In the process of learning to walk again, the first uneasy steps are always done in small distances, just like a child learning to walk; it’s those five or six steps between welcoming arms. I remember my daughter taking her first steps and just the wonder of the wobbly, half off balance and yet forward momentum, carried her across the few feet of the floor into my arms. If I were to assess how good her walking was, I would say it was brilliant from a loved perspective, but deeply imperfect from an accomplishment perspective.
The beauty of learning to walk is found in the imperfection of it. The natural desire to walk propels us imperfectly across small distances as we learn. This story and illustration is very much what it is like when we are learning to walk again with God in His garden state. Nobody wants to stumble, nobody wants to fall in learning to walk with God, but if we can actually turn that upside down and celebrate and embrace the stumbling and falling, we would be blessed beyond measure because in the imperfection of it we will always end up in the hands and arms of a loving God who catches us. It is in the imperfection and vulnerability of the learning that we discover how loved we are. It’s not in our achievements – it’s in our desire. God so deeply wants us to learn how to walk with Him in His garden. If the way we have been living has been crawling, the invitation to stand up and take our place alongside God has to begin, and will most likely end, with the embrace of our imperfect attempts at loving others and ourselves as God does.
The struggle of small distances in the early stages of learning to walk invites us into our need for help from God and others. It invites us into our deepest longings, which God wants to meet in us.
There is abundance in what actually is if we can move past our fear of doing things imperfectly. We can discover that there is more than enough in the imperfect relationships that we have, there is more than enough inside of us.
In many ways this is a completely undiscovered perspective. Most of our religious training and Christian conditioning has been about aiming at some form of perfection. The irony though is there is no grace in that training. Grace is only ever found in imperfections, in our inability and our dichotomy of what we want and what we do, and in the beautiful but often feeble attempts to love another.
I think a more helpful perspective in our understanding of what it means to grow spiritually is to see it as an evolution. We are evolving and changing and it is through our imperfections that the evolution has an opportunity to become, that God is constantly, every day, inviting us to evolve and grow, but He is not inviting us from a place of power that we can do it on our own, but rather from a place of brokenness. It’s in those broken places that we begin to realise that something can and might change. Like a child learning to walk, when crawling becomes completely inefficient, the desire to be on your hands and knees ends and you see it for what it is. The child begins to desire growth, and slowly they rise to their feet with lots of trials, errors and falls.
Perhaps you are feeling the tension of knowing that something needs to change within you, that some part of your brokenness or imperfection is drawing you to try something new, something that might be like walking. If that‘s the case, please allow for the imperfection, embrace the imperfection, because God certainly does. God allows it, and embraces us.
Love yourself enough to allow change. People resist change. Love yourself enough to imperfectly evolve.