Why We Need To Stop Saying “You’re Perfect!” #BeautyInTheCommon

IMG_3279

As a girl who openly admits to using social media probably a bit too much, I’ll be the first to admit that I say a lot of silly and mindless things. Whether it’s a pointless tweet appreciating the dancing sharks in the 2015 SuperBowl or posting a ridiculous video on Facebook of cats jumping to AWOLNATION’s song “Sail,” most of my posts, comments, and tweets can definitely be summed up as unnecessary .

But I want to focus on the posts, comments, and tweets I’ve been seeing for a few months now that keep getting at me. When I first saw it in a comment on Instagram, I was just confused. Why would anyone even think that’s a compliment since it’s so unrealistic? Then when I saw it in comments on friends’ Facebook pictures, and then in tweets about celebrities – men and women – my annoyance level escalated.

What is it that I’m referring to? Let me tell you:

A girl posts a picture on Instagram. It could be a selfie. Or it could be her with some girlfriends. Or maybe even her boyfriend. And she’s looking really pretty/cute/beautiful/gorgeous…you fill in the blank for a complimenting word.

But what do girls AND guys these days say in their comments when they’re trying to be complimentary? “Omg you’re perfect!” “No, stop, YOU’RE perfect!”

I kid you not. ‘Perfect‘ has become the new favorite compliment.

Here’s another one: ‘flawless.’ As in, someone updates their Facebook profile picture. A friend comments, “you’re flawless!”

Yup. Flawless.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, both “flawless” and “perfect” are defined as “being entirely without fault or flaw.” Last time I checked, we as human beings are not “entirely without fault or flaw.”

So why does this bother me so much? Because it portrays an unrealistic expectation and inaccurately describes us as human beings. I have nothing wrong with complimenting friends on a picture they post and focusing on how they look, but why do we have to tell them they appear in a way we all know they don’t?

I know that most people would tell me, “Drop it Alyssa, who cares if people say ‘you’re perfect’ or ‘you’re beautiful.’ What’s the big deal?” To me, there is a bigger deal here. Both men and women are constantly struggling with their body image on a day to day basis, and it only hurts rather than helps people when we use terms like “flawless” and “perfect” as description words for one another. It creates this unrealistic expectation that we as humans can achieve perfection in one way or another, when this is known to be false. Not only this, but these words give us false confidence that we actually are perfect and without a fault or flaw.

Do we really want to pretend that we are something we are not? Why not celebrate the imperfections we possess, and enjoy the fact that in spite of not being flawless, we possess such specific flaws and qualities that make up our very being? That set us apart from the crowd? That create an individual that can’t be anyone or anything else?

I know that I possess the strength of appreciating individualization, so this is definitely where this little rant is stemming from. But I also wish the rest of the world could begin to wrap their minds around the beauty seen in common or uncommon imperfections, and how each individual imperfection and flaw sets us apart from one another. It’s what defines us and separates us from someone else. Our faults give us character, something to work on, something to appreciate, and even to celebrate!

What is a scar from a skateboarding accident? It’s physical proof of a great story just waiting to be told – and it clearly makes someone flawed and imperfect from otherwise “perfect” skin.

What is an emotional scar from a traumatic event? It is one that shapes us and grows us into who we can become, and remind us that we are not defined by our pasts. It is evidence of our imperfect nature, and how we can discover the beauty within the mess.

So I challenge all of us to stop commenting on our friends’ pictures with so-called compliments like “OMG you’re perfect!” or “Dang you are flawless!” Because, at the end of the day, isn’t it more fun to be recognized by your distinctive imperfections that set you apart from one another than your apparent “flawlessness” that would make you blend into a crowd?

Let’s try to celebrate each others’ flaws and imperfections, and discover the beauty in the commonness of one another. Let’s focus on flaws. Celebrate blemishes. Cheer on mistakes we now see. Appreciate what we’ve learned from a mess.

Let’s stop using “perfect” and focus on the beauty we find in the common. Because that is what deserves to be celebrated.

Just some thoughts and whatnots. Enjoy!

– Alyssa

If you’re wondering what #BeautyInTheCommon is all about, check out the webpage www.beautyinthecommon.com, and go to my friend Ian Simkins’ wordpress to learn more about this movement that he created. There’s also a Facebook page for it, too.

PS – If you’re looking for more posts on beautiful messes, check out my blog post on eating disorders here

Advertisements
Posted in My musings | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

I’m Back!

Enjoy this random meme of a super cute husky being adorable as part of my randomness. Happy Wednesday!

Hello WordPress community!

It has been since May that I have even been on here, and that wasn’t even when I last wrote. Crazy!

