Several years ago we had our house listed for sale with a real estate company. Now, there?s something about having people examine my home that consumes me with instant panic. It compels me to begin frantically cleaning and scrubbing every nook and cranny.
Of course, I?m more concerned about what these strangers will think about me than having the house appeal to a prospective buyer. I want to portray a domain where there are no dirty dishes, no soiled clothes, and no magazine-strewn surfaces, a place where my children never throw their dirty clothes on the floor.
?Mom, why are my clothes stuffed into my suitcase?? my teenage son asked after he arrived home one day. ?Are you trying to tell me something??
?I?m trying to tell you that someone came to see the house, so I stuffed everything on the floor into your suitcase.?
An ideal home would also have the aroma of baked goods emanating from the kitchen. One morning found me busily baking a cake, and soon an aroma was wafting forth from the depths of the oven. Unfortunately, it was accompanied by billows of smoke. The cake proceeded to swell and spill over the sides of the pan like some volcanic eruption. Huge gobs of dough dropped like bombs hitting their target?the oven element. Fortunately, the flames were small, and I could easily extinguish them.
But just then my glasses picked this inopportune time to break, and one lens popped out, falling into the hot oven. As quickly as I could, I rescued it before it could melt into the size of a contact lens.
It was at this precise moment that a knock sounded at the front door. Moving stealthily through the clouds of smoke, I managed to find the doorknob. Opening the door, I saw two very unfamiliar faces.
?We were driving by and noticed that your house is for sale,? the woman explained. ?Would you mind if we came in and had a look??
Perhaps it was the stunned look on my face and the odd way my mouth hung open. Or it could have been the peculiar one-lensed, broken-framed glasses perched on my nose. Or maybe it was the smoke billowing out the front door. Whatever the reason, the couple paused before asking, ?Is this a good time??
?Oh, well,? I said, ?come on in!?
When I related the story to my mom, she declared, ?I would have told them to come back another day!?
I?m not quite sure why I didn?t. Maybe I?m tired of putting on pretenses, of hiding my dirty laundry?and burned food.
Hide and seek
That?s about the time I remembered another incident. It was right after I?d had an argument with my husband. Being the very spiritual woman that I am, I rushed off to think and pray at the only logical place?the mall. While the steam was still pouring out of my ears, I encountered a dear friend.
?How are you?? she asked.
?Good,? I lied.
She plopped her hands on her hips and said, ?Well, I?m not! My husband and I just had a huge fight!?
Oh, Lord, she probably wants advice. Why me? Why now? I thought.
?He puts on this face for the people at church, but he?s a totally different man at home,? she shared, her eyes beginning to tear up. ?We just finished taking that marriage Bible study, too. Things were going so well, and then, bang! Two weeks after the Bible study is over, all hell breaks loose!?
I reached over and gave her what seemed to me a very mechanical hug. Lord, give me wisdom to share with her, I prayed.
I took a deep breath, exhaled, and opened my mouth. ?You know, honey, your husband is not your enemy. And it?s probably no coincidence that there?s trouble shortly after you?ve both become closer during a Bible study about marriage. You do have an enemy?Satan?and he loves to encourage strife and division in marriages. Believe me, I know! Just grab hold of your husband?s hand and pray together before you respond to strife.?
A few minutes later she was thanking me for my wise words and hugging me, and all the while I had been talking to myself! I hadn?t been willing to come clean, to allow my friend to have a look inside my less-than-perfect life. Yet Jesus brought my friend across my path. He knew another way to reach inside my heart.
?Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me? (Revelation 3:20, KJV).
So often Jesus comes knocking at the door of my heart. Most of the time He uses people to knock at the door for Him. All I have to do is humble myself enough to allow them into my sometimes messy life.
Joan Janzen is a freelance writer in Saskatchewan, Canada.