Imperfection

Damascus Steel - 

noun

1.  Hand-wrought steel, made in various Asian countries, from parts of a bloom of heterogeneous composition, repeatedly folded over and welded and finally etched to reveal the resulting grain: used especially for sword blades.


I used to only give the typical church response when men asked me how things were going.

“Fine.  Everything is going great!”

I, of course, was lying.  I didn’t consciously think about lying every time I was asked, I had just been conditioned to not share how bad things really were.  I came by it honestly.

  • It wasn’t really socially acceptable to share your pain.
  • Our Western culture isn’t really interested in things not being great.
  • Everybody else is pretty busy and dealing with their own junk.

I remember being at a men’s event about 15 years ago where the speaker told us that when you meet a person, what you really meet is an elaborate fig leaf.  A well crafted facade that keeps you from seeing the real person inside.  It became pretty clear to me that….

I was lying, but so was everybody else.

When we talk to folks at the “boot camps” I help lead and they are a little incredulous about the fact that life isn’t perfect or that their childhood wasn’t as idyllic as their recollections, we tell them…

  1. They grew up in a place far from Eden.
  2. They grew up with parents far different than Jesus.

Things may not be terrible, but they are not as they should be.

Things may not have been terrible, but they weren’t as they should have been.  

We are all marked in some way by the experience of this life and so is everybody else.  And we carry a longing for restoration.  A desire for things as they were intended to be and one day will be again.  The Revelations tell of a time where old things will pass away, tears will be wiped from our eyes, there will be no more pain or suffering, and all things will be restored.

A few year’s ago, a bunch of us were passing around a short Neeman Tools mini-documentary.  It was the one where they are making a short knife from Damascus Steel.  It was mesmerizing.  So captivating, in fact, that the then $225 knife, accompanied by this powerful video, now retails for $1,950.  Interestingly, it was the weathering process, the repeated hammering, the folding over, and beautiful imperfection of the steel, that made it so beautiful…and so valuable.

I was at a men’s event in Colorado recently which was being facilitated by some real sages of the Kingdom.  Good kings that had earned the right to be heard.  They weren’t shiny and perfect.  They were comfortable with their imperfections and their fractured journeys.  In fact, they were actually being celebrated for the currency of their redeemed pain.  Because they had lost and learned, because their lives had been folded over, hammered again and again, they were more powerful…more valuable.

They spoke openly about their failure.  They humbly, but boldly offered their powerful stories of their redemption.  They noted that things weren’t perfect and had been pretty rough, but that they had learned by their stripes and were becoming healed.

Whenever I encountered one of them in a conversation over a meal or around the fire, I fought the same impulse: I wanted to take off my shoes and sit at their feet.  To learn, to bask really, in the power of their redeemed pain.  I want more of that in more of me.  It is the fuel for the journey toward my further restoration and the restoration I desire to help bring to everyone I love and lead.  What could be more valuable than that?

  • How are things going for you?  No, really... how are things going for you?
  • Are you aware of how different things have been than they should have been?
  • Do you know that the whole point of this Christianity thing is restoration?  And not just the journey from sinful to saved, but the journey from broken to healed.  Not later on…right here and right now.
  • Can you look back at the weathering pain of your story and the redemption of that pain, and see it as currency?  As your greatest treasure?