On Imperfection: a Lenten Lesson

I started off this Lenten season sure that this was the year I was going to get my act together.

I was going to start getting up early, early enough to make morning prayer at a nearby chapel at 8 am. Nevermind that I normally don’t roll out of bed until 8:45 and daylight savings had just kicked in.

I was sure that, with the help of a new planner, aggressive list-making, and Google alerts, I was going to find a way to manage the overwhelming numbers of tasks I’d signed up for. Nevermind that between church committees, choirs, prep work for applying to seminary, my day job, and this blog, I was already working 60+ hours a week.

Within two days, I had already failed. I still haven’t gotten up a minute before 8:50 for the past two weeks. I’ve fallen behind on emails, blog posts, and work-related tasks. And to make matters worse, I decided in the midst of all this chaos to switch over my blog from Blogger to SquareSpace. What difference could one more task make?

Well, it turns out that transitioning a 6 year old blog to an entirely new platform is a messy process. For one, it broke every single one of my links, and I couldn’t figure out how to automate 301 redirects for three days. I transitioned my domain over before things were properly formatted – they still aren’t because I don’t have the time – and scrambled over the course of two days to make as many changes as possible before the work week started back up, all while family was in town.

Meanwhile, I’ve been in choir rehearsals all week preparing for a Mozart concert Friday, which gives me even less time than usual to get things done.

What I realized – pretty quickly – is that my blog has functioned as the one place where I have absolute control. I control every aesthetic decision, the blog schedule, the narrative. I get to choose what I want this space to be. And that control has been a desperate power grab intended to maintain a facade of perfection, if not to anyone else, at the very least to myself.

Maybe nothing else in my life could be perfect – everything else, after all, is collaborative, and therefore I always have to give up a measure of control for the sake of the collective – but here, this space, could be the tidy home where my carefully crafted identity could flourish.

This week, my cover was blown. It turns out I’m not perfect, that I can’t manage a million tasks, ever, but especially in the midst of a season intended for introspection, of waiting for transformation.

And I am in my own season of transformation, too. I need mental space to understand and to discern. To make big decisions – the kind that turn everything upside down.

So maybe the thing I’m “giving up” for Lent is the false narrative that I am capable of being anything more than human. I have been forced, by my own making, into admitting that my life cannot be boiled down to a series of tasks. Or, put another way, that my life is and can be abundant – that I can be thankful – even and perhaps especially when I am dropping all the balls.

When I loosened my grip on perfection, I looked down at my unclenched hands and realized there was ample room to hold onto love and beauty and overwhelming gratefulness.

Loosen your grip, too, and we’ll clumsily move forward into spring, preoccupied only with the sun on our backs.

Leah Wise

Leah Wise is the founder of StyleWise Blog. She has been writing, speaking, and consulting on sustainable fashion, the fair trade and secondhand supply chain, and digital marketing for over ten years. An Episcopal priest, Leah holds a B.A. in Religion from Florida State University and an M.Div. from Yale Divinity School. When not working, you can find her looking for treasures at the thrift store.

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