‘I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well’
(Psalm 139:14, NIV)
A few years ago, I was on a busy train to London. All the seats were taken and people had to stand throughout the carriage, swaying rhythmically as the train moved along the track.
It was warm and stuffy – the only air being the recycled breath of my fellow passengers. Having got on the train when it was empty, I was blessed with a table seat, and had my head down, reading a book. Occasionally I’d glance up and notice just how far people went to avoid eye contact with anyone else.
‘Made in My image’
It was at one of those stops between stations that I felt God nudge me. As I looked around at the tired and frustrated travellers, I heard the whisper, ‘Made in My image’.
I broke the unspoken rule of train travel and looked at the faces of everyone in the carriage. The whisper repeated with every face, ‘Made in My image, made in My image’.
As my eyes moved around the train, something in my heart was ignited. With tears running down my face, I saw afresh the heart of God for humanity.
These were His children, His kids. He longed for connection with each one, flaws and all.
I can honestly say that train journey was a life-changing moment for me. I was halfway through a six-year journey to become an ordained minister and so much of my time had been spent studying and serving the Church. As a result, I had become — unintentionally — quite disconnected with life outside the ‘Christian bubble’ in which we can so easily find ourselves.
As I reflected on how to connect with people, I began thinking about what it means to be human. God created us to think beyond ourselves — to live courageously, generously and compassionately. Made in His image, we each have the opportunity to reflect an essence of Him into the world, that perhaps no one else will ever carry. How fabulous is that!
Yet, as humans, we have this flawed nature that can make it all about us. We can become overwhelmed by fear, act selfishly and become blind to the struggles of others. It’s like we are both flawed and fabulous at the same time.
As followers of Jesus, we are not immune to our humanity. Although we have experienced the miracle of salvation, our journey of sanctification is just that — a journey. It’s easy to put on a ‘front’, especially within church circles, but when we admit that we’re both flawed and fabulous, we can find new ways to connect with others, and begin to recognise our shared humanity.
We often view life through the subconscious lens of perfectionism, flooding us with unattainable expectations, leaving us to believe that we are never quite good enough.
American lecturer, author and research professor Brené Brown suggests that, ‘We get sucked into perfection for one very simple reason: We believe perfection will protect us. Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfect, look perfect, and act perfect, we can minimise or avoid the pain of blame, judgment, and shame’.
This perception is both exhausting and alienating.
Yet, as we start to acknowledge that we are indeed all flawed, we realise that God loves us and uses us to represent Him here on earth anyway and has done so throughout history.
The Bible is in fact full of stories of flawed men and women who God worked in, and through, for His glory. And He does so because He thinks we’re fabulous.
Now I know that some of you might find it hard to regard yourselves as fabulous, so I wanted to help you. The Cambridge dictionary defines the word ‘fabulous’ as meaning very good or excellent. Indeed, in Genesis 1:31, on the sixth day God looked at everything He’d made and saw that it was ‘very good’.
When God looks at us, He isn’t blind to our flaws, but they are not His focus. He sees His creation as ‘very good’ — or ‘fabulous’.
I love The Message version of this verse, which reads, ‘God looked over everything He had made; it was so good, so very good!’ Perhaps we need to remind ourselves of this.
Even King David, an incredible man of God who had very real flaws, needed to reassure himself that God doesn’t make mistakes, and knows us intimately (Psalm 139:14).
The more we embrace the reality of being flawed and fabulous, the more we can be kinder to ourselves, open up to the possibilities God has for us, and be less judgmental of those around us.
Writer Courtney A Walsh, author of the book Dear Human, wrote,
‘Dear Human: You’ve got it all wrong. You didn’t come here to master unconditional love. This is where you came from and where you’ll return.
‘You came here to learn personal love. Universal love. Messy love. Sweaty love. Crazy love. Broken love. Whole love. Infused with divinity. Lived through the grace of stumbling. Demonstrated through the beauty of… messing up. Often. ‘You didn’t come here to be perfect, you already are.
You came here to be gorgeously human. Flawed and fabulous. And rising again into remembering. But unconditional love? Stop telling that story.
‘Love, in truth, doesn’t need any other adjectives. It doesn’t require modifiers. It doesn’t require the condition of perfection. It only asks you to show up. And do your best. That you stay present and feel fully. That you shine and fly and laugh and cry and hurt and heal and fall and get back up and play and work and live and die as YOU. It’s enough. It’s plenty.’
Why not prayerfully read through this again and again, inviting the Holy Spirit to speak to you as you do? May you discover how flawed and fabulous you really are.