The Incomparable Gift of Imperfect You

Her question interrupted a perfect evening with the face-slap of reality:

imperfect you

“Why do you talk funny?”

The blow nearly knocked me over, right there on the cold pavement of a downtown sidewalk.

I blinked, stunned.

She didn’t mean to offend, of course. She was only four years old. And four-year-old girls are incapable of offense. Simply, she asked a question, based on undeniable, un-disguisable facts. I didn’t speak like her parents or neighbors or friends. I did, indeed, talk funny. And she wanted to know why.

I felt exposed. And I couldn’t give her an answer. Because any honest reply would’ve been too full of pain for an innocent four-year-old girl. She will learn soon enough about life’s injustices. But not today. 

And so I tried to laugh it off, even while my glued-together identity started to give way on cement sidewalk.

“Well, uh … I talk funny because I, uh … I’m unique.”

I forced a chuckle and ruffled her hair. “Unique” packaged my deformity in far prettier paper, even though I didn’t buy it. She seemed satisfied, and soon she resumed walking down the street in the opposite direction, along with her parents. I have no doubt she forgot all about the funny-talking woman on the sidewalk.

But here I am more than a year later, and I can’t help but remember. Her question exposed a harsh reality, one I wasn’t ready to accept:

I’m different. Flawed. And there’s nothing I can do to change it.

This is my daily struggle. And my daily choice. Forced to live the rest of my days in a broken reality, I must choose how I’ll experience it. Either I can spend my life trying to hide. OR I can choose to face it head-on and discover new ground to stand on.

The kind of sidewalk cement that doesn’t give way when the world has its say.

This is easier to write about than it is to live, as you already know. The world is quite skilled at assaulting us with countless messages—overt and covert—about how to measure our worth.

Too often we listen, we buy in. And we frantically try to do what is demanded of us. But in all our efforts toward self-improvement, all our tireless striving for more, I wonder if we’ve forgotten:

You see, Jesus came in poverty so we could be rich.

Jesus endured rejection, so we’d be received.

Jesus experienced loneliness, so we could know love.

Jesus died with absolutely nothing, so we could have everything.

Jesus became broken, less-than, unwanted, and unloved  …

… so we could have wholeness, fullness, purpose, and love.

In a world that taunts and teases with aspirations of glory, Jesus tells us the way to the top isn’t to climb, but to bend low. To concede brokenness. To admit need. To relinquish our efforts in order to receive His. In other words, He already became nothing so we could have everything. We have no need to climb.

So the next time you’re tempted to hide or strive, take a few moments to remember a few beautiful truths about the incomparable gift of the imperfect you:

  • Your Imperfection Adds to our World of Wonder. Every day creation lights up in full color. Sunrises and sunsets. Flowers and birds, mountains and seas. Did you know that the Earth has approximately 950,000 species of insects alone?! Talk about variety. And my children marvel at them very single summer. Why? Because they’re interesting, unusual, one of a kind. And wonder comes as a result of their discovery. Let’s stopping wishing we looked like everyone else, and instead embrace our unique contribution to this glorious world of wonder.
  • Your Imperfection Creates Opportunities For Connection. Think about person you most enjoy spending time with. The one you’d call in a heartbeat if child gets sick, your marriage starts to fail or your house catches on fire. It isn’t the woman who looked perfect in her workout clothes or the man who came home with the biggest paycheck. It’s the friend who knows how to be real, honest, and doesn’t mind rolling up her sleeves to get her hands dirty in your messy life. Stop trying to look like and behave like a magazine spread. Instead, be flesh and blood. Be walking, breathing human who isn’t afraid of a little dirt. Especially her own.
  • Your Imperfection Is the Impetus to Glory. If asked what character qualities we most admire in others, you and I would probably make similar lists: Courage. Strength. Integrity. Faith. Perseverance. Humility. But here’s the reality: Those qualities don’t come by way of ease. You can’t put on humility like mascara or courage like a custom-tailored suit. Instead, it comes from fire and failure, struggle and pain. It takes tension and opposition for faith to grow. Your ongoing struggle? Nothing more than a ripe opportunity for God’s glorious work in you.

It’s been nearly two years since an innocent four-year-old asked me a tough question. There are still days when I’m tempted to shrink from the world, knowing what I lack. Even so, I now know how to answer her question.

Why do you talk funny? she asked.

I talk funny because I’m an imperfect, one-of-a-kind woman loved by a perfect, One and Only God. I’ve been chosen not because of my efforts but because of His.

And, somehow, that’s more than enough.

It’s enough for you, too.