I’ve recently decided to stop letting work, school, and life get in the way of putting my thoughts down to paper (or a screen…) again. So here is the first post of what I plan on being many more to come. Enjoy some thoughts and what not(s), and hopefully you can take away some thoughts of your own.

Have a great day,

Alyssa

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Getting Worship Wrong

This could not have been written any better. Excellent job, Ian.

.the sword and the plowshare.

The lights fade.

The crowd quiets.

The well-timed fog rolls in.

Cue lasers.

Ready the doves.

“Good morning church. Let’s begin with some worship!”

Sans the fog and lasers – this is a scenario a lot of us are not unfamiliar with. My question is – should that concern us?

In ancient cultures social life revolved around sanctuaries, temples, stadiums and the like.  It was there that various gods were worshipped as people gave of their possessions, skills, and even their lives as sacrifices to the adoration of their deity.

But what is worship, really?

Author Harold Best puts it best, ironically:

“We were created continuously outpouring. Note that I did not say we were created to be continuous outpourers. Nor can I dare imply that we were created to worship. This would suggest that God is an incomplete person whose need for something outside himself (worship) completes his sense…

View original post 1,093 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Beauty in the Leftovers

Beauty in the Leftovers

There is beauty in messes and leftovers of materials used to create the ‘masterpiece.’ Which is more beautiful, the way the pastel dust eloquently fell on the easel ledge or the final piece they created? Tough to tell. I see more beauty in the messes and accidents of life sometimes than in the masterpieces they were intended for.

Image | Posted on by | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Eden: a sex slave’s story

Captivating and real. We need to read things like this more often to realize a) how blessed we girls are who have not had to have this happen to us and b) to know how to help.

Investik8

Image

Wearing just their underwear, the girls line up with their backs to the wall, arms by their side, heads down, frozen to the spot. They dare not move.

Their captors walk up and down the line – picking them seemingly at random and tapping them on the shoulder – ‘You, you, you and you… come with me’.

In the back of a warehouse truck, they are driven for miles across the scorching Nevada desert until they reach a hotel. There, they are forced to have sex with up to 25 men one after the other.

This was life for Korean-born American Chong Kim who, at 19 years old, was sold as a domestic sex slave in 1994 to Russian gangsters and held captive for more than two years.

“The clients never came to the warehouse,” she recalled “That was just where we slept. There was nothing there but bed mats…

View original post 1,754 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“…and He loved him.”

toddler playing with paint making a mess

No matter how many messes we get ourselves into throughout life, Jesus continues to “look at us and love us” despite ourselves.

This past summer while working at a well-known Christian camp in Michigan, I read the story “The Rich and the Kingdom of God” in Matthew 19. In fact, I didn’t just read it once on a summer night in my cabin. I read it a minimum of five times during training, and a minimum of twice every week the entire summer.

That means I read that story at least 24 times in the span of just three months. So when it came up again during one of my classes recently, I thought I knew the story forwards and backwards – who wouldn’t after having read it 24 times and having to explain it to middle schoolers each week for two months straight?

Naturally, I realized I was wrong and that my pride of knowing about the story seemed to have blocked my truly knowing the story. Isn’t it funny how this can be a common occurrence for us as Christians? After rereading the same story about the rich entering the kingdom of God in Mark, I instantly noticed a significant difference between the version I’d read in Matthew all summer and the version I’d just read in Mark.

As always, background information/context is key! This story tells about a random man who approaches Jesus excitedly while Jesus was on his way to another city. The man eagerly explained to Jesus that he had kept all of the rules of the Ten Commandments and had followed all of the rules of the Law as well. He then asked Jesus what it was, exactly, that he lacked.

Now here is the big moment – In Mark 10:21, the author makes it known that before Jesus ever tells the man what he lacks, tells him basically that he’s a fool for trying to be perfect, and answers his question with as little sarcasm as possible, he first acknowledges that “Jesus looked at him and loved him.”

Yep, that’s it! Pretty great right?

Okay….I know what you’re thinking: what’s so big about this? Doesn’t Jesus love everyone already? He just looked at him…it’s not like he healed him or saved him from demons or brought him back to life, like many of the other New Testament stories talk about. So what’s so great about Jesus looking at a guy and loving him?

Here’s where my mind was blown (and maybe yours too) – Jesus makes it a point to look at this man – this random stranger who has no other significance in the Bible other than this small passage – and to look at him in such a way that conveys love and gentleness before telling him he is wrong and that he is indeed still flawed in an area of his life. Mark makes it a point to recognize that Jesus loves this random stranger more than he cares about correcting his theories and thoughts on keeping the Law at the time.

How often do we as people, Christian or not, think about the mistakes we’ve made and want to say in our defense, “But I haven’t done drugs or had sex or drink or text and drive or smoke or gamble or watched that or done that….etc. etc. etc!” And instead of Jesus telling us “yeah, about that, you still did this and this and you still suck here and there and well….you’re still pretty messed up,” he rather “looks at us and loves us.”

