I have some some questions I’d like you to ponder:
- When it comes to (what you consider to be) “imperfections” and “mistakes,” how do you view yourself?
- Do you allow (what you see as) “flaws” to define you? To limit you?
- How do you view the purpose and the outcome(s) of things when they don’t go as planned?
- Do you truly understand that your unique experiences (whether you see them as good, bad, or ugly) are all useful in light of our right standing with the Lord?
“Moreover we know that to those who love God, who are called according to his plan, everything that happens fits into a pattern for good.” Romans 8:28
Let me back up, and share a story and some insights that may help to clarify things.
A few weeks ago, my husband discovered a plastic Ziploc bag of old coins in a vehicle he had purchased at auction. He was working on it in order to get it ready to resell, and found them under the seat. Some of the coins dated back to the 1800s!
As a young child, my dad taught me a bit about old coins, as he enjoyed collecting them. He happened to pass the hobby along to me. If you are not familiar with things that make coins valuable, I’ll give you a brief rundown.
First, the more perfect condition, the more likely they are to be valuable. This seems quite obvious, as most coins get circulated and have a lot of damage and flaws by the time they reach old age. A lot of collectors will purchase a “mint” set or a “proof” set (both are different types of un-circulated coins sets) in the event that a specific year’s coins become valuable down the road. A mint or proof set, while beautiful to look at, will not hold much value beyond the amount of the coin itself, unless it happens to become something rare down the road. These coins sit unused, often boxed up somewhere “safe” where its beauty is never even recognized.
Coins were designed to be used—to see life in ways that paper bills would never know! They were meant for spinning through the crank in a bubblegum machine, getting dropped in a red Salvation Army bucket at Christmas time, bringing joy to children playing arcade games, and to be slipped under pillows by the Tooth Fairy. But sadly, while sitting untouched in a case, they never get to experience the full beauty found in purpose. Yes, the purpose will bring flaws… It will damage the edges, it will wear the dates, it will scratch the faces. However, each flaw tells the story of an item that saw and experienced its intended use.
Most of the time we look at our value only through the lens of the first kind of value; the lens of the perfectly un-circulated coin. We compare ourselves to the ideal; to “perfection.” We view each and every one of our flaws as something that makes us less useful, less beautiful, or less valuable. We forget that there are other things which hold value besides getting things right every time.
“The Lord sees not as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b
The second thing makes a coin valuable is actually an accidental defect or an intentional deviation from the usual manufacturing process. Sometimes a coin would accidentally be double stamped. Other times, the die might not line up correctly and a coin would be stamped off center. An offset, or double stamped coin was intended to be discarded and never put into circulation. Occasionally though, they will slip through. Collectors love these 😊
During military times, there were certain years of coins created with different kinds of metal, for example the 1943 penny is made of steel, rather than copper, because copper became rare and needed for materials during the war. Again, it is the deviation from the the norm makes these more collectible.
During many points in our life, we find ourselves under pressure. We sustain wounds during battle. We go through difficulties which scar us. Maybe we even make wrong choices and take wrong turns which alter our view of ourselves in our own eyes. We compare ourselves to others and get discouraged when we don’t measure up. We forget that these differences, and even the things we view as “flaws” make us unique, make us special, and if we re-frame them, actually make us more valuable, not less.
Perhaps it’s a disability we would never have chosen for ourselves. Perhaps it was a circumstance where someone else hurt us deeply. It could even be a wrong choice which made it so that we could never step back onto the path that we thought we wanted. In the midst of these very “flaws” we can actually find value!
- Perhaps we are being refined into a better version of ourselves.
- We are becoming more relatable to others though shared experience, giving us the credibility in their eyes.
- We are gaining wisdom which we can share with others so that they don’t make the same mistake too.
- Best of all…if we really pay attention, we’re likely discovering God’s deeper purpose for us in the process.
“The outward man does indeed suffer wear and tear, but every day the inward man receives fresh strength. These little troubles (which are really so transitory) are winning for us a permanent, glorious and solid reward out of all proportion to our pain. For we are looking all the time not at the visible things but at the invisible. The visible things are transitory: it is the invisible things that are really permanent.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This post is dedicated to the memory of my Dad, Don Winterton, who passed away January 4th, 2018. ❤