It’s finally time to leave the grocery store — with my half-size cart, groceries stacked so high they surpass the height of the metal that tries to contain them. I blink in the light of the sun as the glass doors part before me. To my diagonal left, a woman waddles towards me, entering the exit I’m about to use. Hair unkempt, she leans on her buggy, steadying each of her steps. She’s really struggling I think to myself, smiling at her beneath my mask.
Just as I try to cross the threshold, the front wheels of my buggy get caught (on what is still a mystery to me) and I can’t move. Who’s struggling now? I try to shove it forward, but the back buckles. Grabbing what was on my list, along with what wasn’t, has weighed the buggy down so much that I’m, indeed, stuck. I push harder this time, but to no avail.
The waddling woman gets closer and what she does next surprises me. Without saying a word, she reaches for the bottom of my buggy. I beg God not to let her fall over; she doesn’t. Instead, she pulls my metal basket up and towards her, and suddenly I’m able to move forward.
I intentionally slow my brisk walk as I gander at the grandeur before me. Tall and strong, rich and green, our state tree beckons me. What about the handouts? Won’t I be late? Somehow, pausing for beauty overtakes responsibility.
A smile stretches across my face at the glimmer of the glossy leaves, the contrast of their green hue against the sky’s blue. But as distance diminishes, I can’t deny…this tree is far from perfect. I’ve expected total symmetry, and my smile disappears when I realize: the branches on the left are far outweighed. Why didn’t they trim it evenly? I disdain what I, seconds prior, admired.
What if they had trimmed the “too-long” branches? The ones forming a nice canopy over the walkway, offering more places for birds to light, squirrels to hide? What if they had forsaken utility for vanity?
Instead, they let it be both: useful and beautiful. The thing they had to let go? Perfection.
Why do we believe that imperfections disqualify, that they de-beautify? What if, instead, they can be used for God’s glory, to magnify His strength (2 Corinthians 12:9)? What if the ones who struggle still have great value?
These who don’t let weakness or lack of perfection stop them from doing all they’re asked to do, the waddling woman, the lop-sided tree — these are the brave ones. The kind ones. The ones we see Love in. These are His hands and feet.
Imperfection, today, is what surprised me.