A Spirituality of Imperfection


On the Family Camp-Out, our theme was "A Spirituality of Imperfection", an idea that I borrowed from the title of a biography of Henri Nouwen.  In contrast to our "I'll accept you if you perform for me" culture, we dove into the idea that authentic spirituality travels the narrow path of brokenness where God meets us in the messy reality of our lives.  By embracing a spirituality of imperfection, we begin to meet the God of limitless grace and find the rock-solid love of Christ sustaining us in our woundness, struggles, and brokenness. 

Spirituality is not about perfection; it is about connection. The way of the spiritual life begins where we are now in the mess of our lives. Accepting the reality of our broken, flawed lives is the beginning of spirituality not because the spiritual life will remove our flaws but because we let go of seeking perfection and, instead, seek God, the one who is present in the tangledness of our lives.” (Mike Yaconelli)

RESTLESS SEEKER:  A spirituality of imperfection always embraces our identity as a "restless seeker". 

“Living as resident aliens in a strange land, citizens of a secret kingdom, what other kind of peace should we expect? In this world, restlessness, and not contentment is a sign of health.” (Philip Yancey)

In a spirituality of imperfection, we embrace restlessness as a way to drive us to prayer.  If I am overly content, odds are that I will have a tough time praying.   A spirituality of imperfection embraces the restless nature of our souls.  Perfect contentment only awaits our arrival in glory; restlessness is part and parcel of our everyday Christian life. 

FAITHFUL STRUGGLER:  A spirituality of imperfection also recognizes that authentic Christian spirituality is not primarily about self-help or solely about "getting rid of my flaws", but about being faithful in the up and down existence of the Christian life.  Perhaps the Christian life is as much about "getting up after sin" as "sin avoidance".  

“The great secret in life is that suffering, which often seems to be so unbearable can become…a source of new life and new hope.” (Henri Nouwen)

As Nouwen observes, "We...like easy victories: growth without crisis, healing without pains, the resurrection without the cross.”

A spirituality of imperfection recognizes that growth and maturity often come via the avenue of our restlessness and struggle.  As Christians, we want to be "seekers" in the midst of our restlessness and "faithful" in the midst of our struggles. 

Jason Carter