I pull into the garage and my dog and daughter meet me three steps into the kitchen. “Shhh,” she whispers. “Adrian’s boss is here recording.”
I hear his warm, rich tenor penetrate my disheveled house, and I melt from the beauty of the sound and from the messiness of my house.
I have a valid reason not to get further into the house than the kitchen. I don’t have to face him if I don’t want to, you know, because dinner has to be cooked and the morning dishes and after school snack leftovers await me in the sink and on every counter.
The kitchen alone is appalling.
Instead, I swallow my embarrassment and step into the den, where there are four loads of laundry. Neatly folded, mind you, but splayed unabashed across the love seat and the coffee table nonetheless. Bras, dingy socks, and stringy, eight-year-old towels, most of the cotton fibers long gone.
Please, Lord, let him have entered through the front door.
I round the corner to the piano room and see Eric standing in the corner as if in timeout, singing unreserved into the microphone. Adrian is seated at the desk manning the recording software. I surmise the room. Reagan’s shoes, kicked off, lie haphazardly where they landed in the middle of the floor. A blanket she was reading under two nights ago remained in a heap in the corner. I spy two dirty glasses with a puddle of forgotten milk in the bottom.
I cringe on the inside, ruing the day my children were born. On the outside, I smile at the scene like a Stepford wife for the benefit of Eric, my son’s manager. Inside I’m adding these infractions to my ever-present, ever-growing litany of grievances against my kids.
In the heat of the moment (think blood boiling), I don’t realize that it’s happening again. I am fracturing into two people, diverging into two selves: the one on the outside who dutifully bends her behavior into that which is expected and self-preserving, and the other inside my head that rails at my family’s bad habits and the impossibility of really being that person I portray on the outside.
It’s Thursday — four, maybe five, full days since our last real effort at housekeeping. What was Adrian thinking?! The place is a wreck, evidence of living fast and hard, with all the trappings of a complicated, American lifestyle complete with lots of stuff, mostly not put away.
When Eric finishes singing, I offer him my pinched, plastic smile. I am humiliated. My home betrays me. It says I was not prepared for company and so much more.
What I should have done was genuinely mean it when I said, “Welcome, Eric.” Because I know God makes up what I lack if I let him. If I’m not held captive by what others think. If I’m not dividing myself into an acceptable outer layer that conceals the ugly truth beneath: that I’m not perfect.
God perfects us, and we are to rest confidently in that always, even when breakfast is still in the sink and people catch us at our worst. Maybe especially then.
Dawn González is a writer, bible teacher, speaker, and pastor’s wife. She co-founded Columbia World Outreach Church in Columbia, South Carolina with her husband Mike. She contributes to various magazines and websites with features online at TheHighCalling.org, incourage.me and LacedWithGrace.com. Connect with Dawn on her blog, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram where you can find more of her imperfect days on display.