. In some cases, I have been used and exploited by people because I was so determined to win them over and make them like me. And in other cases, I was simply dismissed. Both responses left me feeling, as I've shared many times, like someone who was difficult to love. Of course it was my perception, not necessarily reality. (But there is a saying about that.... Perception IS reality.)

This quote means all the more to me at this stage of my life, I think, because I've shed some of that co-dependence in recent years. I still want to be loved by everyone. But I don't NEED to be loved by everyone. And I accept in my heart, as well as in my mind, that I cannot be loved or liked by everyone. Nobody is. And my distinct flaws and imperfections will be obstacles in some relationships. I will be discarded by people for my flaws. But that no longer makes me feel worthless or disposable or unlovable. And it doesn't rock my world the way it did a few short years ago. My focus today is on those people who really do value, appreciate, and love me just the way I am. When I read the above quote, I felt a deep gratitude for those people instead of thinking about the ones who don't fall into that category.

I would change two words of the quote to apply it specifically to myself. I would swap the word beautiful for lovable. And I would choose heart in place of soul.

"To the people who love you, you are [LOVABLE] already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your [HEART]. Your shortcomings then dim by comparison. The people who care about you are willing to let you be imperfect and beautiful!"

I spent so much of my life trying to get people to see and understand my heart, to really know who I was on the inside. I thought I couldn't survive being misunderstood (especially in certain relationships). But I did survive it. Not only have I survived, I have thrived. I haven't gained the understanding of everyone whose understanding I longed for. But God has blessed me exponentially with other people whose love and understanding I have not had to work for. And through those relationships, He has shown me that the problem hasn't always been me. (Not saying the problem has never been me.)

As another year ends and a new one begins, I am thinking about how blessed and thankful I am.

I'm not thinking about my losses. I'm thinking about how much I've gained through my losses.

I'm thinking about how wonderful it feels to know my true friends do see and know my heart. I know they also see my imperfection, my flaws, my shortcomings. But the people who genuinely care about me make me feel so imperfectly lovable just as I am.

I know I have shared this before, but someone may be reading for the first time and it goes along with the theme of this post. I saw a Christian counselor regularly for four consecutive years. One of the struggles he identified in me right away was my false belief that if I could learn to choose my words perfectly, someone else would not misunderstand, would not be able to twist or misinterpret them, and ultimately that I would not experience rejection. I was very focused on saying things in just the right words (and often my inability to accomplish that). In every conflict, I would determine (in my own mind) that my choice of words must have been where things went wrong. And I would lay the "blame" on my own shoulders. In one specific session, he confronted me very bluntly:

"Shari, why do you believe that you have to say anything perfectly to be worthy of love and understanding? Rarely do human beings say anything in the perfect words. It's an unattainable goal. We are human. We are flawed. Human relationships are messy. But where there is love and mutual respect, it's not that you never make a mess; rather, you just clean up the mess and go on. In healthy relationships where you have value for being rather than doing, you're allowed to mess up."

I have reflected on and repeated those words many times.
That day they were a concept. But today they are my reality.


Brenda said…
This is great Shari. I am copying it to my facebook. Have a good New Years weekend. Lacybee
Shari said…
Happy New Year, Brenda!
Anonymous said…
Very nice posting. This has been fresh on my mind recently. I also struggled with too much focus on being accepted most of my younger life. I believe this stemmed from the fact my father was totally blind for much of my early life and because of this became the center of attention in the family.

After becoming a believer in Jesus Christ I have slowly but surely recognized this as I grew in the knowledge of Christ and became more and more confident in His love and acceptance of me the way He created me.
I have recently found that I still struggle with this to some degree, especially after reading the new book by Pastor Tullian Tchividjian titled "Jesus + Nothing = Everything". Pastor Tullian attempts to get the reader to figure out what they try to replace the "Nothing" in the above equation with. I think my replacement variable in the equation is acknowledgement, which is a lessor degree of acceptance in my opinion. It is like an idol I need to deal with.
With this discovery and now reading this posting, I now some ammunition to pull the trigger on a series of blog postings myself in the near future.
Shari said…
Barry, I will look forward to reading those postings. Hope you will post links on FB. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on my blog. I always enjoy your comments.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for the kind words Shari. Part 1 has been posted.

My blog is configured through Wordpress to post to FB and Twitter auto-magically.