I like the concept of unlikely heroes.
Unlikely heroines, even better.
Whether in my writing, my ministry, life coaching or real life, I try to keep my focus on the core of human nature: our flaws.
But what at first glance might be considered a downfall, is actually a triumph. We have done amazing things in our imperfections. Humanity as a whole, and people as individuals. Your mistakes refine you. Your flaws make you humble and allow others to relate to you. And your purpose is often defined by the hardships you’ve endured.
We are all imperfect beings who were designed for perfection; perfect spirits living within flawed flesh. I believe this is what keeps us striving for more. We are always reaching for Utopia. And whether you believe Utopia can be found on this earth or you believe we must wait until we are on the other side of heaven to fully experience it, it is a common journey we all share; something engrained in the human collective.
When I first began writing novels I was brandished for having “flawed” characters. I was told that people wanted to escape by living vicariously through characters in books. If an author got too close to the reader’s reality, the effect would be ruined and you’d lose the reader.
I did not agree with this, and I still don’t.
Life is all about relationships. God created us to have a relationship with him and it all trickled down from there. We are meant to have relationships with each other. And a good book enables the reader to develop relationships with the characters. One of the best ways I’ve found to build a connection with another person – in real life or in a book – is to meet them on common ground. One flawed human to another.
And I’m not just talking about quirks or circumstances. I’m talking about flaws. A woman struggling with promiscuity. A man struggling with drug addiction. Real honest, true-to-life flaws the reader/friend/girl-across-the-room can identify with.
So I pressed on in spite of the negativity about my work. Seventeen years later I’m still writing, and my characters are still flawed.
I am reminded of the people God chose to use in the Bible, as vehicles for the delivery of His plan as told through the history of mankind. Moses was a murderer and a coward, but with a heart for God’s people.
Jacob was a liar interested only in his selfish desires, but through hardship he learned to embrace his purpose. He fought for the woman he loved, and for the God he loved.
Abraham was impatient, but he learned to trust God, even if it meant agreeing to sacrifice his long-awaited son.
God’s glory and transformational love is magnified through his use of flawed people. If he had only selected those who appear perfect and pious we would be more apt to dismiss these feats as the accomplishment of man, rather than the result of God’s power, love and grace.
And in literature, Pip (Great Expectations) was superficial, idealistic and immature. His ambition caused him to shun the people he loved, but his experience of poverty and heartbreak eventually softened his heart.
Tom Joad (The Grapes of Wrath) is narrow-minded and lacks the ability to see the big picture, but when he finally embraced the greater purpose there was a hard-won fervor behind it.
Their stories resolve because of their flaws, and we as readers get a more fulfilling ending because of them. I think the same can be said of real people living in today’s world.
So the next time you are overwhelmed by the mistakes you have made, take a moment to embrace your flaws and consider yourself as a collection of good and bad. You are shades upon shades of gray, a complex swirl of layers. Made beautiful by your imperfections.
Your flaws do not define you, but they do refine you.