Don’t Wait Until I’m Ready

Messy BedI took a deep breath and pushed the words out of my mouth.

“Do you want to see the rest of the house?”

I didn’t know Susan well, but I had invited her in for a spontaneous cup of coffee without a chance to even try to straighten up. The living room was a wreck – toys and books and crumbs everywhere – and the rest of the house was worse. I had to swallow the impulse to try to explain away the mounds of clothing in the bedrooms and the dishes piled in the sink as I showed off the oddities of one of the quirkiest houses in our community. It rambles and twists like most of it was tacked on as an afterthought, and each turn revealed a little more of my mess. I would like to say this is unusual for me, but it’s not. Recently my friend Carrie told our Bible study group, “My laundry pile was bigger than Beth’s!” (Carrie is the mother of three-year-old quintuplets, by the way. No joke.)

It’s not that I don’t want a clean house. I prefer to have beds made and the table clear and clothes neatly folded in their drawers. I just prefer other things more. Things like playing guitar and working on the set for the high school play and grocery shopping and taking my five-year-old to the playground and walking with friends and cooking and picking gardenias and chasing butterflies and writing and dancing in the living room and walking barefoot in the grass and… and… well, honestly, just about anything other than cleaning. (Side note: I used to blame my daughter’s ADHD on my husband’s side of the family. And then my friend Cathy, a learning assistance teacher, started pointing to certain behaviors of mine as evidence that my daughter had also inherited her ADHD from me. You know, Cathy, I think you might be righ… Oooh, it’s raining! I love rain on a tin roof!)

The reality is that if I waited until my house was clean to invite people in, it would never happen. So, over the years of facing my own weakness in the area of organization, I’ve learned to swing the door wide, pull out the mugs (clean, I promise!), and enjoy my friends. And I’ve never once had someone leave out of disgust over the crumbs under the coffee table.

Giving people access to my messy house is one thing.

Giving them access to my messy self is something else entirely.

The past year has been a difficult one. We’re new to this whole life-on-the-mission-field thing. We’ve been here in Papua New Guinea for fourteen months, which I guess would make us toddler missionaries. That’s certainly what it feels like, at least. We’re inexperienced and off balance, and it feels like we’re spending as much time falling on our faces as we are making slow, wobbly progress forward.

Some of what has happened since we’ve been here has knocked the wind out of me. Some of it has laid me open in ways that I can’t pretend away the sinful flesh that’s still fighting for a strangle hold in parts of me. I’m finding mess around every twist and turn, and it’s awfully tempting just to lock the door so nobody can see.

But the thing is, there are these people. Persistent, grace-filled, gloriously nosy people who want in and aren’t afraid of what they might find. My husband, my family, heart sisters who ask the hard questions and invite me into their own messes without apology. Old friends who see and know and stay. New friends who come with new light and fresh hope.

Don’t wait until I’m ready. Come on in. Sit. Be with me. You are welcome.

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” ~ Eph. 4:2 (NIV)

1 Comment

  1. mary ann
    Mar 16, 2016

    Love these words Beth!!

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