There is an ornament that hangs on my mother’s tree that is little more than yarn and popsicle sticks. There may be a small strand of silver garland attached to it, although I’d be surprised if that part has survived the years of holiday packing and unpacking.
I made it when I was about Devin’s age, upstairs in my bedroom, late at night when I was supposed to be in bed. It started as a Girl Scout project, but I brought it home and improved upon it with bits of yarn and that tacky garland that I found around the house. I gave it to my mom for Christmas and she has kept it safe year after year, seemingly oblivious to the fact that it is little more than yarn and popsicle sticks.
It’s flawed and crooked and tacky. And perfect. My mother told me so.
There is a girl, a woman, I suppose, who sits in her living room in Central Florida. She is little more than a collection of dreams and ideas and valiant best efforts. There may be a little bit of youth and optimism and innocence left in her, although you’d be surprised if any of that has survived the years of real life’s trials and tribulations.
She is not quite 30. She is at times impatient with her children, but tells them constantly how much they are loved. She can be selfish and arrogant and quick tempered. She has spent a lot of years looking at the world in black and white, only to learn later that the absolute truths in life usually lie among the shades of grey. She is funny and warm and loud an intrusive. She is sincere more often than she is cruel, but she can be cruel just the same.
She is flawed and cracked and, sometimes, a little tacky. And she is perfect. Her mother told her so.
I suppose that makes her lucky.
She, or rather I, am neither afraid nor ashamed of the ugliness in me. I’m not proud, granted, but acceptance is not the opposite of pride. Acceptance just is. And it is something I wish more of us could extend to ourselves.
I wish it was easier for people to say “this is where I mess up, this is where I fall down, this is where I have been less than what I aspire to be”, while still being able to hold on to the belief that they were acceptable. Perfect, even. Flaws and all. The kind of love that comes with acceptance feels so much more complete, so much more reliable, to me.
Instead, it seems that so many people in the world are desperate to cover up their perceived imperfections. They excuse or justify or flat out ignore the possibility that there is darkness within themselves. They hide their cracks from the outside world, their closest friends, and themselves, for fear, it seems, that good and bad cannot coexist inside one person.
I want so badly sometimes to shine a light on their darkness, if only to be able to say, “look! I see it! I see your wounds and your fears and your weaknesses and your mistakes! Look! I see all of them! And still I believe you are perfect.”
Perhaps it is self righteous to presume that my version of love that comes from knowing about the ugly is somehow better than another version that comes wrapped up in pretty ribbons and cheerful words. Maybe that’s my own arrogance peeking through.
But damn, it feels good to be loved for who you truly are. And I wish so desperately to be able to spread that around. I want so much for people to see their own flawed perfection, so that they, too, can pass on that level of acceptance and understanding to others.
In the end, I suppose it’s both ironic and hypocritical to want to push my version of acceptance on anyone.
(insert thoughtful conclusion that nicely ties this up here. please.)