Monday, June 15, 2009

Keeping Up Appearances

Our realtor, Jane, came to take photographs of the house last Thursday. After she left, I was walking around the house enjoying the once-in-a-blue-moon-ness of our house being ultra clean. It used to really shine BK (Before Kids), but now I'm happy if the dishes are washed, beds are made and the laundry is (mostly) done. Really, our house looked almost foreign to me. We've removed a few pieces of furniture to make things a little less cluttered and we've already started the lengthy process of sorting our stuff into three piles: keep, donate, pitch. I'd like to argue there should be another category: where did this come from?

One of the challenges of putting our house on the market is being prepared for others to see our house at a moment's notice. I can pull the house together well for a planned birthday party or a planned sleepover, but this spur-of-the-moment thing is a stretch for me. I mean I need time to hide things.

When the photos appeared online late Friday night I had the sense I was looking at someone else's house (and let's be honest, I really want this to be someone else's house very soon!). Where were all the toys and books and papers and crayons and mess that follows our family wherever we go? I suppose that's all part of the strategy of marketing our home to another family--make the house feel warm, inviting, clean, but impersonal.

I do that spiritually, too. On the outside, I want to present a good impression. I'm a super mom who has it all together. I'm a good wife, daughter, friend. I love Jesus. I cook, I clean, I sew, I launder, I teach, I pray. I'm the whole package. But those are the planned moments. There are other moments--when my kids are arguing through the entire grocery store culminating in me stomping my foot at them just as our pastor's wife rounds the corner. Or, when I say something harsh and argumentative to my husband not realizing he's got a young woman on the phone holding for me--the same young woman I've been giving marriage counseling to for weeks. Or, when after my friend listens to my newest diatribe on diapers and fabric softener for 30 minutes, she mentions casually that she's struggling spiritually and I realize I've just wasted all the time we both have talking about nonsense. My outward appearance doesn't match the inner heart. And it's grieving. Grieving because it isn't a reflection of Jesus but a reflection of a false image--really a false god, the god of self.

I want to work on that. Check that-- I want God to work on that in me. I want my outside to match my inside, even if it means not measuring up to anyone else's standards. Even if it means sacrificing the appearance I've worked hard to present. Especially if it means that Christ becomes greater and I become smaller.

Lord, help me to be more like you. Change me. Really, I'm begging You to change me. Conform me into Your likeness and image--into a loving, caring, Christ-sharing person. Into who and what You have planned for me to be. Forgive me for my selfishness. Forgive me for my carelessness. Forgive me for worshipping myself instead of You. Change my heart, oh God, and renew a right spirit within me. In Jesus' Name, Amen.