Last week my in-laws came for a visit. We hadn’t seen them in months, so this last minute Sunday dinner felt particularly right. “Yes!” my husband and I decided, despite being tired from a grueling week of work. “Why not seize the moment for connection and conversation while we can!”
I’m so glad we did. My in-laws, who tend to be quiet, literally beamed and gushed about how tall the kids grew… how “nice” they were turning out. They allowed our goofy canine to stretch out on the couch next to them – flyaway dog hair be darned – regaling us with stories about how Papa Jay had a loyal pit bull once, too. We bbq-ed burgers and dipped cookies in coffee for dessert while making summer plans. It was restful and restorative – everything a lazy Sunday afternoon should be.
But before the calm, the storm raged.
“Make your bed!” I ordered the kids after church. With only an hour before their arrival, we had to get cracking.
“But it’s Sunday!” they wailed back. “You promised us we could REST on Sunday, just like God!”
“That’s true, but there’s a loophole about your grandparents visiting!” I yelled up the stairs, breaking my own rule about not screaming from one floor to the next.
“What’s a loophole!?” they shouted back.
“It translates in Greek to ‘Start cleaning or I’ll give you more to do!’” I answered them, louder than before.
(See the picture accompanying this article? That’s what my in-law reunion dinner was supposed to look like. Stop scoffing – it’s my fantasy. And look how fab my legs look in that mini dress!)
That kept them quiet for an hour, but my brain wasn’t calm for days.
“I’m annoyed that I get like that,” I revealed to my friend, Tina, during our daily phone session on my way home from work. “I say I want connection more than perfection, and I really mean it, but I still get that nagging voice that wants things to look good.”
“Me thinks me knows why,” she said in her best British accent, “Don’t your in-laws keep a pretty clean home?”
Ouch. She stuck her finger right into the heart of my insecurity.
“They do,” I mused. “But I pride myself at being someone who doesn’t compare herself to others. I am a Christian. It’s who I am on the on inside that matters. It’s not what I do.” To really make my point, I finished with “It’s who I am in God’s eyes, not the world’s, that matters.” She responded as only a good friend can.
“Cut the crap.”
I laughed out loud. She was right.
And yet, readers, isn’t part of being a Christian living above our human tendencies? Aren’t we supposed to be less about people pleasing and fake modes of perfection? Aren’t we to run the race for God, not others? Envy and comparison is never good for one’s soul.
For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.- James 3:16
As looked at other areas of my life, I had to admit that while I wanted to stop comparing myself to others, I was far from actually doing that. What would it take? A strong mind? More church? A six pack of beer each night to calm the spinning brain?
No. The only way to stop comparing myself is to spend time with the one who really cares for me. And so, once again, I started my day with prayer today. I squelched the devil on my shoulder who tried to remind me that ten minutes of Bible reading isn’t really a lot compared to other prayer warriors.
“True,” I said to the nasty little bugger, “Why not invite those prayer warriors to come over and clean my house, do my job, and take my kids to all their after school activities today so I can meditate like a nun at St. Paul’s Abbey?”
That shut him right up. And guess what? In ten minutes time, I felt a little peaceful. Not a bad way to start the week.
Happy Monday, everyone.
Leave a comment: Anyone relate to wanting things to “look good” rather than just enjoying the moment?
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