“Nothing is perfect.”
Those words cut me. They always have. I don’t care if they’re true because everything in me wants them to be untrue. Everything in me longs for perfection though perfect is as cold and distant as the morning star.
Yet here is the lesson I keep learning over and over again: when perfection falls to earth it veils its light in imperfection.
This house is my perfect dream come true, but Lord-have-mercy it is a mess.
Half the windows can’t be opened, whole chunks of molding are missing near the roofline, there is an ominous bulge in the plaster wall along the stairs, and please do watch your step on the porch. You never know when your foot might crash right through.
I wrote these words in Roots and Sky, though I did not know how true they would become:
“… I picture this house, this hilltop, cracked open. Torn right open. And everyone invited to come in. In this picture, it seems that something precious has been emptied out and is being passed around. It is a frightening, exhilarating vision.”
The thing about a broken, imperfect house is that we cannot live in it alone.
When I met Dr. B (“doctor of old houses”), he told me he had prayed God would bring him another old house to work on.
When I called J about our windows and gave him my name, we both held our phones in a state of shock. Apparently, he had purchased Roots and Sky for his wife only the day before.
Jonathan and I always hoped that this place would be a blessing for many beyond our own immediate family. We glimpsed how that could be true our very first Easter when one hundred neighbors joined us to hunt eggs on the lawn. We sent those invitations to a neighborhood of strangers because we were lonely.
I called these local craftsmen because our house is broken.
Perfectly, beautifully broken.
Praise be to God for broken houses, broken hearts, broken bodies, and all the other precious broken things.
Praise be to God for hands that heal and hands that make things beautiful and whole.
Praise be to God for roses.
Praise be to God for thorns.
I love hearing inside your head. For me, “perfect” feels claustrophobic. Maybe it’s because I’m so intimately acquainted with how I will never be able to achieve it, and how gross and broken I am on the inside. Maybe it’s why heaven “freaks me out” as Micah worries these days – because the idea of all that perfect makes me feel exhausted and makes him (and me me) worry we’ll be bored. Apparently I’m an eight year old boy on the inside. : ) I haven’t had easy answers for Micah when we try to imagine how heaven will satisfy all these parts of us used to needing to constantly be swinging from conflict or grief to truly appreciate the joy. It doesn’t make sense to either of us. But for now, though, I’m with you when I say, Thank God for roses and thorns.
And I love this peek into your head! Just as I hit “publish,” the thought occurred to me that not everyone longs for perfection in the way that I do and that this post probably revealed more about my personality and temperament than I am comfortable revealing. 😉 But your response (and Micah’s!) fascinate me. Perhaps you two must learn what perfection truly is and so come to embrace it? And perhaps I must learn what imperfection truly is and so come to be grateful for it? Perhaps perfection and imperfection are sometimes two strands of the same good thing?
Not only did I pray for another historic home to work on after being caught up in the dreadful vinyl jungle for awhile, but also to cross paths with people who understood that I was given this gift and perfected it for a reason and I want to leave no stone unturned on your beautiful broken home. My prayers have been answered. Thank you God.
You and your gifts are a part of the Maplehurst legacy now, Dr. B. 🙂
Oh man, do I love all the words you write!
Thank you, Erin! 🙂
Christie, I’ve thought often about your roses since reading “Roots & Sky” (my copy isn’t handy, so I can’t double check) but I remember there is a variety I wanted to find because you mentioned it’s remarkable fragrance. Isn’t that funny of God, to put beautiful color and a heady aroma atop a plant that has thorns at its base. You have to navigate the thorns to cut the rose.
Thank you for this truth-telling glimpse into Maplehurst and your ways of finding God’s way through its rebuilding. What a testament to God’s faithfulness.
Yes! I think you’re remembering Blanc Double du Coubert. It’s a beautiful rugosa rose, so healthy and easy. VERY thorny, but the smell is like nothing else. Mine has only grown and grown since that first spring.
I am so delighted to have found my way to your book and site! God finally has my heart in a place where I am open to imperfection in my life, my home…myself. It has been nearly a three year journey letting go of dreams, a home, a career and discovering His perfect plan for the imperfections of life! I am able to live with sincere gratitude and not just say thank you. To marvel at what He places in my path with joy-real, deep soul expanding joy. I am currently about 1/3rd done with your book and am loving it and look forward to following your adventures in Maplehurst! Thank you for the gift of your words and heart!
Susan, your story sounds so much like my own! I am glad you found your way to Maplehurst. Welcome.
Stunning, Christie. I love the idea of perfection and I feel like I see it on a small scale (flowers, birdsong, the morning breeze, a teenager’s smile) but the big picture is always so imperfect. I don’t call myself a perfectionist because I see my inability, but Jesus is making all things new, constantly renewing, constantly perfecting. Your home is, I’m sure, perfect for the people it ministers to.
The repairs on our home have been numerous and painful. I long for perfection. Thank you for this. I have come back to this article a few times to refrain my thinking. What a new way to think – even the repairs bring an opportunity to welcome the repair professionals into our homes.