I woke up from too long of a nap yesterday—er, today—wondering, “Is this my next book?” Then I decided, just as quickly, I don’t want to spend a whole book talking about this. (I once read a book that was ultimately meant to inspire women to be happy with themselves, but after it spent so many pages commiserating with me, telling me again and again how hurt and imperfect I felt, I got plumb tired of reading it, God bless it.)
I wouldn’t have realized I have another birthday coming up in a couple of months if someone hadn’t pointed it out to me this past week, and I was thinking, “Wow. Almost a year already since the last one? Have I accomplished what I meant to this year?”
Anyone else notice the irony of “almost” and “already” occupying the same thought like that? Anywho. Whole ’nother blog post.
The advanced answer to my question about accomplishment for the year may be no and yes. Where I’ve not accomplished some of the concretes I had in mind, I have seen forward movement in the spirit of the ultimate goals I’m looking to reach with those concretes, and I’ve been doing my best, so, hey. It’s all right. Life isn’t over.
I took the plunge and submitted some of my books for reviews over the past year, not to gain literary acclaim but to reach more readers—a goal I’ve had to remind myself of more than once during the mentally arduous process of searching through cyberspace for reviewers, checking out anywhere from eight to nine hundred of them, sending individual requests to nearly four hundred of the eight-to-nine I found (I refused to do the impersonal, mass-message thing to one and all, opening the message with “Dear Book Reviewer” or “Dear Book Blogger”), and resulting in the little chunk of reviews I’m now proud and grateful to have. Granted, there’ve been a handful of reviews, one in particular, that all but made me want to hang up my trusty Author hat and go find myself another gig. “Lord ’a mercy. Sorry you didn’t like my book, there, sir, madam. I think it’s pretty neat, and I know I’m not the only person who thinks so, but, *gulp.* Yeah, sorry about that.”
Alas, even the literary greats haven’t escaped getting their share of negative reviews. That’s life. And I write to help people, so as long as readers are being reached for that purpose, then, hey. It’s all right.
There are some of my books I’ll probably never submit for reviews, given my awareness that I’ve likely broken too many of the “rules” when I wrote them, and I can see the reviewers coming down with their big pens of critical red ink to slash prominent red “X’s” over my nuggets of literature. “Nice try, Ms. Keels, but, nope. Imperfections, here.” But would I take those books off the market? Absolutely not. I’ve resolved that my books have what they’re supposed to have in order to be what they’re supposed to be, and they wouldn’t be perfect for what they are without their imperfections.
Besides, the books that have touched my life the most haven’t done so because they’re perfect books but rather because they’re perfect for me. And the imperfect books I’ve written are made to help imperfect people.
I was having a conversation with my former pastor years ago, telling him about some of my goals in life and frustrations along the way, and while giving a nod to my striving and ambitions, he told me to “be sure to leave room for your humanity.” Yeah, okay. We’re all human, aren’t we? But there are moments when I forget that, or I remember that and don’t care. High five and hoorah to the whole “humanity” bit, but I don’t want to be human right now, I want to be perfect.
Oh, I can see myself like fragile, tortured Nina-the-dancer in the 2010 film Black Swan, dolled up for Thomas-the-director, telling him in a trembling, troubled murmur, “I just want to be perfect.”
Yikes. Did she ever.
Yet, here’s a list of affirmations that we used to recite at my old church.
I am a child of God and a manifestation of His thoughts.
I am an expression of love made manifest.
I am a unique and valuable individual.
I am capable of giving and receiving love.
I am filled with God’s Spirit through Christ. Wholeness is the essence of my true nature and identity.
I am more than my body. I am a spiritual being.
I am perfect in my imperfections.
I am enough.
My brother, while teaching Christian Education class one Sunday morning, joked about the possibility of people in Jesus’s town not believing He was Who He claimed to be, due to His carpentry. “Naw, Jesus, you ain’t nobody’s Son of God. You’ve been out hawking your wares like the rest of us and you made that table for me one time and it was kinda rickety.” Well, goodness. Jesus, being a man, could very well have put out a rickety table or two over the course of His busy carpentry career, but what good would He have been to the world if He hadn’t had to deal with the ups and downs and laughter and blood and sweat and tears, and perhaps the occasional rickety table, that humans have to deal with? What of a God Who is Who He is without end, and, being whatever He wants to be and never being less than He is, once chose to be human?
Well. Then. God must have known what He was doing when He made me a human, with all that’s built into my humanness. Even as I am, as I should be, constantly reaching for better, my present imperfections essentially make me a perfect human being.
Oh, the irony, the irony. I love it.
Naturally, dear reader, keep on striving toward your goals. Keep on reaching for better. Make something great out of what you have to work with. Keep on doing your best, and during the course of your journey toward betterment, be sure to leave room for your humanity. You wouldn’t be who you’re supposed to be without it.
You are a manifestation of God’s thoughts. You are perfect in your imperfections. You are enough.