EmBracing Your Imperfections

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Here’s EmBracing Your Imperfections

I just got braces.

I’d resisted for a while, but with jaw pain that’s projected to get worse, I finally gave in.

For the past few days, I’ve spent more time than I care to admit smiling in the mirror, trying to look happy without showing my teeth. And I’ve practiced speaking, hoping to enunciate and be expressive while keeping my mouth half closed. If anyone has any helpful suggestions, I’m open to them!

Yet as you can see from the photo, I’ve decided to embrace my braces. At least for today. This hiding, trying to mask what is, is both draining and damaging. It feels all too familiar. I’ve been doing it all my life.

As a child, I tried to hide my limp. I wanted to walk as straight as I could so people wouldn’t see my disability. Of course, that was impossible because my limp is distinctive and pronounced, but I tried anyway. I was ashamed of my limp. I needed to look normal. I wanted to fit in.

FDR, an American president who had polio as I did, often tried to hide his disability as well. Reporters and photographers were forbidden from picturing him walking or maneuvering in his self-designed wheelchair, made from a dining room chair base that disguised it. In public appearances, he pretended to walk so people wouldn’t think of him as disabled. He didn’t want to look weak.

He thought showing physical weakness would diminish his effectiveness as president. And yet nothing could be further from the truth. Most people agree that FDR’s physical struggles inspired them – it made them think more of him, not less. While his disability drew others to him, I understand his desire to camouflage it.  We all have limitations and imperfections we try to hide.

Years ago, I wrote about how ashamed I was of my physical scars, the evidence of two dozen surgeries, which cover my body. They were jagged reminders of how imperfect my body was. Though my high school friend Maggie said my scars spoke of courage, I didn’t want people to see them. As an adult, I realize that I’m drawn to people who are unafraid to show their scars, who dare to be authentic and unmasked, who embrace their limitations. Seeing others display their scars has inspired me to do the same.

While vulnerability and honesty inspire me, I care a lot about what others think of me. I even want to look better than I really am. I’m not alone in that desire as we are obsessed as a culture with managing our appearance. We wear makeup to cover our blemishes. We buy shapewear to hide our bulges. We use filters to look perfect in pictures. It’s all designed to make people think that we are more attractive and put together than we really are.

I have struggled with wanting to look like I have it all together for decades. In addition to trying to hide my limp and my scars, I hide my emotions, even from myself. I pretended I wasn’t angry when my ex-husband left, but repressing that anger rippled through my life and my daughters’ lives. My identity was tied to the façade of having it all together. In retrospect, many of my choices, my actions, and my words were part of the image I wanted to project, which eventually became who I thought I was. I subconsciously figured out how I “should” feel and then talked myself into feeling it. I didn’t even know who the real me was – it was buried under a mountain of expectations.

The Lord keeps reminding me that I can’t live my life for the approval of others. I need to risk, to be real, to trust God and admit my failures and imperfections. The Pharisees were focused on the externals- they did everything to be seen and applauded by others because they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

God wants our honesty, an unvarnished life, not one that is carefully curated for others.

Which is why I am posting this photo. But in the interest of full disclosure, I postponed my original braces appointment because a photographer was coming to my house for an article, and I was determined to have a braces-free photo. And I cleaned my office for hours, so it was spotless when he arrived since we planned on taking the picture there.

I wasn’t interested in anyone seeing the real me – I wanted them to see the immaculate-office, put-together, non-braces me. So as you can see, I haven’t arrived yet. I’m working on it. I’ll let you know how it goes.

What do you try to hide from others that you need to embrace about yourself? Where is the Lord inviting you to let go of other’s expectations and fear of their judgment, and listen only to him?

 

source : https://www.vaneetha.com/journal/embracing-your-imperfections

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