Beautiful Doesn’t Mean Perfect

“This is the season she will make beautiful things. Not perfect things but honest things that speak to who she is and who she is called to be” – Morgan Harper Nichols 

This was the beautiful poem that Maggie shared with me this month during our mid-year check-in. How did she know that this poem exactly sums up what my whole being has been longing for leading up to the start of 2021? I’ve concluded: Maggie reads minds.

This year, I will strive to internalize the truth that “beautiful” does not mean “perfect”. I hope to believe that the work that I do, the things I create, and the energy that I put forth in the world can be beautiful; I want to believe that I can “do” and “be” good in this world without frivolously striving for unattainable perfection. 

In this year, I desire to live with more integrity to the person that God has created me to be and is calling me to become. One of the most impactful things that I heard in the past year was shared with our CFJ community by timone davis at our Magdalene Circle event. She said “The more you grow in your faith, the more you grow in your relationship with God, the more you will make the people around you uncomfortable”. This came at a time where our country and Church were very divided. In my personal faith life, it came at a time where I was struggling with questions such as “is there such things as ‘perfect’ Cathloic?” and “can I still be a good follower of Christ and not be the perfect Catholic?” Grappling with the “grayness” of these questions brought some much needed discomfort into my life. 

The “honesty” that I’m called live out this year is to embrace that discomfort. How do I need to lean into discomfort? How am I called to learn and grow through the discomfort? And what discomfort am I called to introduce into the spaces that I occupy and communities that I enter? Last summer, I attended a community organizing training with a nonprofit that does incredible work to advocate on behalf of and to stand in solidarity with marginalized, working-immigrant communities. If I learned anything about community organizing, it is that our job is to make other people uncomfortable. Change, growth, and progress cannot happen when people are still comfortable, and especially when I am still comfortable. So the “honest things” that I am called to make this year may feel uncomfortable at times, may even cause a bit of unrest or discord, but I believe that it is essential for me to live with integrity to the discomfort that I’m invited to participate in if there’s any hope of contributing to work for change and justice.  

The past year has forced me to accept that growth and progress may often be intangible. I admit, I am an impatient individual with a very task-oriented mindset. This leads me to thinking there always has to be something to show for work that I am doing (both internally and externally).  I end up trapped in my own self-inflicted disillusionment for not meeting arbitrary standards of “perfection.” You’re probably thinking what I’m thinking right about now: “How is this helpful to anyone? How is this in the slightest bit productive?” Well, it simply isn’t helpful. And the solution for me seems to not “do more” but to “be more”. To “be” alone, to “be” in community, to “be” with others more intentionally and fully, to “be” unapologetically myself.

Cheers to 2021 and a new administration!

Linh Nguyen