A friend of mine gave me a gift recently.
It wasn’t wrapped, and it wasn’t even my birthday.
Now before I tell you what she gave me, you should know… this girl’s got it together. She’s always been a little better at this whole life business than me. She nurses her babies into toddlerhood. She sews them adorable outfits and cooks healthy, amazing meals with seemingly little effort. She balances two babies on her hip while teaching her daughters fractions and ancient history. She paints rooms and builds furniture and plants gardens and knits scarves in her spare time. And she’s sweet…and funny… and pretty…and gracious.
I don’t see her often enough, as she lives in another state, but we passed through her town on the way from
to . They’re in a bit of a transition, like we
are, and have 4 young children living in a 2-bedroom apartment, but her and her
husband offered to let us stay the night anyway and cooked us dinner, then
booted her own babies out of their beds so we could get a comfy night’s rest. Oregon
We arrived after the third day of 12 hours of straight driving. We were travel-weary and probably smelled like sweat and Taco Bell, but she threw her arms around us and welcomed us in.
She was wearing sweat pants, which was wonderful because I was too and I just didn’t have it in me to dress like a human being for dinner that night. The kids’ bedroom was a happy jumble of toys and blankets and blocks and dress-up clothes and magic wands. Books and papers piled willy-nilly around the living room. Dinner took longer than expected, and the bathtub cleaner sat beside the tub with a rag that hadn’t been used. The bathroom was out of toilet paper, and the only hand-towel was tied around a 2-year-old’s neck, cape style, as he and Caleb and Buzz Lightyear all saved the world from the evil Emperor Zurg.
We laughed. We ate bruschetta by the pound. My son dumped spaghetti on the couch while hers threw it on the floor. We laughed harder and the kids laughed too. She left the dirty dishes and didn’t let me touch them. They were still there when we left in the morning. We drifted off to dreamland that night in disassembled bunk beds with fingerprint paintings dotting the wall beside us. I slept sound and sweet in the loveliness of it all.
My friend gave me the gift of real living. She let me into her honest, dusty life and it was full of grace and beauty. She didn’t once apologize for the imperfect state of things – she just went right on doing what she did and let me stand beside her and enjoy the hours as they passed. She didn’t let guilt or perfectionism ruin a wonderful time of fellowship, and she blessed me beyond measure with genuine hospitality.
I challenge you… I challenge myself… to let go of the perfectionism that creeps into an otherwise perfectly imperfect you, and let others see the nitty gritty.
Give your friends and loved ones a gift, too. Let them in. Bless them beyond perfection.