Learning to Love Imperfection

My three-year-old daughter gave me a gift the other day.

She handed me a motorized toy with gears and spinning wheels, the very first one I’d ever bought her, and still one of her favorites. “Here, Daddy,” she said. “This is for you.”

“Oh, thank you, sweetie,” I said. “Is this for me to keep?”

“No, Daddy, it’s for you to fix.” Cuteness incarnate.

“All right, then, let me see…looks like it might need fresh batteries.” I quickly retrieved a fresh pair, along with one of those all-in-one screwdrivers, and immediately sat down to work. With my trusty assistant by my side, of course.

Time passed and effort was expended without the desired result. “Sweetie, I think it’s broken.”

Then, without missing a beat, she scooped it up and held the hulking mass to her chest. From behind the toy, she spoke in a tone just as sweet and beautiful as her initial request. “That’s OK, Daddy, I love it anyway.” Then she carried it back to her play kitchen, where it has occupied a place of prominence ever since.

After I wiped away a tear, I got to thinking.

What if we could learn to cultivate such a loving, happy, and carefree relationship with imperfection? How would we treat the imperfections in the world, our circumstances, each other, and ourselves differently if we could only say, with a sigh of affectionate acceptance, “that’s OK, I love you anyway?”

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