We live in a quaint little house in a beautiful neighborhood with lots of history and big trees. Our house is ‘charming,’ and is probably small enough to be considered a bungalow. So when I say that we live in a charming bungalow, what I mean is that our washer and dryer are where the dining room table would have been before the invention of that technology and there’s really no hiding it. There is also no dishwasher which means that I don’t think our band guys have ever seen my sink without something in it.
It is inevitable that when my home is in its very worst state- when I am thankful that we don’t have children because if CPS were to come they would take them away, when all I want is to go sit somewhere that does not need me to clean it- someone will have to come over for a very important reason. Like. I want to kill myself, can I come to your house?
And while I obviously don’t hesitate to say yes, I hesitate because where can I hide the dirty dishes. I usually have two options in that moment. The first is to say yes, frantically try to restore the house to some semblance of order, flagellate myself for being a horrible wife, and then present my frazzled, crazed self to this person. The second is to say yes, tidy up a little, put some coffee on, light some candles, and hide everything else so I can be in my right mind when they come over.In my better moments, I opt for the second one. In my worse moments, I consider going next door and asking the neighbors if I can bring my dishes over to put in their dishwasher.
So they come over, and we talk and offer snacks and drinks and they probably don’t notice that our dirty laundry is winking at them from behind the piano. And usually, something really beautiful happens in those times where we are vulnerable enough to say “Well, we are messy, but we want you in our life,” because usually they are vulnerable and share their messy life too. It’s a fair trade.
What I’m noticing is that when I’m in that Perfection Mode, when I’m like butter over too much bread, I feel self-sufficient, alone, and a little neurotic. But when I embrace the imperfect, rather than fighting it, I feel whimsical and a little gutsy. I don’t feel like a disappointment.
It seems to me that the Spirit is most comfortable when we are squirmy, untethered, and huddled in the furthest corner from perfect. He waits for our veneers of perfection and order to fall off, and then he comes. He overshadows. We see this in the Incarnation, when Jesus first came to earth. Virgin, unwedded mother. Stable. Feeding trough cradle. Stinky, drooly animals. And then in the midst of all that imperfection- an angel choir, a star, a baby.
He waits for me to quit doing my head-patting, tummy-rubbing tap dance on stilts before He comes, before the symphony.
I have never been told, “Wow! Your house is so clean!” Never. But I have been told many times, “Your house is so homey.” And that’s all I want our house to be. Because in houses where perfection is prized over people, I usually feel like I can’t sit down anywhere so I’m stressed the whole time. But in homes where it’s clear that the house is just a container for some people who really love you and want you there, I could stay for hours.
This extends to worship, as Rob says, when we worship we get to host the presence of God. What kind of hosts are we going to be?
What are those areas where you need to honor the imperfection? Is it in your family? In your holiday preparations? In yourself?
Merriest of Christmases to you all!