When it comes to housekeeping, I am a domestic Pharisee. Keeping the outside of the dish clean. Making sure the living room is presentable for guests. Keeping the dining table clear when it’s not in use. Posting only what is nice online.
Piling all the unsorted, unorganized mess in the bedroom, where I can close the door–and lock it if I need to–against visitors who might wander too deep and see too much.
It’s an easy way to make people think you have it all together. They aren’t likely to open cupboards or look behind seldom-moved pieces of furniture.
“You’re so organised!” they exclaim with amazement. They don’t know how wardrobes are falling apart on the inside. How water is leaking somewhere under the pristine countertop and causing fungus to grow. How the damp and dark places are seldom exposed to the light, how the falling down things are never reinforced and maintained to keep them going longer.
They don’t know and although I feign humility, I don’t open the mouldy cupboards for them to see the truth.
As much as I am trying to find a place for everything and put everything in it’s place, the fact is: the cupboards are full. The handed down clothes that the children can’t wear yet sit in a bag in the corner.
Matthew 23: 25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. 26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.
Now, I am a born-again, God-fearing, Bible-thumping Evangelical Christian. I’ve read all the right books, been on the craziest mission trips, had all the best training (and I bless InterVarsity Christian Fellowship for setting me on the road to growth and learning). To top it all off, I homeschool my children, teach Sunday school, and lead a cell group. My Christian resume is superb. It’s all beautiful on the outside–most of the time.
One day the outer veneer began to wear thin. I was doing my best to keep up appearances. But she saw right through it. She didn’t confront me right away. How could she? I only see her a few times a year. She’s a fellow homeschool mom but we have very different lifestyles and methods although we are both committed to Jesus and to homeschooling. She waited 3 days and she knew she had to do it. She sent me a text and said she couldn’t get me off her mind….that she sensed a lot of anger, bitterness, and frustration in me. She offered empathy and prayers and one last exhortation: “Keep your focus right, sister.”
“Ouch” is too mild a word but I can’t spell the kind of gut-wrenching pain I felt when I read her message. First it was the pain of vulnerability–she (by the Holy Spirit) had seen through my activities that evening to my heart…and what she saw was not pretty. I panicked. I wanted to defend myself, to find a way to cover up the filthy interior that she had glimpsed…but I knew I couldn’t. I began to come clean. To confess to a few dear friends who put up with me on a regular basis.
You see, FOCUS was the word I had chosen as my theme for the year. I was three months into the year and severe myopia had already set in. At 8 months in now I feel the lenses are outdated again. So I am starting to write. It is one of the things I know I am to do to help keep my focus right and to help regularly cleanse the inside of the dish. I am sure I will stumble and fall. And I am just as sure that He will lovingly cushion my fall with Grace, correct my vision and set my focus right again.