Not Perfect, But Right
By Diana Motolinia
Recently, I decided to attend some free knitting and crocheting classes offered at a local community center. The idea of learning new things is more appealing to me at 63 than I think it has been for quite some time; additionally, I was hopeful that it would be beneficial in combating stress, something my doctor recently warned was affecting my health.
Of course, one begins as a beginner, and I haven’t truly progressed beyond that, to be honest. Still, I have completed a few simple projects, and it is a pleasure to behold the cute, albeit imperfect, results of my work.
When I told my daughter that I wanted to crochet a beanie for her son, she suggested I fashion it after one worn by a character in one of his favorite movies. It looked doable, so I purchased the bright red yarn and got to work.
Halfway through the project, I realized that I had made a small mistake toward the beginning that had gone unnoticed at first, but had gotten bigger as I had continued. It was necessary to undo what I had started and begin again. As I unknotted the knots, I thought, “This hat has to be perfect—well, not perfect, maybe—but right!” Somehow, the doing and undoing of my crocheting seemed to mar the yarn texture to a certain degree. I thought it would probably be noticeable on close inspection. Still, I wanted the actual crochet work and finished project to be done right, even if the material itself had some flaws.
Upon reflection, I felt the Lord was reminding me, through this object lesson, of my own life, with all its imperfections, some barely noticeable and others ginormous and glaring. And then the sound bite, “not perfect, but right,” spoke to my heart. Jesus reminded me that my life has been right, that of a person made righteous by Him, regardless of the material He has to work with, marred by my flaws, poor judgment, sins, and what I often perceive as horrific failures.
Then, too, there’s the whole process of making things right once one has made mistakes or blunders, or committed even what one or others may actually perceive as iniquities, that can be so messy and downright convoluted, and requires so much effort and even pain to disentangle. Thankfully, I feel secure in Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance. Going to Him in a spirit of repentance is humbling, yes, but I always feel safe because of His unconditional love and grace. However, going to others, be they family, friends, acquaintances—acknowledging my mistakes, and often not even being able to verbalize how or why I did such and such a thing—that is where the fabric of life seems to get rubbed and marred even more. I am tempted to not even begin to try to make amends, because it is almost always a dolorous, complicated process. Yet it yields a peaceable fruit of righteousness in God’s perfect time. The finished product is better, even with what may seem to be imperfections to the casual observer.
One biblical character I had quite honestly never held great admiration for is Lot.1 As a young Christian, I kept him in my mental file of those unworthy of my respect. I mean, talk about selfish: he chooses the best pasture land for himself, basically leaving the leftovers for his uncle, Abraham, who had magnanimously offered him first choice.2 This, after Abraham had taken him in when orphaned and brought him along as he journeyed to Canaan, following God, who had promised to make of him a great nation. I figured Lot definitely had it coming when he, his family, and all his goods were taken by Chedorlaomer.3 I kind of wondered why Abraham would even bother to go to his nephew’s rescue after the greedy, grabby way he had behaved; but then, family is family, and love covers the multitude of sins, I figured. Then, instead of getting what one would think was a very clear hint in favor of leaving behind the whole lifestyle and scene in Sodom, Lot had the audacity to return there.
Yet nevertheless, Lot was considered righteous, according to God’s Word.4 This, in spite of himself, and because of God’s grace and His power to redeem the basest and the worst, as the Bible repeatedly illustrates in the lives of many others of His very imperfect saints. Many consider David and Paul to be the most noteworthy in the Bible; and of course, there are others throughout history, my current favorites being St. Augustine and John Newton.
Nowadays, after more than four decades of following and serving the Lord as a missionary, mother, and teacher, the school of hard knocks has given me quite a degree. I can relate to Lot and his story. Like him, I have followed God, often not knowing whither I went. I have also been selfish; I have been weary in well-doing. I wince now to reflect on times that I have lacked courage and conviction to stand up to opposition and do the brave and unpopular thing. My heart aches when I reflect on the occasions when I have failed to nurture, strengthen, protect, or care for those I love as I should have, and how they have been hurt because of that failure. Yet, God has, in His great wisdom and plan, taken these lacks and broken purposes to illustrate His great mercy and longsuffering with me as His child.
I am righteous because I am forgiven and justified by Him. This humbles me (making me more useful, I would think—or at least it’s a good starting point to getting there), at the same time that it thrills my soul and brings a supernatural peace to my heart, knowing that it is okay to be imperfect, even as very, very imperfect as I am.
We are made right in Christ, according to His mercy and grace and divine design—and that is what matters, really, at the end of the day.
“The meaning of life. The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word: grace.”—Max Lucado
“To rise from error to truth is rare and beautiful.”—Victor Hugo
1 See Genesis chapters 11–14 and 19, which cover the story of Lot.
2 Genesis 13:9–11.
3 Genesis 14:12.
4 2 Peter 2:7.