The Beauty of Imperfection

My journey began at my baptism.  I was baptized as a baby but my faith was a choice that my parents made.  I went to church every Sunday with my family and did all the right things like being involved in altar serving, choir, and youth group.  Being Catholic was just something I’d always known and done.  It was during Grade 6 or 7 that I realized that my faith could be more than something I did because my parents expected it of me.  I read a series of young adult Christian fiction novels where the characters in the books talked about having a personal relationship with Christ.   I remember that in every book, at least one character gave their life to Christ.  I wanted the excitement and joy that I was reading about, so I decided to do the same.  Lying in bed one night, I looked up to heaven and told Jesus that he could have my heart.  I invited him into the center of my life. I really had no idea what my decision meant, but it seemed like the right thing to do.  I expected that everything would be different from that point on, but I felt nothing.  My initial excitement wore off and the commitment soon had very little meaning in my life.

When I got to high school, I wanted to make that decision an important part of my life, but I didn’t really know how.  I went to a few retreats and conferences to try to find out what that decision really meant.  I remember being amazed by the number of young Catholics that were there who seemed to have made that decision to give their lives to Christ, and I was initially intimidated by their zeal and excitement for God. I would go home uplifted and inspired to actually pursue the personal relationship with Christ that I had started while reading those books; I desired to become a better Catholic, to pray more, and sin less.  I committed to achieving a relationship with God marked by perfection.  But just as when I first decided to give my life to Christ, the excitement would only last a few days or even a few weeks, before I eventually stopped praying and started making mistakes.  Every mistake I made felt like another failure.  My attitude reflected the question, “Why try if it’s not going to be perfect?”

I struggled with this through high school, and by the time I got to university, I was done with trying and failing.  I settled for what I had with God: a desire for him to be at the center of my life, but only living out my faith by attending Mass on Sundays.  I was encouraged by my family to get involved with CCO, but I was tired of doing what was expected of me and being involved in extracurricular activities.  I opted to not be involved in my faith outside of church to avoid failure.  I lived going through the motions of my faith for a few months but by the end of October, I realized I didn’t really know who I was or how to find myself on my own.

One day, I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to go to a Cornerstone event that night for the first time.  I didn’t really want to go, but knew that it was probably the right decision.  As I sang during Praise and Worship that night, I realized that I had allowed my hurt and anger to create barriers that were preventing me from experiencing God’s love.  For years I had been simply going through the motions, expecting my moment of decision – my single “Yes” to God – to carry me through.  I now knew that having a relationship with God needed to be about more than just the initial decision.  It required an ongoing commitment.  And more importantly, I decided that I wanted this relationship.  When I realized that I truly wanted that relationship, all the feelings of failure came rushing back.  But I was determined to keep trying.  I joined a faith study, started taking part in CCO fellowship activities, and then attended Rise Up in Winnipeg.  My relationship with God was not perfect, but I was working on it.

At Rise Up, I started thinking about applying for IMPACT Calgary, CCO’s summer mission project.  During the Adoration night, I prayed about whether I was called by God to apply.  Well, God definitely answered my prayers.  He told me “No,” not once or twice, but three times.  I was really hurt by this.  Wouldn’t God want me to share my faith with others by going on a mission project? I prayed through the hurt, asking God why he was refusing me.  He spoke to me again, revealing that I needed to get serious in my own faith and continue persevering in having a true relationship with him before I challenged others to do the same.  I resolved to spend the year working on my relationship with God and growing in intimacy with him.
Sounds easy, right? Not really.  Yet again, the mountain of failure that haunted me from my previous tries came to face me.  But I believed that I could take things step by step and achieve a better relationship with God this time.  Even though I was determined to be “successful”, I resolved to work through the feeling of failure I would experience when my relationship with God wasn’t perfect.

I spent the next year working on my relationship with Jesus in prayer, fellowship and service.  Despite that I was not yet perfect, God called me to serve on IMPACT Ottawa.  I knew that I wanted to gain a solid prayer life on mission, and I knew that I wanted to grow in deeper intimacy with Jesus.  With those great expectations, I gained so much more.  I am ecstatic to say that after serving God for four months in Ottawa, I have a completely new understanding of God—God as my Father.  I know now that God wants me in the same way that I want him. The most beautiful thing about seeing God as my Father is that I don’t have to be perfect and have all the answers.  God loves me despite, and because, of my weaknesses.  He loves me unconditionally.

Coming off mission, I openly admit that I don’t have a perfect relationship with God.  I’m not perfect, but my imperfection does not deter me from seeking that perfect relationship with God.  There is beauty in my imperfection because the only one who can make me perfect is God.  The ‘yes’ I give God every day allows him to take my imperfection.  The ‘yes’ I make every day leads me further into intimacy with him.  I never want to stop having conversion.  Without conversion, there is no growth; without growth, there can be no intimacy.  I hope and pray for the opportunities to continue traveling on this journey—a journey closer the heart of my Father.

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