April 6, 2018

It’s All Good / Patti Lamb

Remember, God loves us despite the messiness in our lives

Patti LambI almost missed my deadline for this column because I’ve been busy pretending.

I should probably explain what I mean.

We recently put our house up for sale, and while we’re grateful to have showings, we must be ready at a moment’s notice to have potential buyers traipse through our house, open our closets and examine our lifestyle.

Ever since putting our home on the market, it seems we’ve been pretending—like we don’t actually live here—as if no kids, no dog and no family ever made a home between these walls. From the day we put that “for sale” sign in the ground, I’ve been maniacally dusting, vacuuming and purchasing fresh flowers so that the house is inviting and “move-in ready.”

Then I had a morning encounter which helped me to gain perspective. I entered the kitchen to find our 10-year-old eating a Pop Tart as she twirled around the kitchen.

“What are you doing?” I demanded to know.

“Eating breakfast,” she calmly answered.

“In the kitchen?” I questioned.

She stated that’s where she usually eats breakfast.

“In the same kitchen that I just scrubbed and mopped and detailed the baseboards?” I continued.

That’s when I came unglued at the crumbs all over the floor and banished her to the garage.

“But it’s freezing out there,” she complained, and I told her to grab her coat and finish breakfast in the garage.

When I got down on my knees to pick up the crumbs, I looked up to see her standing outside the kitchen door, waving and mouthing the word “sorry.”

That morning, I realized how exhausting it is to pretend and how much it drains me of mental energy. I’ve been hiding behind bricks and gleaming hardwood and carefully placed throw pillows. I’ve not been my best self, and I’m trading my family time for the illusion of a perfect home.

Last weekend, many of us Catholics got all dressed up and went to church on Easter Sunday. We renewed our baptismal promises, and we probably looked pretty upright and impressive.

But behind our fancy church clothes and perfect posture during Mass, God knows who we truly are and loves us anyway. We are imperfect, and we are sinners. We mess up and begin again, but I believe all God asks is that we keep returning to him.

It gives me some peace that Jesus didn’t pick the perfect cast of characters to be his ambassadors. Peter, the rock on which Jesus built his Church, was the same one who denied him three times. But Jesus shows redemptive love when, after the resurrection, he gives Peter three chances to affirm his love. (Jn 21:15-19)

Jesus, in his humanity, understood the intimacy of human friendship. He accepted that people are real and imperfect, and that we’d sometimes disappoint. But genuine love, love that we truly keep working at, transcends the messiness of life and is forgiving and renews itself. I think that’s the kind of love we are called to with God.

God doesn’t ask us to be perfect, but he asks us to be our real selves and invites us to a relationship with him. Selling our home has shown me that chasing perfection gets me nowhere. So I’m trying to choose genuine over perfect, and overlook a few Pop Tart crumbs and mismatched towels, which some prospective buyer might frown upon. But that’s OK.

I saw a great T-shirt at a boutique recently. It said: “Messy house. Jesus loves me anyway.”


(Patti Lamb, a member of St. Susanna Parish in Plainfield, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.)

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