"To all perfection I see a limit; but your commands are boundless."
Psalm 119:96 (NIV)
Have you ever been caught unaware by a visitor to your front door when your house was sporting that "lived-in" look? I have. I wish I was more like my mother-in-law, who never has anything out of place. But I am not. Never have been, never will be. While I do not want to live in filth, housework is definitely NOT my first priority.
Holly and our Bible study group have laughed over the fact that the first thing some of us do is start apologizing for the dirty dishes in the sink, the craft materials on the table, and the Cheerios on the floor. We act as though that is not the normal state of our homes most of the time. With children, it is almost impossible to have no mess. But I clean like a crazy woman for company (expected company!) to get my house looking like it is in a perpetually perfect state. It is only when others are in my house that my house has a manageable amount of laundry, vacuumed carpets (with the lines in them!), and floors that someone could eat off of.
Holly read to us from one of her favorite authors who refuses to make apologies for her messes to unannounced guests. Instead, she says, "Welcome to my home where there is evidence of life." I have found that my mothering demands my time to be spent with my children, not the cobwebs. A secure child does not just happen. It means that though the dishes are screaming at me, when my eight-year-old says, "Mommy, will you read to me," that I need to let that unsightly pile stay in the sink a little longer. Jenna will one day leave my nest. I'll have all the time in the world to do housework then, but her voice will never sound like an eight-year-old's voice after this year. My almost eleven-year-old Jordyn needs me to answer those puzzling questions about hurts and attitudes at school now, not when the never-ending laundry is done. She is looking more like a young woman than a child everyday. And my almost twelve-year-old son needs to feel loved by my listening to him in the dark when he feels comfortable telling me things that don't require eye contact.
I find that I try to pretend my life is perfect, just like I try to pretend my house is perfect, to others. You know what? Jesus is not interested in a perfect life. He knows I can never achieve perfection this side of eternity. It doesn't give me an excuse to not pursue holiness in my life, but my messes are evidence of life on this planet earth. Girlfriends, life is messy! We can play the absolutely exhausting game of pretending that we have it altogether, or we can live and learn from our mistakes and share part of His glory doing it that way. He does not condemn us. He welcomes us, broken people that we are.
Next time the enemy says, "What a mess," let's tell him that we do not apologize for that. Instead, let's tell him that our God is big enough to clean up any mess that we might have made and that we can't wait to see how He is going to do it. That's evidence of life and the miracle of the God of wonders that we belong to!
Jesus, thank You that You are my perfection. Thank You that You are able to handle any mess, no matter how awful it is, in my life. Save me from the exhausting isolation of thinking I have to have it altogether to be worthy. My worth is found in You and Your ability to clean up any mess I have made.