This post is written by contributing writer, Jen from This Gal’s Journey.
My stomach dropped as I read her text and took a 180 glance around my kitchen. The sink stacked high with
last night’s dinner all of yesterday’s meal dishes, crumbs of every kind scattered all over the floor, the table half sticky with maple syrup, half stacked high with books, papers and junk mail. The baby is still in his jammies – and he just ate lunch, most of which is smeared all over his face. Trash cans overflowing, laundry room busting at the seams. My house, my kids, and myself at our very worst.
I’m tempted to politely decline. Or at the very least ask her to give me an hour – or three. Tea time and crummy floors? Yet I find myself returning text:
Sure, no problem! Kettle’s on, see you soon!
Oi vey, she’s not going to want to step one foot in here. I do what I can to minimize ground zero and clear enough space for us to sit, drink tea, and talk. She stayed for 2 hours pouring her heart out. In the end, neither of us noticed the mess. All we remember now is the friendship, the tears, and the closeness that day brought.
I can’t tell you how many times as I’m hustling and bustling and
drill-sergeant-commanding lovingly guiding our kids to clean up the house, someone inevitably asks, “Who’s coming over, Mom?”
Now, granted, I could stand to do a better job of keeping house, and teaching my kiddos to respect and care for their belongings and environment. But what struck me recently was the air of perfection I was inadvertently teaching my kids to expect – of themselves and others. Of putting up an image that might be less than true.
Sharing real life, and real faith, is messy. It’s very rarely clear-cut and precise. It comes at inconvenient times. Much like the tummy-bug-from-Hades, or those ever anticipated first pains of child birth, emotional traumas, tragedies and human need for instant community rarely fall between business hours.
I want to teach – and model – a balance for my children. To teach them to care for themselves, their home, and their family; to teach them to put their best foot forward and make their best effort in every thing they do. However, I want them not to be paralyzed by perfectionism when it comes to opening their homes, and hearts, to those truly in need – both physical and emotional need.
There are times when we need to leave the laundry, forget the dishes and just love those around us – sometimes one of “those” is our kids! Sometimes we need to set our own pride and image-ego aside to lend a listening ear, a shoulder on which to cry, and hands to hug or make tea.
If we are going to truly share life with others, to truly live in community, we need to be willing to shed our I-have-it-all-together image and be willing to let others see the not so lovely parts. And you know what usually happens? They are so relieved to see that we’re human too, it only serves to deepen the bond and community warmth. So when the next crisis comes, the foundation is that much stronger upon which we continue to build. And if we base that foundation on the Chief Cornerstone – Jesus – there’s no stronger place to be.
So, join me in letting the pretense go, being real, and opening our homes and hearts to those around us. And in doing so, we’ll be teaching our children how to be the Hands and Feet of God – a tangible expression of His love for us all.