Thank you for being imperfect. Does that sound strange? Let me explain…
One morning at breakfast I announced to my husband that I’d be doing something hard that day. “What is it?” he asked, thinking he’d perhaps forgotten a doctor’s appointment or book interview. “Hanging out with people,” I replied.
After being in a pandemic so long, my social skills feel like weak muscles and I have to give myself reminders like, “Remember to smile. Ask people questions about themselves. Tell someone you like her shirt.” It makes me think of years ago, in my early twenties, when I went to the library and checked out every book on making people like you.
True confession: Last March when most of us had to stay home because of COVID-19, at first I relished the silence of my home office and lack of social obligations on my calendar. I didn’t have to worry that everyone was hanging out without me because no one was hanging out with anyone. But over time I started missing people with a depth I hadn’t anticipated as an introvert.
So when restrictions finally started lifting, I joined a small group study through a local church. We followed the guidelines carefully, meeting on an outdoor patio and staying a few feet apart. We spent most of our time discussing a book, which was comfortable territory for me. But this week the leader invited us to just “hang out” and I felt nervous.
I arrived at the same time as a neighbor who walks to the study each week. We felt surprised to find the door locked (we’d been told to let ourselves in). It turned out our lovely, much-loved leader told herself that surely no one would want to just come hang out with her, so she was a few minutes away at the grocery store. Her daughter let us in to a house with laundry scattered across surfaces, dishes in the sink, normal life happening.
When our leader came home she was still in her pajamas, no make-up, and she kept apologizing. At one point her enthusiastic dog leaped across all of our laps like a rabbit and stole a coffee cup. It was chaotic and messy . . . and just what I needed.
I realized I’d been craving the imperfection of in-person relationships. That’s what you can’t find online in the perfect pictures and touched-up selfies. I wasn’t lonely for a space where everything was in place or for people who had it all together. I was lonely for imperfection and reality, for the quirks and crazy dog, for the dishes in the sink.
I sometimes think I want a carefully curated life. Isn’t that what the world tells us we need? Hide the messes, put on your make-up, clean your counters. As we start coming out of this season of pulling back because of the pandemic, let’s also give ourselves permission to leave behind unrealistic expectations that make us feel alone and confined.
I’m so glad Jesus said, “Love each other” (John 15:17), not “Impress each other.” He came not to a throne but to a messy manger, not to a palace but to walk dusty streets with ordinary people, not to a spotless corner office but a cross. And because He did, we can have real relationships with each other. We can show up as we are and choose empathy over image, authenticity over accomplishments, grace over trying so hard to look good all the time. Whew.
The first step? Simply pausing and asking God, “How do you want me to let someone into my life today?”
So many times I think what I want is “perfection” but these last few months have made me realize, even as an introvert, that what I really long for is people. Humans who say the wrong thing, act awkward, run late, track mud into the house, and sometimes stretch my social skills. I don’t want the empty, perfect house. I want to hang out.
If someone comes to my house expecting perfection, then don’t come inside. If they want to be welcomed with open arms, an open heart, and a place to feel loved, then come in, kick off your shoes, and curl up on my couch.
Kathy Francescon says
I will be right over!!
Bless you!! I need all you are offering! You just made me smile! And thats almost like a real visit!
D Marie says
O gosh, I love Holly Gerth, she’s so much like me. The Lord put me through a very difficult challenging life altering circumstance, even more challenging as an introvert. I have been journaling most of it all, I pray to be able to share my testimony some day soon so all can see his faithfulness of His, Love, Peace and Comfort even in our most challenging difficult journeys.
Bev Rihtarchik says
What an excellent and truly challenging question to ask myself each day — “How do you want me to let someone into my life today?” Like you, I welcomed the opportunity to not have to put myself out there each and every day. But that’s not how God calls us to live and isolation can make us prey for the enemy. I’ve been saving a bundle on makeup since the pandemic began. I mean, why make up your face only to cover it up? It’s been freeing to go “sans goop” on my face and enjoy the imperfectness of others doing the same thing. This may be a habit that stays. Now more than ever we need to be real with each other. The days are evil and we all need a comfortable, safe, imperfect place to land.
Oh how I loved this! Thank you, Holley.
THANKS I needed this !!!
connie ker says
Who of us can say that “We are perfect”? I have become an introvert this past year too, living alone with family distances away. Now I know how to spend my time, but we weren’t made to live in solitary isolation. So this Easter Sunday 2021, I have reserved 3 seats to attend my church service in person. That’s a good start to socialization once again in worship fellowship. I haven’t missed a Sunday of worship but it has been virtual for over a year. Thankful for the vaccines to help all of us feel safer in gatherings. Have a Blessed Easter Day and remember what God has done for us.
karyn j says
i love this! perfection is something i’ve struggled with for a long time and it’s exhausting. i’ve realized that it’s an unrealistic expectation where i will always fall short. (and in this process God has revealed to me that no one else is either…who knew) i’m learning me, am learning that i am NOT great at everything (shock, gasp, awe!), i tend to put my foot in my mouth more than i would like (zoiks!), and am learning that being a mess is okay sometimes and can be a blessing to other people. i’ve not conquered my perfection issues, but at least i recognize them and can work on addressing them. so, like you, i would like to say, thank you for being imperfect!
