This is how I imagine my kitchen to be:
Serene, beautiful, spotless. Could be on the cover or a feature story of “Real Simple.” The countertops gleam; all dishes are put away; there are matching Method hand soap and dish soap containers; and the lit candle signals that it smells as nice as it looks.
Instead, this is the typical end-of-the-evening scene in my kitchen:
There’s quite a gap between “ideal” and “real.” To be honest, this particular gap doesn’t really bother me that much because I know it’s only a matter of about 30 minutes before the dishes will be put away and it will at least *look* clean even if it doesn’t smell clean or gleam radiantly. These photos illustrate a deeper gap I wrestle with almost daily. I know that I am not alone in this, because I’ve talked to many of you about it and read your blogs where you also honestly wrestle through the gap. The gap between who you want to be – “ideal you” – and who you really are day-to-day.
In a conversation with my mom last week, she was telling me about a book she’s read lately in which the thesis is, “We all feel like we need to be perfect like everyone else because we compare our insides to their outsides.” Meaning that you don’t see me yelling at my kids and berating them to get dressed with proper shoes (slippers don’t count) and use the bathroom and get buckled into their car seats and etc etc … before you see us walk into the grocery store all smiles, me holding each of their hands. Nor do I see your inward struggle with what to wear and does your hair look ok and what about this makeup and do these earrings really match. I simply see the beautiful well-dressed woman who walks into church with confidence and style, leading her equally well-dressed and smiling children behind her. And I’m intimidated by you. I feel less than.
I care so much because it could be that your image gives a picture to the ideal in my head. The who-I-want-to-be-but-feel-like-I’ll-never-be. Emily Freeman in Grace for the Good Girl describes it like this:
I am struck by how I have lived in a constant state of high expectation. I compared my current life to the one I thought I would be living.
What do we do with this? First of all, I mind the gap. I remember that my ideal self and who God created me to be are two different people. And who God wants me to be is who HE is making me to be as Jesus’ life overflows through mine. Which includes me being honest about weaknesses and struggle and confessing and repenting of sin. Secondly, I remember that you’re real, too. So I don’t envy you or judge you or distance myself from you because you seem perfect in ways I’ll never be. I befriend you, because you need friends, too, and you have messy places just like I do. I ask how you’re doing, and really listen. I don’t force honesty, but I offer you the real version of me – hoping that will invite you to do the same in case you’re also feeling suffocated and in need of the space to be real as well.