“Where do you live?”, asked the girl from the broken home that always seemed to have too much on her mind. I responded with a general location.
“No, I mean where do you LIVE? What is your house like? When I think about your house I always imagine that it’s big and white, with a big TV and a comfy couch. You know, cozy, like you guys are”.
Surprised that anyone had put thought into our house I said, “Well it’s small, really small, so I guess that makes it cozy. Our couch is lumpy and it’s hard to hear the TV over the dog snoring”.
She giggled, “So, it’s just normal”?
“Yep, it’s really nothing special”.
She looked down at the grass by her legs and picked at the green blades searching for the perfect one to tear in half. After a minute she looked at me and said, “No, it’s special, really special.” And then she ran off to join the other kids.
I sat there, stunned by the words cozy and special. When we arrived home the kids dropped their belongings in a heap on the floor as they raced to the trampoline in the backyard, the dog happily trailing behind. My husband wandered out to the shop to stare at things, or kick tires, or whatever it is one does in a shop. And I stood there surveying our house that I always thought was too small, still turning the words cozy and special over in my mind.
I stared at the laundry that never stayed done and the breakfast dishes still in the sink. I stared at the lumpy couch with the fat cat snoozing on it. I stared at the piles of books everywhere, the resulting clutter of a houseful of readers, and my eyes paused on the marriage books on our night stands. The ones recommended by our counselor because our marriage was currently in deep waters.
We were two broken people determined to take a whole lot of mess and turn it into something special but completely lacking the know-how. I thought about when we were homeschooling, and I expressed concern to a friend over not knowing what I was doing, and she told me, “You just have to show up and God will do the rest”. Maybe I was focusing on the wrong things? Maybe the special was in the showing up? Maybe my constant pursuit of perfect had blind me to the special that was already there. Maybe imperfect was where it was at?
God took our feeble attempts at showing up – the thrown together dinners on paper plates, the pause when I was at the end of my rope, the two reluctant people that showed up for marriage counseling because we both realized we were five and not just two, the family busyness, the overall imperfect – and he filled in the cracks, and the crevices, and the craters and made our brokenness whole, special even.
The girl didn’t see our imperfections. She saw two parents that tried, she saw a big sister that found her brother each morning on the playground because she knew his shoes would be untied, she saw the fist bumps and the hugs and the laughter, she saw our everyday imperfect and it WAS special. My attitude of scarcity wasn’t the result of a lack of perfect like I thought it was, it was the result of choosing not to see the abundance God created from our imperfect.
Maybe this morning you don’t need a bigger house, or a comfier couch, or a different spouse. Maybe you just need to pause and notice the everyday special.