I was at Disneyland with my wife a few weeks ago and while we were walking through a shop I saw some items from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. One of the items was Chip, the little boy teacup who was Mrs Pott’s son in the animated film. He, along with the other characters, were humans who lived and worked in the Beast’s castle. When a curse was put onto the castle they transformed into objects like clock, a candle, or a teapot. What is characteristic of Chip is that he is a teacup that has a chip taken out of one side. And it’s no surprise that Disney includes this characteristic detail in their Chip merchandise.
The chip in Chip is likely due to the fact that as a human boy he had a missing tooth (which appears as a chip when he becomes a teacup), but what struck me is how the chip represents imperfection. Most of us would get rid of a teacup or glass that has a chip in it, yet in Beauty and the Beast, the character Chip has value and exudes joy and love. The chip in his side is just part of who he is. It doesn’t make him useless as a teacup.
If you’re like me, you struggle with your imperfections, things that you can’t always shake because they’re so much a part of your personality; they’re part of who you are. If you’re familiar with the Enneagram personality model you’ll know it’s based on our tendency toward a core sin that, while its energy can be used for good, typically becomes a compulsion. As an Eight on the Enneagram I have the drive to fight for injustice, a desire to give a voice to the voiceless, and to try to make things right. The tendency however is to become combative, domineering, and intense. This aspect of who I am is my own chip, my own imperfection. Over the years I’ve tried to “get rid of” this imperfection and wish my personality were different. The truth is, while the imperfection of the Eight (or any of the personality flaws discovered through the Enneagram) can be negative and unproductive, their energy can be directed toward creating good and positive change.
Chip didn’t let his imperfection prevent him from being who he was: a teacup. In fact, it’s his chip that makes him unique. I especially discovered this truth in my relationship with my wife. She doesn’t only love me despite my imperfections; she loves me for them. My quirks make me who I am. She knows I’m constantly striving to use the chips I have for good. The extraordinary thing about our paradoxical God is that brokenness often becomes a source for good. Christ’s brokenness on the cross was used to save us from sin. Saint Paul’s years of persecuting was transformed into missionary service. Saint Ignatius’ shattered knee would move him to change his life.
The communion of saints is filled with Chips, unique women and men whose imperfections and experiences of brokenness would become sources of transformation and love. We can all learn a lesson from Beauty and the Beast’s little teacup. Whether our chips and nicks are part of our personality or our life experiences, we can’t get rid of them. They are part of who we are, and God is calling us to examine them, hold them up in prayer, and let them become sources of growth and love.
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Music by Kevin MacLeod