Her House, My House

Every room in her house could be featured in Better Homes & Gardens in an article entitled “Pinterest Meets Reality.”

My kids, however, are randomly inspired to create art projects with shreds of paper, sparkles of glitter, dots of glue and Popsicle sticks, so my house hovers under a perpetual cloud of sparkles and the art work generally involves hand prints.

Cleaning her house probably means dusting the magazines.

Cleaning my house involves wiping down fingerprints from walls and scrubbing toothpaste splatter from inside the sink and all around the bathroom counter twice every day.

My furniture is worn and stained and scratched to shreds by cats.  My floors could be an archeologist’s dream—the interpretation of an ancient artifact to determine what every stain and tear reveals about its history.

She had collectibles and antiques.

I have toy bins, overflowing bookshelves, and craft supply buckets.

She had perfectly matching, expensive China dishes for entertaining.

I have a mishmash of plastic princess bowls, fairy mugs, cartoon character cups, and bent silverware.

When she needed to find something, it took her less than a minute to pull it from the appropriate folder.

Ask me for a particular piece of paper and it will take me two days of alternating frantic searches with desperate prayers for God to help save my sanity before I (maybe) can find it in the one place I never thought I would put it….ever…but probably seemed like such a safe spot at the time.

I have kids, three of them, what can I say?  I live a slightly disheveled life in a perpetually imperfect house.

And as much as I feel like “just a mom,” more than slightly nervous sitting in her Ethan Allen furniture surrounded by breakable objects, still I know that we aren’t better/worse or right/wrong.

We aren’t in competition and we don’t need to be the same.

I reminded myself all that day, after I returned home and spotted the streaks on the dining room windows and the smudges on the refrigerator door handles, as I sighed over the clothes that needed sorting and the school papers on my counter: I’m happy to be a mom.

And I am.

I might have slight twangs of jealousy over exotic vacations and perfect hair-styles, designer outfits and picture-perfect houses.

I might feel awkward and out of place in discussions about career success, financial affluence, and the three fancy restaurants others ate at just this past week.

But these three daughters of mine, this precious family, this messy home where we live this busy-crazy-funny-life of love and seeking God, is a gift.

And while I’m worrying over my life and feeling “less than,” maybe she’s looking over the grassgreenerfence of her own yard and thinking my grass looks slightly greener.

The world shoves arbitrary standards of success on us, labels we attach to our foreheads, categories we sort women into (working and stay-at-home), and hierarchies of value.

And the thing about God is that He isn’t interested in any of it.  He’s utterly uninfluenced by the way we determine “success” or “failure.”

He’s got a way of turning all these systems of judgment upside down.  Like how He uses the least of these or blesses the poor and gives the Kingdom to the meek.  Or how He gives the foolish understanding and defies the analysis of the self-declared “wise.”

That’s why Jacob, an aged man who raised sheep and unruly sons, stood in Egypt before the throne of mighty Pharaoh and “Jacob blessed Pharaoh again before leaving his court” (Genesis 47:10).

Pharaoh could raise a mighty army, commission massive pyramids, and alter the economy of the known world.

But Jacob closed tired eyes and prayed a blessing over a king.

We compare bank accounts, careers, clean houses, decorating skill, cake-baking ability, creativity with crafts, personal style, husbands and kids, haircuts, parenting choices, churches, ministries, Pinterest and Twitter followers, Facebook fans, and blog subscribers.

Yet, all that pressure you feel to be the same as her, to achieve as much, to own as much, to be gifted in the same way and called to do the same thing—that breath-stealing stress isn’t from God.

God is just looking to see if we’re obeying what He asked us to do.  Just as Paul commissioned Timothy, so God asks us to “fully carry out the ministry God has given you” (2 Timothy 4:5).

Not her ministry or her calling or God’s will for her or her gifting or her family or career or home…No, the one God has given you.

Just breathe.  Just serve.  Just minister.  Here and now and today and tomorrow, carry out this ministry un-distracted and unhindered by endless comparisons and value judgments.

And then let her do the same thing.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  Her upcoming book, Ask Me Anything, Lord: Opening Our Hearts to God’s Questions, will be released in November 2013!  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2013 Heather King