Question: What is ONE WAY you can start to see yourself—broken as you are—as a gift? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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18 thoughts on “The Incomparable Gift of Imperfect You

  1. Tears streaming. I have no words for how beautiful and life giving this is Michele. The way that God has used my brokenness as a gift is through my depression, anxiety and ADD. (quite the ensemble). 😉 When God healed me of my pride and fear (and I finally got over myself), He used these three things more than anything else to bring compassion and understanding to others. The very things I hated and despised and begged to be healed of. I call it being broken open. In a good way, God’s way, of using the broken things in our lives and redeeming them all to be wounded healers for one another. I can’t thank you enough for this post, it is going to stick with me. Thank you for being brave Michele, I know it is not easy. Your courage gives me courage. And thank you for being such a gift to this world. xoxo

  2. “In my distress, You enlarged me”, David wrote in the psalms. He certainly did, Beautiful Lady! There is so much sweetness and courage and perspective and love in your words. Life giving. Life changing. Healing Balm for the soul. Thankyou for the gift of you.
    💜

  3. Michele…this is something I have struggled with since my brain surgery made it hard to talk and eat. I can’t feel it when I get food on my face. This caused me to shy away from restaurant eating for quite awhile, or at least kept me on my toes, wiping at my mouth, checking my “iPhone” mirror (the camera, pointed at me…have you ever thought of that??). Then I had a couple of friends over for lunch one day and one of them watched over me, pointing something out or just wiping it herself. I suddenly realized that she was being blessed by helping me. Then I began to venture out more and discovered that this is the reaction from most of the women I am around, as well as my beloved husband. They want to be needed…even if it’s just to help keep me from embarrassment. By always having to be perfect (and I am far from it…even before), I was never allowed myself to be the one in need. It’s humbling…and points me to Christ. He is made strong in our weakness.

    • Oh, yes. So humbling. And yet it’s the sweetest place to be … on our knees with him. {side note: I always have a phone/mirror close by when I eat because I’m a mess. Food all over my teeth, very little ability to move it around in my mouth, etc. I tell everyone, “If you can handle eating dinner with a toddler, then let’s do it! My attempt at humor. 🙂 }

  4. We are kindred, Michele. I am humbled by your beautiful expression. I struggle with a few “I dunno’s” from my cardiologist and others who have termed me a medical anomaly. I have scars on the outside which are quite visible and I try to hide. I have been asked many times by not just children but adults, “what happened?” Or “what is that?” I laughed it off and told the kids that they were angel kisses.
    But one thing i know after an unexpected experience of flat lining and dying and being pulled up out of this shell or human skin pjs, that our outer beauty matters not and even the way we talk but who we are in him. We are made in his perfect image. Thank you for blessing me this morning. I came over from Lisa Whittle’s blog after reading your blog post. Blessings to you ❤

    • So nice to meet you, Simone. I too have so many scars on my face, neck, arm, leg. I get asked a lot especially in the summer, when short sleeves and shorts make the wounds more obvious. But, like you, I’m learning it matters not at all. More evidence of His grace. Much love to you, friend. <3

  5. Beautiful sharing and an encouraging to all of us. I have arthritis and was trying so hard to unscrew a garden hose so the grandkids could play on a water slide. I said to Emma, “Oh, I can’t get it.” She sweetly said, “I know, your hands are old.”

  6. Michelle, I had oral cancer surgery 20 years ago and I also “talk funny” and don’t look the way I used to or how I would like to look. But, I know that after these 20 years the lesson for me is that I had to be broken to be used. I praise God for using me in whatever form I am! Thank you for sharing your journey!

  7. I remember the first time I accepted my human weakness. Up to that point, I’d been shoving it inside my “ideal me” box every time it had slipped out. Stomaching the idea that anyone would see me as anything other than good, strong and competent was unacceptable. If “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength,” why would I be anything less than ideal – especially when I knew how to pull it off.

    But mercifully, God allowed me to see and feel my loneliness. It’s most definitely lonely to work so hard to be ideal and you pull off the persona so well, because no one can relate to “ideal.” I prayed, “Lord, in your mercy, break me, that I might know you better.”

    Long story, short, He did. And honestly, I felt further away from God but closer to people. Sometimes now I wonder if I was truly that “close” to God when I thought I was? Now I find myself in a place where owning my broken, weak humanity allows me the ability to connect with any other human willing to try, no matter how far from “ideal” they, and I, might be.

    And I find that relying on the love of God looks much different now than it used to. Now, I don’t always feel it, but it’s when I take relational risks in order to love others (with the threat of rejection or being unseen looming) that I’m putting that faith into action and it truly is a belief. I can trust that I am enough – I am loved no matter what – so I can go love others with abandon.

    May I AM be the vessel through which thousands of women gain more confidence than they could imagine – through their brokenness.

  8. I needed to let you know about your new book, I Am…..I read all the time and have read thousands of books in my 65 years, and this book is the most Extraordinary book I have ever read. I will read it again and again and use it as a resource for the rest of my life. I so wish your publisher would print a beautiful hard-bound version with wonderful glossy pages. (Yes, I know – another longing for beauty and perfection – but aren’t big books with glossy pages just gorgeous?!) It is a treasure that will change and enhance the lives of thousands of people. I don’t know if “things happen for a reason”, but if they do, your journey happened to change the lives of so many for generations to come. You are Extraordinary and a Blessing from God and a Blessing to all of us imperfect struggling barely-hanging-on-sometimes humans. Your strength and sheer will not only to go on living but to change the lives of others is just Amazing. I thank God for the gift of you in my life.

  9. I felt I must leave a comment…What I read from you Michele, humbled me. I don’t know what to say… but : I thank you for your encouragement and may God richly bless you.

  10. Well, you did it again….you made me cry. Cry for the lack of compassion I sometimes have for others. Cry for the shallow person I can be on days when I think I’m too fat or too wrinkled or too tired. Thank you Michele for being so real to the world. Your honesty is so refreshing in a world of fake smiles, skinny jeans and botox junkies.
    hugs to you and family,
    Loretta