Isn’t it reassuring knowing we believe in a God who doesn’t believe in punishing us for our sins, and instead chooses to look at us lovingly and gently when we mess up before convicting us? It’s like the way a parent would be with any other clumsy two year old who continues to make messes, spill food on their clothes, and cry. How can you only scold and punish someone whom you know will mess up again in the next ten minutes? Of course love and gentleness will convey the point more than any matter of scolding ever would.

So enjoy the fact that he looks at us and loves today, no matter how many times we mess up! And take it to the next step – try to look at someone and love them back just like he does for us. Don’t just hear this, actually try it – try looking at someone and loving them today, despite themselves and yourself.

Just another thought and whatnot from me to anyone who wants to listen 🙂

~ Alyssa

Posted in Faith, My musings | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fearfully Wonderful

Image

Fearfully Wonderful – buck in the snow in Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Warner

   

 Snow is such an interesting concept. It’s either known for its beauty or its power. 

     It’s a symbol of peace and innocence with its white powder daintily covering the surfaces of trees and roofs and cars and fences. Yet it also holds so much power – its potential to blind drivers, cause crashes, lock things in or out, and come in dangerous storms all reveal its fearful nature.

     How could it be possible for something made of powder to be so dangerous? From the cute little flakes we watch melt on our windows to the blizzards that cause so many tragedies, this concept of snow can be expressed in two very different ways.

     The contradicting yet well-known perspectives on snow remind me of the way the world tends to view God. There’s one group who thinks of God as the powerful “fire and brimstone” deity – the one who would most likely associate himself with the dangerous power of snow that causes so much fear for so many people. Then there’s the group who assigns cute and harmless qualities to God and sings these pretty worship songs and only focuses on how He loves everyone and everything.

     What if we were to only talk about one side of snow and never see the other perspective? What would you think if your friend just continued to gush about the beauty of snow and how snow storms are the most beautiful things that could happen to our towns because the snow is just the prettiest as it sparkles in the sun and brings joy to kids of all ages for various fun-filled snow activities? Or, what if your friend focused on all of the negatives about snow – how it means cold temperatures, potential power outages, difficult roads, and dangerous driving? Wouldn’t it seem a little strange to only focus on one aspect of snow when we all know there’s so much more to it?

     I feel like this is often what the world does to God and faith in general. Instead of finding the myriad of qualities God possesses, the world tends to focus on one or two qualities and run with it. Yes, God is powerful. Yes, he did indeed do some rather scary and fearful acts in the Old Testament regarding sin and people’s disobedience. And yes, God is also the definition of love and is understanding and unconditional in his constant and unfailing love for us all. 

      But does he have to be either or? Do we have to choose which qualities to focus on? Not at all. In fact, it’s inaccurate and it minimizes God when we do so.

     We are so fortunate to believe in a God who happens to be both of these things – powerful and beautiful! His qualities of beauty can be seen in his unconditional love for us, as well as his desire to have a relationship with us and to know us personally. The beauty in his desires to know us is often related to that of a relationship between a husband and a wife throughout the Bible. The essence of God is lovely for this reason but also in the way that he is so incredibly creative – he is the one who uses the elements of snow to paint a perfect picture in the end, making it photograph-worthy. Whether it’s his longing desires to know us the way a husband knows his wife, or the stunning beauty of nature captured in his creation, God definitely possesses aspects of beauty.

     So, yes, God is beautiful. But to not consider the power he is capable of is forgetting half of who he is. In Genesis 1:27 the Bible says we are “made in God’s own image.” Then, in Psalm 139:14, the Bible states that we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” So let’s connect these two pivotal verses of the Bible – if we are made in God’s own likeness, his image, and we as people are made fearfully and wonderfully, wouldn’t this mean God himself is therefore fearful and wonderful?

     Absolutely. “Fearful and wonderful” – doesn’t it sound a little like dangerous and beautiful? I found it perfectly ironic when I clicked on ‘fearful’ for a synonym out of pure curiosity and discovered that the antonym (or opposite of) ‘fearful’ is ‘wonderful’ according to the thesaurus. How cool is that?!

      So when we look out our windows and see the beauty this multitude of snow brings – whether it’s falling slowly and peacefully or sweeping across our windshields in blizzard form as we drive on the highway, let’s remember that it isn’t just dangerous and it isn’t just beautiful. Let’s remember to not assign certain aspects to God and forget how many more he possesses. Just as I am thankful for snow being both powerful and beautiful, I am so much more thankful that my God is both fearful and wonderful.

 

Sincerely,

 

Alyssa

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment