The other day I was outside chatting with a couple of my neighbors, all of us stay at home moms. When stay at home moms get together, we tend to chat about one of two things: our kids or the lamentable state of our homes. On this occasion we discussed the latter. One friend spoke of washing her windows and her ceiling fans. In the same day. That very day we were standing in my backyard talking. The other friend confessed to being unable to stand dirty windows, and wished she could only get around to vacuuming out her van. Both neighbors agreed they planned to mow that day or the next.
I went inside.
I am no housekeeper, not in the least. I have tried to spiritualize my lack of domestic achievements by claiming I am fixing my eyes on what’s eternal (2 Cor. 4:18), and neither dust nor the rings in my toilet are eternal. (Are they?)
But I left the conversation with my neighbor friends terribly discouraged and absolutely convinced that I was the worst housekeeper ever, the worst mother ever, the most worthless, horrible excuse for a stay at home mom in the history of stay at home moms. I totally hated myself. I had compared myself to them, found myself different, and saw it as lack. We women do it all the time: I am insecure about myself, I compare myself to so-and-so, and end up despising myself.
Or, sometimes I compare myself to so-and-so-number-two, and instead of feeling worse about myself, decide that, next to her, I’m pretty good, and suddenly I’m all puffed up with my own self-righteousness.
Both are deadly. Whether I am consumed with how horrible I am, or consumed with how much better I am, I am still consumed with ME. There’s one word for that: PRIDE.
And it all began with comparison borne of insecurity.
I was insecure–wait, who am I kidding? I am insecure because I equate my significance with what I do: I don’t do windows and it never occurs to me to clean my ceiling fans nor vacuum my van, therefore I must be worthless and insignificant. While it certainly does matter that I maintain my home with some semblance of order (and please don’t get the wrong idea, it may be chaos, but it’s not unsanitary!)…my worth is not found in my housekeeping skills, nor my blogging skills, nor how well I taught Bible study last week.
God has called my neighbor friends to maintain their homes with a certain degree of excellence and I applaud that. He has called me, well, to something different, but not necessarily less. I am not significant because of what I do (or don’t do for that matter). My significance lies not in my self-worth nor my self-esteem. I am full enough of myself as it is. My significance is in God. As John Piper says in Taste and See:
“the preciousness of knowing God and mirroring him well enough by my delight in him that others can see his worth in me and join me in enjoying him. Now that would be real significance!”
As much as I may sometimes wish I were, I am not my friends. Perhaps one day some of their housekeeping skills will rub off on me. Whether I become a domestic diva or not, it matters little. What matters is that whatever He calls me to do, I “do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31), delighting in Him so that others can see His worth, not mine.