I had a few friends over today. Not really for any purpose, just to get together and enjoy each other's company. I really love this part of my life; the part that gets to entertain, the part that gets to sit back, relax, and have a cup of tea with friends.
I made sure the house was spotless. Okay, I take that back. I made sure the main floor rooms were presentable and not noticeably dirty, and because I didn't have time to clean the rest of the house, I just left it as is. What is your "as is"? Because my "as is" can get kinda...untidy. Bedraggled and grimy, really.
It is not usually my intention to show the worst side of myself, as I doubt it is a side that most people really want to see or know. I'm the same way about my house. I feel like it reflects poorly on me when the dust makes the table that should be a warm walnut look worn and gray, when smudges and fingerprints on the refrigerator show, and the crumbs on the kitchen counter outnumber the crumbs I just put in my mouth (I think that crumbs multiply while I'm not looking. Where do they all come from? Why do they all stay just under the edge of the counter so that just when I think I'm done sweeping, they show themselves like some sort of rebellious hooligans?).
I cleaned. I showered and put my make-up on. I attempted to tame my hair (no such luck there). I organized and swept and made beds and dusted and made sure everything, including my outfit, was perfect.
Unfortunately, perfect is only in a magazine advertisement for cologne.
When my friends got here, they weren't expecting perfect (good thing, because they didn't actually get perfect). Before the day was all said and done, though, they did get to see me. They saw how I hung 12 birthday decorations with double-sided tape to my basement ceiling (not recommended), which promptly all fell down in a heap on the floor (except for the tape, which stuck nicely and is still there). They saw how messy the kids rooms are, plus the playroom, and they saw my son's bathroom ('nuff said there ;)).
Why did I expect perfection when perfection doesn't exist? Why do I hold myself to such a high standard that I get anxious about exposing the real me?
I think people appreciate transparency. They appreciate an open and warm countenance. I know I do. It's hard to get to know someone who keeps a plastic smile on their face and who keeps others at an arms length away. I've been there, and it's an exhausting place to live. I struggle with perfection. It seems so...perfect. Nothing in disarray. Nothing out of place. It's a place of control, of discipline. A place I can admire my togetherness, where I can look with pride upon the perfection I have single-handedly created. But it's a place that breeds anxiety and stress, exhaustion, tension and worry. It's a place I was never meant to be and it's a place I know I don't have to stay.
Sometimes I say things that I wish I had worded differently. Sometimes I show up to my kid's art class with no makeup, fresh (and sweaty) from a gym class. Sometimes I look in the mirror and I don't like what I see. Sometimes I look around my house and wish that I could just keep it together. Sometimes I look at my kids and wish I was a better parent. Are all these things me? Sure, but they don't truly reflect who I am. Untidy house, messy hair, misbehaving kids...my life isn't perfect, no matter how hard I try to make it that way. But I am confident in this: my place of anxiety, stress, tension and exhaustion is a place in the past, because I am a new creation in Christ. The old has passed away, and the new has come. (2 Corinthians 5:17).