Cute little guy isn’t he? Morgan and the children of family friends were playing in the front yard when the youngest stopped playing with the big girls to make this little snow man. It wasn’t easy because it was cold which means that the snow makes these beautiful picture perfect snow flakes that are gorgeous, shiny and perfect in every single detail, and you can see every detail like it was crafted by a master artist before it fell to earth, but the snow is so dry and powdery that it doesn’t stick together very well to form a snow ball much less a snow man. Being from Georgia, my experience with snow was limited at best growing up, but it was the exact opposite of Colorado. Snow meant a hasty trip to the grocery store where bread, milk and eggs were no longer in stock. Freezing rain would welcome the snow and create black ice everywhere. Then these half melted mushy snow flakes would fall that would freeze onto everything, and the snow was so heavy that it was real work to get a ball big enough to make a snow man base. If you actually had enough snow, you could roll it around and make a perfect snow man. It was like rolling up a layer of sod just you were rolling up wet, cold snow, but you had to have enough snow.
When we first got to Colorado, I was fascinated by this sparkly, perfect snow that fell at 20 degrees. Powdery and dry, this was Hollywood snow, snow that I had only seen in movies where they show you each individual snow flake and the crystalline structure that makes it up. Snow so perfect that you don’t believe it is real. It snowed the day we showed up and were unloading our moving van. We woke up the next morning, and I was more excited to see about 4 inches of snow than 8 year old Morgan was. I wanted to rush her outside. I was anticipating a snow ball fight, making a snow man, going sledding and possibly building a snow fort with this much snow. In other words, I wanted to share every good childhood snow memory that I had with her, and I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted most of all to share that feeling of freedom and fun that snow brings to a Southern child. Snow meant no school, no homework, and good smells coming out of the kitchen all day. Hot chocolate to warm up your hands, hot soup with grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch and usually beef stew for dinner. For one or two days out of the year, winter time fun ensues, and you have to make the most of it before it melts away. We hoped for snow. We longed for it. We even prayed for it every time the weatherman so much as mentioned it.
We had a traditional snow day breakfast of oatmeal, and we ran outside. I scooped up my first hand full of snow to make a snow ball, and the smile slipped right off of my face, and my jaw dropped open. This snow that was made up of all of these perfect parts wouldn’t make a good snow ball. It was too dry. I was crushed. I felt betrayed by this perfect snow because my snow had never acted this way. I looked around at that 4 inches of snow, and my betrayal started to turn to disappointment with a dash of anger thrown in. How could there be a childhood fantasy amount of snow, and I couldn’t form a good enough snow ball?!?
Smack! Morgan hit me in the face with a snow ball that she had managed to make. I looked over at her, and she was very happy with the snow, grinning from ear to ear. She had no snow expectations because she only remembered seeing snow once in Dallas. She hadn’t expected this perfect snow to make better snow balls or better snow men. She didn’t see this snow as perfect at all. It was merely snow, and she was ready for the good times to begin. She accepted the snow for what it was – 4 inches of snow to a kid who had only seen snow a handful of times in her life. She smacked with me with another snow ball, and I was suddenly laughing having ditched my mood to adopt hers and just enjoy the here and now. We went sledding. We brought a water bottle out and made a snow man. We enjoyed our day and overcame the problems that it held. I hope that we made memories for her that she will recall as being a great part of her childhood.
Too often though we demand perfection in the people who surround us, and we get disappointed in them when they can’t live up to our expectations. We blame them because we see them as being perfect, or looking perfect, or living the perfect life where nothing bad happens, and we don’t look closely enough to see the flaws that their smile, their lifestyle or their achievements actively hide from us. We see them as that picture perfect Colorado snow when they’re really just Georgia snow. They’re really misshapen and out of balance with melted edges here and refrozen prickly edges there like the rest of us. We all have struggles, trials and failures that we keep hidden behind smiles and walls. Like that half frozen, barely recognizable as snow Georgia snow, even with lots of flaws, we can create beauty. Our problems and our pain make us who we are, and they make us appreciate beauty when it flourishes despite all of the obstacles stacked against it.
Take a second to put on God goggles instead of beer goggles. See the flaws, the shortcomings, the failures, and celebrate all of that brokenness for the glorious lessons that it teaches us about our humanity. With eyes of love, look at the people around you joining you on this journey of life, and simply accept them as they are without judging. Leave your expectations behind, and simply know that they are just as broken as you are. They need the same hope, love and faith that you need in order to get through this day and the next one, so show them love by offering a smile and a word of encouragement. Make an effort to shed light instead of darkness, and you’ll see what kind of beauty can be created by all kinds of small imperfect parts when they come together.
Finding beauty in imperfection will leave you feeling happier than ripping perfection apart to find the inevitable flaws. Anyone can destroy another person with words or actions. It takes faith, love and great strength to get beaten down by life and still build other people up. It takes determination to see the good in other people. It takes practice to show people God’s love. It’s nice to know the God of the universe loves us just the way we are, warts and all.