My husband and I have been attending a new church for about a year now and are part of a small group that meets every other week for Bible study. A couple of weeks back, despite just having had our second child, we offered to host the study at our house. In the midst of the chaos of mothering two little ones (21 months and 4 weeks old), I scrambled around tidying, cleaning and ensuring that our house looked its very best. I found myself feeling overwhelmed by the daunting task of whipping our house into shape, and frustrated that my small children couldn’t understand my desire to have a clean house and still demanded that I feed them, play with them, and entertain them. When my husband came home from work, I shared with him the list of things that still needed to be done, handed him the baby and set to work. I made the beds and got on my hands and knees and scrubbed the bathroom until it shined. With five minutes to spare, the house was, by my standards, clean enough to entertain our guests.
About two minutes before our guests were scheduled to arrive, I went to the bathroom to fix my makeup. That’s when I saw it. A booger the size of a dime and the color of a green highlighter stuck on the wall, in full view as one enters the bathroom. I heard the doorbell ring and instantly panicked. Quickly shutting the bathroom door and hoping that my husband would let our guests in or they would simply think we weren’t home and leave, I grabbed a wet cloth and began scrubbing the wall. The booger would not budge! I continued to scrub, but to no avail – that booger (who knows how long it had been there?) was not going anywhere.
As I continued to scrub and my fingers turned an ugly shade of red, my shoulders dropped and I began to weep. A whole day of preparation while listening to my oldest daughter cry out for mommy to play with her; hours of physical labor pressed on me just weeks after bringing a baby into the world, not by anyone else but myself; and now moments spent alone on a bathroom floor feeling like a failure because of this remnant of imperfection.
As I cried, I could hear laughter emanating from downstairs. Our friends talking to one another, catching up on life’s newest while my oldest daughter excitedly welcomed all who entered our home. And I began to wonder: Is it worth it? The time spent keeping up the facade that we are people who have everything under control and the belief that this is reflected by the cleanliness of our home has created needless anxiety and stress and robbed me of the very things I long for most – acceptance and love. While I busied myself cleaning our house in the hope that others might see it and think, “Wow! How does she do it all, mother two little ones and keep the house so clean? How impressive!” I lost sight of the fact that God’s love for me far surpasses the acceptance shown to me by those I was so desperately trying to please. And in the midst of trying to convey the happiness of our family and cleanliness of our house, I made my kids miserable for a day and the booger continued to stare at me from its secure place on the wall.
In that moment, I knew I needed to make a decision. I could sit alone on the bathroom floor while our guests enjoyed each other’s company downstairs and continue in my efforts to remove the stubborn booger from the wall, or I could drop the cloth, join in the fellowship of imperfect people, and allow God’s grace to wash over me. I chose the latter.
It is my prayer for you that when you are faced with boogers on the wall, you will stop pursuing worldly love and acceptance and focus your heart on the grace that covers us all.