Beginner’s Guide to embracing imperfection

In my ramblings on central Oregon trails this past week, several imperfect trees caught my eye. Not because they were imperfect. But because they stood out. In beauty. In uniqueness.


All photos: Marlys



In the story of this young pine above, I see fragility. And tenacity borne from some sort of trauma.

Something caused it to bend over. The weight of snow. Or maybe damage from a fire.

But it kept growing. Upward. Toward the light.

In our human fragile-ness, we can become bent from the weight of life. Caring for an elderly parent with Alzheimer’s or a child with a disability. Watching a spouse slowly die of cancer. Parenting adopted kids with past trauma. Infertility. Financial setbacks that change everything.

These are heavy weights. But if there are any certainties in life, there’s this: We will certainly be called to bear weighty things.

It’s because we live in a broken world. And none of us get out of this life without broken hearts, or broken homes, or broken bones.

And maybe our imperfect lives are meant to be lived with tenacity.

And maybe our continued growth from the bent-over-ness is designed to show others how to live well in their brokenness and sorrow and disappointments.

Our imperfections—those places where we grew back imperfectly after the sorrow or the trauma bent us over—what if we saw those imperfect places as unique? And beautiful?

What if our beauty comes about because of our bent-over-ness and the tenacity to continue growing upward, toward hope?

And what if our imperfections could actually be powerful. Because now we have the power to show others how to thrive in their bent-over-ness.

This thought from Ann Voskamp, one of my favorite authors:

I’m not sure I’d known: we can be brokers of healing exactly where we have known the most brokenness.

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This is a challenge to keep our eyes open this week for someone who is experiencing a hardship that we’re experts at.

And let’s determine to be a comfort to them in their broken places.

“[God] comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

— 2 Corinthians 1:4


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  1. So well put, so true.

  2. Mary Tomjack

    So beautifully said and lived, Marlys

  3. Grace Lawson

    I so agree with Marty and Mary !! Even though I don’t know you, I love your kindness !! Thanks for this article Dear Marlys !!!

  4. Peter

    Our imperfections, bend-over-nees and brokenness (in Ann’s quote) really got the grey matter thinking, such descriptive and meaningful areas to think about. This is meant to hopefully amuse who ever reads this. We all have areas of brokenness/imperfection I guess…’my right foot was turned in over from birth’, though it’s not troublesome, it’s still noticeable when I walk/run. I played a good level of soccer throughout my playing days (for my home town and British Police Service etc), I played on the left of the field and being mainly right footed I used the ‘turned-in-ness’ of my right foot to bend the soccer ball when passing or shooting for a goal. The managers who I played for would get round to commenting and asking, “How do you do that?, bend the ball as you do.” It might not create the picture, the way I’ve described the above, but by doing this on the left side of the soccer field it used to baffle the opposing players because the ball would bend away from or around them, especially the goal keeper!!. This is just a whole load of nonsense I know BUT the truth is I used my brokenness/imperfection to create a means of individual skill, I guess God made me take stock and He said, ‘You can do it’. Years later when coaching/managing, this ‘individual skill’ came in useful. Thanks as always Marlys, such lovely reads of purposefulness. Bye the way, we were in touch with Barbara…. you all have a wonderful get together later this week…. you’ll all be in our thoughts as we think of our wonderful adventures in your very special Oregon. Our love, God Bless, Bx P & family.

    • Well said, Peter: “I used my brokenness/imperfection to create a means of individual skill.” And what a great story and example. Thank you!

  5. Great photography, Marlys, and words that are so true.

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