Wabi-Sabi: An Imperfectly Beautiful Life

There’s a new home trend that interior designers are calling ‘the new hygge.’ It’s a style with a new feel that is going to change the way we decorate our homes, just as much as Scandinavian simplicity did a few years ago. It’s called Wabi-Sabi, and I love everything it stands for, but my passion for it almost has nothing to do with the aesthetic — rather, it’s about embracing an imperfectly beautiful life.

Somehow, in spite of the fact that my home is more toddler designed than anything else, I stumbled across this new design trend and it just spoke to my heart. I fell in love with it, to be frank, and while my husband is having a difficult time coming to terms with my newfound love of all things Wabi-Sabi, let alone the terminology, I’m still hoping he will begin to see the beauty in it.

Wabi-Sabi is about embracing imperfections, and capitalizing on them in beautiful ways to create a beautiful life.

For the past 4 years, hygge was everything. We all just wanted to cuddle up reading a big book with a fluffy arm knitted afghan, cream colored candles and a giant cup of tea. Hygge meant hiding away and staying cozy with your loved ones during the blistery winter months. It demanded beautiful simplicity in color, an ode to Norwegian style, clean lines, and above all, that charming sense of warmth. I was fully on board with hygge, until I met Wabi-Sabi.

While the idea of hiding away all winter still kindles a warm glow in my introverted heart, this new style offers its own charm that speaks to my overall life.

I’ve always been the girl who loved imperfections in people, places, and things. I’m the girl who is longing to build a new headboard with the piece of wood with all the knots, the giant split in it, and the little bit of bark left on from milling. In fact, I spent an hour searching through a pile of lumber to find that signature piece.

I love old chipped china, roughly plastered walls, and less than perfect people. Old homes with cracked walls and broken doorknobs have history and personality that I tend to miss when those homes are updated and flipped.

In fact, I think perfect things are boring, plastic and a little creepy. You know that creepy look of fake wood, sterile houses, plastic dolls or worse, plastic people. They lack depth and warmth and sincerity. Give me rough-cut lumber, lopsided pottery, and the weird-shaped winter hat my neighbor knitted for me. I love those things! That is Wabi-Sabi.

Three Reasons I Love A Wabi-Sabi Beautiful Life

First, Wabi-Sabi makes me think of God. He takes us with all our imperfections, all our mistakes and rough edges and He turns us into something unimaginably beautiful. Like a piece of broken pottery that’s been mended with gold, God takes our broken places and uses them to magnify His glory, His story!

We can still see the imperfections, we can still recall our brokenness, but we can also embrace God’s ability to take all of it and turn us into a work of art. When we can look at God’s ability to take everything and make it into something magnificent, we learn to truly appreciate those little unique imperfections, that make us, us.

Romans 8:28, And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

Wabi-Sabi also reminds me of friendship. Mom-fails are as charming as they are funny, and I love it when my friends share their disasters, mistakes and bad hair days, because that’s real! And we need more real in this world. We certainly don’t need any more perfectly manicured instagram accounts.

I don’t need to know how perfect your children are, and while I don’t mind celebrating their achievements with you, the charm and the beauty of life is found in their failures, in our failures, and our ability to learn and grow from those more difficult events.

Our culture is run by social media, which breeds inauthenticity and creates an environment that is hostile to intimacy. Without intimacy there is no real connection, no real relationship, no real love or friendship. We simply have to learn to embrace each others’ imperfections in order to have true relationships.

And lastly, Wabi-Sabi reminds me to be gentle with myself to accept and embrace the flaws. If only my bad hair days were as bad as it ever got. Hahahahaha! As if! When I can embrace others’ imperfections with love and beauty, and I can remember that God is the master who can take the most broken shell of a person and turn her into something magnificent, I can embrace my own imperfections with humility and honesty too.

I can recall that china dish that was severely cracked, but mended with gold. The crack was no longer a weakness or a value-limiting factor, but it becomes the asset, the beautiful bit. What was once a flaw, now made the dish even more valuable than ever. Wabi-sabi makes a flaw into a fashion statement, the very thing that gives that dish its personality and character.

Wabi-Sabi might be being presented as a mere interior design trend, but I think it is so much more. It’s a way of life, a lens with which we can choose to see everything and everyone in the light of God. There in that light, the very things you once considered flaws are no longer ugly. They are statements. They are the very thing God will use to make you a highly valuable treasure.

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