Monday, 2 July 2012

Wholehearted living: The Gifts of Imperfection

by Peter Lockhart

"I think most of us have developed fairly well developed bullshit meters when it comes to reading self help books."

Brene Brown in this respect is dead right when it comes to my opinion of self-help books. I am not normally the type to pick up a self help book, I think they can cause as many issues as they solve. Yet, when David Lose mentioned Brene Brown in one of his reflections on the lectionary I did some digging and found a TED talk by Brene.

Interested in what she was saying I actually purchased the book The Gifts of Imperfection and found me self reading it. In the struggle of understanding life as one in which I find myself simultaneously a sinner and righteous the discovery of my self worth comes from God's love, not any inner place.  Yet Brown's concept maintained some appeal in how to live from such a place. She sees that, "Wholehearted living is about engaging in life from a place of worthiness."

Brown, who is a Christian, whilst not engaging explicitly in any theology on some level expressed for me the process of the liturgy which involves a recognition of our imperfection, a conscious admitting of that through confession and reception of God's love and grace in the midst of that. When we declare the peace and share it are we not accepting ourselves as worthy and each other in our shared worthiness?

Brown's approach is pragmatic. At the end of each chapter using the acronnym DIG (Get Deliberate, Get Inspired, Get Going) Brene outlines simply how one might engage in 'wholehearted' living. Again and again it came home that this was not about finding perfection or fitting more in or pleasing others but living life to the fullest.

And again and again she pointed out the traps in our thinking and behaviours. For example the idea that we can truly control how others think about us, "Being in control isn't always about trying to manipulate situations, but often it is about the need to manage perceptions. We want to be able to control what other people think about us so that we can feel good enough."

I am not a huge fan of the whole "self-help" genre so maybe it is a testament to Brown that I actually read the whole book. Or maybe it is because at the heart of Brown's book I found something fundamentally connecting with my Christian anthropology - we are imperfect people (sinners, if you will) yet God loves us and calls us to live abundantly.


  1. Your reflections on the book etc impress me, Peter.
    Like you. I steer away from self-help stuff, but I sense I could gain from reading this one.
    Thank you


  2. Just what I needed to make my decision on whether to read or not read it.