Research Professor Brené Brown says this about imperfection: “Imperfections are not inadequacies; they are reminders that we’re all in this together.”
One of the meanings of the word perfect is “absolute and unequivocal.” I think most of us have given up the futile attempt to try to be perfect. I hope so, anyway. It seems to do little good to try to be perfect. And there’s a certain arrogance built into it anyway—trying to be perfect assumes that you know what perfect would be. So here is what I believe we can do: We can release ourselves to what is perfect. We can give ourselves to what is perfect. And in giving ourselves to what is perfect and celebrating that and expressing it, we can bring what is perfect into this world.
The word perfect refers to something that is present in essence, though perhaps not yet manifest. It is also something that can come around right in the manifest world. In the process of Creation, things can come around to a point of completeness and perfection—usually only for a moment. In that moment, you can touch perfection. As soon as you do, things start to change, to be re-created into some other perfection to come to pass at some point in the future. That means that the perfection that we know is available constantly in the Invisible and only fleetingly in our lives as we live them, manifest in form.
Another way to say this is that everything around us is in process. We are in process as human beings. So is everyone else. As if you didn’t notice that! The art of living is about being in relationship to what is perfect, and then bringing it into the imperfection of life. It is bringing the perfection that’s available within us and giving it expression into all that’s in process, in a way that moves the process along and allows things to come around right into some kind of fleeting perfection.
I wrote to somebody just this morning. I could have written this same thing, in essence, to almost anybody I know, and I certainly could have written it to myself. So I trust that no one takes this too personally.
I say that the way to personal mastery is to embrace the process in one’s own creative field, and everything in that field, just as it is. Then assist your field to fulfill its destiny; to fulfill its greatest potential.
It seems to me that most everything you speak of is part of your gift to your world. That gift turns sour if it becomes a criticism of what others are, or are not, doing. It becomes sweet for you and for your field when you give it freely and without demand—as an open invitation to others. At the same time, there may be other gifts you have to give that you are not thinking about right now.
I do believe that what I just said to this friend of mine would represent a turnaround for most people. All too often we can be so involved in the imperfections of the process of life—and, most of all, the imperfection of other people—that we fail to give our gift. We fail to bring perfection into the process. We are looking for perfection in the process when it isn’t there. We are looking for it in other people and it isn’t there. In all that, what gets missed? The perfection of the potential within us that we have to bring. All of what we were looking for is pregnant in the invisible realm of possibility. It is the potentiality for our expression, waiting for us to bring it out.
Here is what the master spiritual teacher, Jesus, said that related to these things:
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
We, of ourselves, are not that perfect, but there’s something within us that is. Give that expression. The Father within us is the potential within us, the Spirit that’s within us. That’s perfect. Give expression to that. We become perfect when we do that. You can see it in another person—when they are expressing the Father within them, the potentiality that’s within them, you are looking at perfection. You could quibble with the form of how it comes out. But you can’t quibble with the perfection.
Jesus also brought deep insight into how we deal with the imperfection around us. His teaching was not to judge it.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.
Our judgment of the imperfection in the world around us is like a boomerang. We think we are doing it to somebody else, but it’s happening to us internally. Unwittingly, we are judging ourselves when we are judging another person.
Jesus also said this:
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
We really do experience forgiveness of our own imperfection when we forgive the imperfection of others. The involvement with imperfection around us makes us involved with the imperfection in ourselves in this unholy and ghastly and self-judging, self-shaming way. We do it to ourselves when we think we are doing it to someone else.
Jesus’ simple instruction was that when we are forgiving other people we set ourselves free. That will save you a lot of workshops, won’t it? Or a lot of good books on self-improvement, if it really is that simple. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. It doesn’t take a lot of prayer, a lot of repentance, going to church, meditation, yoga, or five more incarnations. Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. The fact that we are in process is forgiven by us when we forgive other people for being in process. When we forgive their imperfection. Try it!
In doing that, you are setting free the perfection that’s within you that could be a blessing to the imperfection in others. It’s not that you become weak and puny, and naïve about imperfection, because wisdom isn’t just seeing the imperfection. Any fool can see the imperfection of other people. We speak of that imperfection as if we are very learned. Seeing only the imperfection of other people is the booby prize. Seeing their perfection is wisdom.
Certainly, a wise person can see the imperfection of other people. They can see the incompleteness of what’s happening in the world at large. You don’t have to be a genius to know that there are all kinds of terrible threats to humanity at work in our world. Should I name them? But what unleashes perfection in the middle of all that? What takes the process of what’s happening for another person, or for the world, and moves it along to someplace good?
For the world at large, I think we are in for a lot of imperfection before it comes around to be perfect and good. Of course, that’s one of the falsities of the usual human approach. We want things to be perfect, and we try to make them perfect. But in many cases, they have to become more imperfect before they can be perfect. And we are preventing them from becoming perfect because we’re trying to make them perfect now. That certainly happens with people. Sometimes people need to crash and burn before they can come around to a good place. And we keep trying to make them perfect and prop them up and control them. It’s called enabling. It doesn’t work very well.
The key to facing all the imperfection in our life is to know where perfection lies. We take our life off hold—we stop waiting for the people and circumstances around us to be perfect—when we acknowledge the perfection within us. Truly, perfection is waiting for us, not the other way around. It waits for us to worship it, and we worship the perfection that is within us when we let it out; when we give it expression. When we act on it and share it as our gift to the world. When we do, we realize that the process of Creation itself is perfection. We see the perfection of the imperfection in all that is in process, knowing that in its own season, and in its own way, it is coming around right. It is coming to a point where perfection is made manifest as the creative process reaches a point of ultimate fulfillment.
Your words are a light in the darkness of human consciousness. There IS the perfection this moment; the perfection of divine design and control; the perfection of the opportunity each person has to know their place in that wonderful divine design and thereby FEEL what it’s like to live a fulfilling and happy life. And then there’s everything in process – EVERYTHING! It’s so simple and hidden in plain sight. How obvious this is as we talk to our daughter with her 4 month old son – the momentary perfection alongside the process of a baby growing with all the “ups and downs” that this involves.
I had a distressed call from a person last week who was dealing with this very matter. She wrote later – “Thank you so much for yesterday, even when you were chatting with me i could feel relief. I have never felt more confused and there has been a blank empty feeling in my heart which i have never felt, and after feeling so euphoric and like I finally “get what it’s all about” ! To feel the downness and absolute confusion and frustration was doing my head in.
But after your chat it makes sense and now I’m feeling relieved that it’s just part of the process! I will surrender and trust the process and know that I have a cheer squad at Riverdell”
The perfection of what appears imperfection. How important it is to know this.
As with the myth of the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow so is perfection in the human mind – ultimately unattainable. That life, and all in the cosmic whole, is a work in progress from beginning to end is the reality which transforms and transmutes all that is imperfect into greater wholeness and coherence. This is the reality, and not the myth. There is a Scottish saying: “Bairns (children) and fools should not see unfinished work” – because the creative process is often misunderstood as incomplete, or a mess; what would bread be without baking? An assemblage of flour, yeast and water… what a mess! When kneaded and baked, divine.
I just love the work of Brene Brown and believe that she is rising as a significant thought leader globally – and i also so loved your considerations David, of The Perfection of Imperfection – It reminded me of a book i read many years ago now by Morris Berman, entitled The Re-enchantment of the World. I stand with you and others doing exactly that today and in the moments following this one. I also believe that there are many standing today in true innocence brithing a New Earth together. Thank you for this opportunity to arc with you and others in this Body of substantial Love and Wisdom Power.