Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Imperfections Can Be Useful

Photo by Johnny Vulkan
New Is Not Always As Useful

Have you ever had to count through a brand new stack of paper money? The other day, I withdrew some money for my cash budget envelope system, and I was having a few challenges sorting out my money. In my stack of cash, I had several brand new, unused dollar bills that were difficult to grab onto and separate.

Once I was finally able to pull them apart, I ended up taking each dollar bill and gently bend, pull, and twist each one so that it had a few small wrinkles and imperfections in them so that they would no longer tend to stick to each other. After taking a little time to do that, I could easily re-stack the cash and quickly count through it.

Life Experiences Can Be Less Than Perfect

When I was younger, my life seemed pretty "perfect." Am I saying that I am or was a perfect person? No way, but looking back now some 20 years ago, I can say that life didn't seem as complicated or full of little problems. And, I'm not saying I didn't have issues back then. I guess they were just a much different set of issues. I can view that time as being like a clean, fresh stack of dollar bills. You could say that I didn't have a lot of experience under my belt.

But, over the course of time, we go through various life experiences. We encounter difficulties. We work through our problems, gain wisdom, move on, encounter more challenges, draw upon our previous experiences, grow as a person, and so on. As we travel through life, we get a little more worn, a little more used. Little imperfections rise to the surface of our lives. We now have multiple life experiences to draw upon when we need them.

The weird part is that as we grow, mature, and gain little imperfections through our life junk, we start to become more useful. People start to seek out our advice and counsel. People start listening to what you have to say - shocking! And they really listen to you when you have successfully and maturely worked through some big, heavy life stuff. At least, this has been my experience.

What Are Your Imperfections?

God has uniquely designed you as a human being. He has given you a certain set of talents, abilities, time, and money. Over time, He also gives you (or, at the very least, allows) a unique set of life experiences. Some of those experiences may be extremely positive, and some of them may be negative.

Negative life events can range from the death of a close family member, health problems, job loss, divorce, financial problems, and so on. Positive life experiences from which we learn and grow can be anything from graduating from college, navigating a successful career, growing a great business, getting married, raising a family, and living out your unique calling in life. Whatever positive and negative circumstances we encounter through life, we change. We become more useful to ourselves and others, assuming that we maintain a mature response to our circumstances.

In James 1:2-4, we read the following about our personal growth as a result of the trials of life:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
We need to embrace whatever challenges come our way through life. Through the difficulties, we learn and mature. As we mature, we gain knowledge and wisdom. We can then turn around and use this knowledge and wisdom to not only help us through the next set of hurdles in our life, but so that we can also turn around and help others through their problems as well.

So, how "sticky" are you? Are you so "perfect" in your own little world that you're not terribly useful to anybody? Do you think you have life all figured out that you no longer need to grow and mature? If so, you're probably not very useful to yourself or to others around you. Think about it.

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