Warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/takemyha/public_html/wp-content/themes/canvas/functions/admin-hooks.php on line 160

Love for Imperfection

Philo of Alexandria once said, “Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle.” I have carried this mantra for awhile now, beginning when I taught at a public high school. There were days when a student’s behavior would be so infuriating that I would want to scream! As a pastor, I occasionally meet people who provoke a similar reaction. It is helpful, then, to remember that there is more going on than meets the eye. People wrestle with sorrow and loss and heartache all the time. Dreams and loved ones die in painful and tragic ways. We may interact with people in public on a “normal” basis, but inside, they are feeling anything but normal.

            Tom Rachman has written a novel called The Imperfectionists. Through the lens of a struggling newspaper in Italy, we glimpse the complexity of the lives of a host of characters. Rachman has brilliantly woven their lives together: each chapter focuses upon one employee of the newspaper and tells a story from that perspective. As the narrative unfolds, the reader catches glimpses of different people who will later appear, which enables the reader to gain an understanding of the actions of each character. Once we have seen things from their point of view, we learn the battles they were fighting. I found myself having compassion for characters whom I had previously dismissed, discounted, or discredited…even people whom I would have yelled at!

            At New Dublin Presbyterian, we are currently studying the First Epistle of John on Wednesday mornings. As background, I begin our time together by identifying intersecting themes from this short letter and the Gospel of John. For instance, you will notice a great similarity in vocabulary and theology by reading the opening chapter of each book (John 1:1–14; 1 John 1:1–4). “Love” is also a major theme in each, specifically, agape love: the kind that Jesus defined as a willingness to lay down one’s life for another person (John 15:13). Agape love is sacrificial and, therefore, demonstrated by actions (for example, see 1 John 3:17). It is interesting to read the famous John 3:16 about God’s love for the world alongside the corresponding chapter and verse from the First Epistle of John: “We know love by this, that he laid down his life for us–and we ought to lay down our lives for one another (1 John 3:16).” We are called to love even as God has loved us.

            During Bible study, we began to unpack some of the implications of practicing this agape love towards others. We decided that this love might very well be perfect, but last time we checked, we didn’t live in a perfect world. What about people who try to take advantage of us? One man asked, “Is it love if I allow someone else to walk all over me?”

            No, I don’t think so. Abiding by abuse is not abiding in God’s love. But I also see how the characters in The Imperfectionists so often had conflict with one another because they did not know the other’s story.

            We, too, live in an imperfect world full of selfish and rude people who sometimes make us want to scream. I believe that agape love is the best way to make peace in such an imperfect world, but perhaps we need to take things a step at a time. Instead of immediately asking people to be willing to die for one another, maybe we could start by promoting a little kindness. Something as simple as suspending judgment can lead to something as profound as compassion, which, in turn, may just lead to something as sacred as love.

About Andrew Taylor-Troutman

I am a pastor and a preacher, a writer, a husband and a father. My professional and personal lives are deeply involved with story-telling: stories that are silly and poignant or profound and commonplace. Stories that are tear-jerkers and belly-shakers. Stories about my son, Sam, and the congregation I serve, New Dublin Presbyterian Church. Each in its own way, these personal narratives shed light on the great story that God is writing with humankind and all of creation.


Subscribe to our e-mail newsletter to receive updates.

7 Responses to Love for Imperfection

  1. Sidney Pasquino June 25, 2012 at 7:27 am #

    You are so interesting! I do not think I’ve truly read through anything like that before. So great to discover someone with a few original thoughts on this topic. Seriously.. thank you for starting this up. This site is one thing that’s needed on the internet, someone with a bit of originality!

  2. Bud Engebretson June 21, 2012 at 7:23 pm #

    Great – I should definitely pronounce, impressed with your web site. I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs as well as related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Reasonably unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or anything, web site theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Excellent task.

  3. Andrew Taylor-Troutman June 20, 2012 at 12:02 pm #

    Hey friend,

    You are welcome to re-post or re-blog information you find here. I would ask that you credit the source by including the following: Andrew Taylor-Troutman, http://www.takemyhandmemoir.com

    Thanks for your support. Good luck with your own work.


  4. Rex Grabill June 17, 2012 at 6:34 am #

    Magnificent beat ! I would like to apprentice while you amend your website, how can i subscribe for a blog web site? The account helped me a acceptable deal. I had been tiny bit acquainted of this your broadcast provided bright clear concept

    • Andrew Taylor-Troutman June 17, 2012 at 12:58 pm #

      Thank you, friend. Glad you found my blog to your liking! You are welcome to subscribe to the RSS feed located just above the comments section. Please come back to the site often and keep in touch.


  5. Andrew Taylor-Troutman April 30, 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    I have just re-read Wendell Berry’s 2012 Jefferson lecture. He makes the statement that, “As imagination enables sympathy, sympathy enables affection.” This made me wonder what parallels might be made with my progression from suspending judgment to compassion to love. Berry’s lecture is available here: http://www.neh.gov/about/awards/jefferson-lecture/wendell-e-berry-lecture

Leave a Reply