I am not perfect. I have flaws, insecurities and fears. I have done things that have caused me shame and embarrassment. These lessons were powerful because they helped me become a better person, but they are forever part of my history. I have experienced failure in it’s most raw and gut-wrenching absoluteness, stripped bare by the fact that I screwed up and it couldn’t be undone. I have had to humble myself and ask for forgiveness, devoid of any pride or ulterior motive. Most often, forgiveness has been granted; but, not always. I have to live with that. I have found it much harder to forgive myself, often holding myself to an impossible standard. I have come face to face with my shortcomings and weaknesses and not looked away. It is not for the faint of heart, believe me. I have faced that woman honestly, with courage and humility, determined to own the mistakes that I have made.
I am not just that woman, though. I have loved selflessly, with everything I have. I have made sacrifices that few will ever know about, but were necessary for the welfare of others. I have met the needs of friends and strangers alike and can honestly say I don’t lord it over them in a vain attempt to elevate myself in their moment of weakness. I have made myself available to others when they are hurting, even when it’s not convenient, beneficial or even understood. I have given money away when I couldn’t afford it and taken the blame when it wasn’t mine to carry. I am that woman, too. The one capable of incredible acts of kindness and unconditional love.
I am hopelessly flawed in remarkable and ordinary ways. The same mouth that whispers prayers to a loving God is the same mouth that curses in traffic. I have preached about the sanctity of life – all life – but will smash a spider or kill a snake without a moment’s hesitation. “That’s different,” some would argue, but is it? I’m not so sure the snake thinks so. I am darkness and light, black and white and shades of gray. My convictions have had the staying power of an etch-a-sketch design; beautifully rendered and then shaken into shambles. It’s not that I don’t stand for anything, my mind is just constantly filtering information, causing me to see the world in new and myriad ways. I know what I know and at times, know nothing. Perhaps, that is the beginning of wisdom after all.
I wish that I were perfect, but that would be an awfully boring story. So, I stand before the world with all my glorious imperfections etched into my life like so many tattoos; part of me, yes, but not making up the whole. I am the only me there is, with this one life to live. I am present and I am doing my best to be my most authentic self, every day of my life. That will have to be enough.