Becky Keife says
Holley! This was so good. Thanks for always showing up real and encouraging us to do the same.
This was so encouraging, thank-you for sharing with us this morning.
Blessings to all,
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Some times it’s good to know we can just be ourselves. We don’t need to have the house looking tidy when someone or some people or coming to visit. It’s sometimes better if someone phone up and ask can I call have not seen you in a while. Especially when allowed if rules of the Pandemic allow you visit your friend. Your friend then might say or try to put of if the house is untidy. But if true friends. Your friend will say the house not that tidy. But come on anyway. Take me as I am. As it will be so lovely to see you again. As not seen you in such a long time with lockdown rules. They your friend will love you mess and all. They will see beyond that. Just like the same way Jesus see beyond our imperfect lives. The messes before we came to him. He didn’t mind. He just loved us he looked beyond them. Jesus still looks beyond our imperfect lives today. As none of us our perfect and never will be. We will as followers of Jesus still make mistakes. No matter how long we are Followers of his. But he still forgives us. Does not look at the wrong we have done. He say I forgive you. Look beyond that mess. So if our friend loves us we love our friend in Jesus we will not care about the way their home looks are they look. We just be so glad to see them since the lockdown. Have that cup of coffee or tea with them and that chat. Jesus will be smiling down at you both for still loving either and not caring about the mess. As Jesus loves us. Does not care what our homes look like. It is our hearts he cares about the way we live for him each day. The way Jesus wants us to live for him is to love everyone. Even with their imperfect lives. Remembering we ourselves are not perfect we to have our imperfections too. But we are all Loved by Jesus that is so good to know. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx
Janet Williams says
Thank you Holley. I loved all of this…especially the crazy dog, being late AND in PJ’s to boot. She sounds awesome!
This scripture I will carry with me all day:
I’m so glad Jesus said, “Love each other” (John 15:17), not “Impress each other.”
Messy blessings sisters \0/
Kathy Francescon says
All of your comments have touched my heart today!! Just made me smile knowing that im not the only one in the world, who is just trying to cope with the isolation of this past year, to finally tip toe quietly out the door and actually start my car! Butterflies in my belly, bite on my bottom lip, deep breath, look up and whisper a prayer…here i come! Thank You God!
Jennifer Haynie says
Holley, oh, do I so agree with you on this blog post! It’s so refreshing, and if you were in NC, I’d invite you to come to my house and meet my very rambunctious Basenjis who like to make themselves right at home with any guest humans. I’ve faced this same struggle as we come out of the pandemic. When to invite people over. Do I do that? Even though I’m an introvert, I miss seeing people in person. Matter of fact, I was so excited about a couple of in-person meetings at work in April that I got all gushy with my coworkers who set them up. I’m right there with you as well regarding curated images. I hope we can all see that it’s okay for people to see our somewhat messy lives. It’s authenticity at its core, and it’s what people crave. Can’t wait to read your book. It’s in my TBR pile coming closer to the top. 🙂
Hi! I’m one of those people who desperately wished I could stay home during the pandemic but had to go out and work. Pushed my already high anxiety over the edge.
Now I’m trying to pick up and go on from not only that, but also the past and a VERY distorted view of a less than perfect self who was never expected (by God) to be perfect in the first place simply because He knows I can’t.
Julie Smith says
I was raised to believe everything should be perfect all the time. When my mother would come over she’d always find the one thing I hadn’t done. No matter how hard I’d try, it was never good enough. Now I don’t feel that pressure anymore. Dishes may be in the sink or counter. I don’t want perfection. I want comfortably neat.
Holley Gerth says
Thanks so much for joining me here! I’m so glad we can be imperfect and perfectly loved together. 🙂
Nancy Ruegg says
“Love each other–not impress each other.” Wise words to remember as we start reconnecting again. It’s a fresh start in many ways. We can move forward with the intent to make socialization about encouraging and uplifting others. Thank you, Holley!
…thanks!!! …just what I needed!!!
Beth Williams says
Like you I was excited about the lock down at first. No rushing 10 miles to church & dealing with traffic. Just stay at home & relax. That was fine for a few weeks. Then I missed my tribe. Longed to be around other imperfect people & do life.
I think deep down we all crave imperfection. Simply because we are imperfect. After reading Lisa Jo Baker’s book The Middle Matters I started going to town without make up. I quit “dressing up” just to run errands. I’m not in a beauty pageant. When you talk with me you’re gonna get the real me no hiding behind “masks” so to speak. If I come to your house I don’t expect to see a Martha Stewart style clean home. Just neat & tidy. You won’t hear me complain one bit. I’m there for the company.
Bravo! This mirrors my feelings so exact I could have written it myself. Thank you!
Thanks so much for sharing your story! It makes me feel a little more normal.
Barbara Harrison says
Marie Antoinette Ugo says
Wow!!! This is not what I expected,but it is exactly what I needed.Sometimes I can be such a perfectionist and I hate that part of me.Futhermore it’s draining.Thank you for being so honest and so transparent.Our culture encourages us to cover up our messiness but our Father God whispers “it’s okay to be messy.”