We Are Imperfect…And Perfectly Loved

We are imperfect women who are perfectly loved by a perfect God. {my graphics are free goodies for you}

We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. Isaiah 64:8

We walk through the door of a room that smells of earth and dirt, fallen trees, and ancient seasons. The table is rectangular, surrounded by a rainbow of small chairs. My daughter and I are decades ahead of our fellow participants in this clay class. The others are pig-tailed and freckled, dark-headed and clad in neon tennis shoes. “Did you know it would be like this?” she asks. “Nope,” I reply. We grin.

I signed up for this class as part of my resolution to be a tourist in my hometown this year, to do things I never have before. I’d pictured fellow adults around me, a serious and substantial exercise. Instead, it’s like art class in elementary school. Already the table is messy. Already it’s clear I’m not among Picassos or Monets. I’m delighted and relieved.

We sit and the instructor points to a block of gray in front of us. “This is your clay. Today we are going to shape it into hearts.” We trace outlines on the surface with a thin stick, then dig deep. All that is not necessary or useful is stripped away. We hold the hearts in our hands, and their cool, still surfaces grow warm and alive beneath our touch.

“Now you can design them however you’d like,” the teacher says. My daughter chooses freehand. She swirls and writes. I use little presses to make polka dots and patterns. Hers will be spoon rests. Mine a set of ornaments. And I think of Jeremiah, sent by God to the potter’s house, and how this prophet watched a craftsman with the clay, “shaping it as it seemed best to him” (Jer. 18:4).

This work is intimate and personal. There is no mass production. No uniformity or conformity. It would be impossible to replicate one of these. Two little girls across from us gleefully push their hands into their pieces and I see fingerprints. If we ever wonder if God wants us to be like someone else, ever worry He’s disinterested in the details of our lives, ever fret He’s after machine-like perfection with us, then all we need to remember is that He is a Potter.

After we shape, we paint. But before this comes a disclaimer from the instructor: “When the clay goes through the fire, it will come out white.” This is beautiful and familiar to me, the way trials bring out something unexpectedly lovely and strong in us. I choose red paint and follow lines and curves, working with care. And the whole time I have this vision in my mind of what will be. I work toward that, steadily, and when the form is imperfect, when it has dents or cracks, uneven edges or inconsistencies, I am not deterred. I understand this is the nature of clay.

And I come to understand, too, this clay has but one role: to yield itself to my care. It has nothing to worry about, to fear, to strive for as long as it remains in my hands. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil. 1:6). We are dirt and we are the crafts of divinity. We are dust and delight. We are in progress and already perfectly loved.

At the end of the class, I look at the places where those plain gray slabs had been. Each one now holds a new creation. Some thick-skinned. Others delicate. Pink and yellow and blue. Some decorated with ponies and others looking suspiciously like pizza slices. None of them are museum- or art-gallery worthy. But they all have this in common: each reflects their maker in some way.

And I realize, suddenly, this was always the whole purpose, the entire point. To display the vision of the Artist is what success looks like for clay.

XOXO
Holley Gerth

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free ebook from Holley GerthThis post is an excerpt from my new devotional, Hope Your Heart Needs: 52 Encouraging Reminders of How God Cares for You. It’s a little book that’s big on encouragement. Get your copy (and some extra for Christmas gifts) at your favorite place for books today and you’ll also get an exclusive, limited-time only ebook, Hope for the Holidays (get all the details here). Yay!

I’m also over at (in)courage today sharing about how you truly are making a difference. Join me?

*****

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About Holley

About Holley

Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author and Life Coach

I like humans, words, and good coffee. And I’d love to help you beat what’s holding you back, become all you’re created to be, and kick butt for the greater good.

Cheering you on,

Holley

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