Tuesday, February 27, 2007

The real me

Question from yesterday's post:
Do I sometimes seek to create a better impression of myself than is honestly true?

I spent most of a Saturday a couple of weeks ago frantically cleaning my house. And yes, that did mean we were having company. Here's how it goes in my house: I get out the vacuum and my kids ask who's coming over.

I have to tell you, few things make me hate myself like housecleaning. When I finally apply myself to the task, I see what is and what should be and how far short I fall from what should be.

Don't get the wrong idea; our home isn't unsanitary or anything like that. We just have slob-like tendencies. And more often than not, my mind just tends to be occupied elsewhere, anywhere, but housework.

Many years ago, right after my fourth son was born, some friends dropped by to see the new baby. Of course, my house was a wreck; I had a newborn, a two year old, a four year old and a five year old! We had just moved into this house maybe three weeks before the baby was born, so to say things were a mess is probably an understatement. I did what I tend to do when embarrassed; I tried to make light of the situation, attempting some joke about getting a maid. The wife of one my husband's friends completely missed my poor attempt at humor and told me in all seriousness a maid would be a good idea: "She could do your baseboards and deep cleaning so you could do the other."

Okay, to let you know the kind of housekeeper I am, my first thought was, "Do my baseboards? You're supposed to do your baseboards?"

My mom raised me right and taught me the ins and outs of cleaning house. I have (not so very) fond memories of being handed a piece of paper first thing in the morning containing my list of cleaning duties for the day. My problem is not that I don't know how, it just doesn't occur to me to do in the first place. Guess I'm waiting for someone to hand me that piece of paper!

So I spent that particular Saturday frantically trying get my house to look like I am something I am not: a housekeeping and decorating guru. And Sunday morning the Spirit convicted me of my hypocrisy and pride in attempting to present myself as something other than what I am, a better impression of myself than I honestly am.

And can I just openly admit I wasn't just "attempting" to present myself as something other than I am; I was driving myself crazy in my attempt to present myself as something other than I am!

Now, I'm not saying it's wrong to keep a clean house. Or to want to keep an clean house. It's not, of course not. That's crazy! I firmly believe a key part of my call as a stay at home mom includes the maintenance of my home. A part of the call I am (obviously) working out as God works within me.

No, my sin was not in the cleaning itself; it was in the attempt to construct an image that is not the true. I wanted to impress. I wanted to look good. I desired my friends' approval and admiration.

The gospel of the perfection of Lisa.

I do it all the time. My husband and I have some family members who do not know Jesus. In some cases, we have been the only Christians they knew. I would try so hard to be the good Christian girl every opportunity we had to be around them. Invariably, I would, you know, blow it...and then would beat myself up over it. I guess I thought the only way Jesus would appeal to them would be through my perfection. Arrogant, isn't it? In my efforts to be all perfect and holy I was really only glorifying me.

I've asked before: which glorifies God more? "Look at me, don't you wish you could be perfect like me?" Or..."I blew it, I messed up, but my God has grace and mercy to cover my sin and it's only through Him I can do anything anyway..."

I'm no housekeeper. I struggle to serve God's purposes in the maintenance of my home. That's the real me. My God is not glorified in my pretense of perfection, but rather in my honest and humble authenticity.

Am I to strive after a clean house? Am I to strive after holiness? Yes, but for HIS glory, and His alone, not mine...

One of the things I love about God is His masterful use of the ironic twist. See, I knocked myself out and drove myself (and my family) crazy that Saturday a couple of weeks ago with my mad frenzy of housecleaning and picture hanging and all those last minute things we (okay, me) do when we want to impress. Turns out our heat goes defunct and the company we were supposed to have over? the party gets moved to a warmer location. As my youngest son responded to the news (with shock and indignation, I might add): "You mean, we cleaned our room for nuthin'?"


  1. Lisa, you are a writer, girl! You have such a gift for drawing from everyday experiences. Once again, I really enjoyed this post--and once again, challenged to examine myself on similar issues. I appreciate your authenticity--it is so refreshing and encouraging.

    Also, I love God's sense of humor, as well!

  2. You know, I used to be a total freak about having an immaculate house. I had three small children and a spotless house. I was complaining to my mother about how much work it was to keep the house clean, and she said, "Enjoy the mess while you can; someday there will be no one making a mess and you will miss it."

    I've taken that to heart. I admire women who have beautifully decorated, immaculate homes. I don't. It's not dirty or really overly cluttered. My kids' friends are comfortable here, and that's what matters to me.

    I love the results of a clean house, but I also love the other things I do.

    My daughter is a very, very untidy person. This is her motto: "A clean house is the sign of a wasted life." We like to tease her about it.

  3. I've been known to say that I'm fixing my eyes on what's eternal...and dust is not of eternal value! :-)

  4. What's a baseboard?

  5. Those who don't understand this "plague" are still scratching their heads. I, on the other hand, am giving you a virtual "high five" cause I feel your pain--the cleaning and the conviction over perfection!!! Argh! Glad it's GOD who is going to make me perfect cause I'm drivig myself and everyone else crazy over it! Thanks for the honesty.

  6. Just found your blog and LOVE it.
    Thanks for putting the truth out there. I'd love to visit again!

  7. First-time visitor. I relate to this dilemma, but I never, until recently, gave into letting the house "go." What a hard task it is, to keep up appearances with three kids, and the irony is, no one ever comes by--probably because I've talked about how much it stresses me out. You are wise to come to your conclusions at a young age. Life will be easier for you, and probably more meaningful as you focus on authenticity and more important issues. Good post.

  8. From one still struggling with silencing the gospel of the perfection of Rabbit, I HEAR ya, sister!

  9. I have always found it easier to housework for others. I think we can acept each other without a perfectly immaculate house. Life is too short to obsess over house proudness. Somehow doing it for others who are sick or swamped is easier for me. They've been there for me like that too. :)

  10. I know this is an old post but I read it off of your favorites list and I had to comment. The title of your blog is right on...Lisa writes...yes indeed she does. Thank you, I have been blessed by your posts and I'm so glad I clicked onto your blog today.

  11. Another late comment...

    Are you sure you weren't writing about me? :D I know the driving-myself-and-everyone-else-insane-before-visitors-come-over drill. It so isn't worth it, huh?

    Meanwhile, housework remains my achilles heel in life. I grew up in a country where we had house servants...and I was horribly spoiled. One day, in lamenting the lack of fruit in my life in this area, I came across this verse:

    Psa 113:9 He maketh the barren (as in unfruitful...me!) woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children. Praise ye the LORD.

    I'm holding on to that one. :-)