There is a wonderful, quaint new neighborhood in our town. I love to take my walks through the tree canopied streets. The homes are precious, each having their own personality. The lawns are well manicured with fresh flowers in the beds and the pots. You will always find pumpkins, garland, bunnies or flags donning the porches in the appropriate seasons. I am quite certain each evening everyone comes to the cul-de-sac to greet each other with warm cookies and hugs. It’s that darling of a place.
It is an easy place to walk and window shop and feel as if you are in another world….a “happy place”. It is, however, an easy place to walk and grow discontent. One could begin to wonder if these homes have junk drawers. Does dust, piles of laundry or cross words exist in these picture book homes? Do they even have bugs and insects here? I found out quickly that there is at least one bug. And I was bit by it…the jealousy bug.
When you are bit by that bug…it can fester pretty quickly. And it isn’t pretty. This particular bug has a side effect that causes one to think unclearly and will skew any good vision of the soul. I began to let it spread in me as I walked and compared and assumed things that I couldn’t see. The perfect families in the perfect homes with the perfect yards were extremely real…in my mind. And in a quick moment, the thought of sipping tea on the front porch wasn’t so inviting. Until, out of the corner of my mind, something caught my eye … an alley.
Alleys are not common in our town…we are a ”garage in front or barn by the side” kind of city/country mix. It didn’t take me long to see what role an alley serves. The trash cans, the oil dripping car and sporting equipment all gather here. Just off the alley is the threshold where backpacks are drug, dirt is carried, happy and sad days all enter. In our home, the garage is the ultimate junk drawer. And it is right out in front. Whoever designed alleys should win an award…the garage and all its messiness in the back! Brilliant!
In a moment, my pace quickened, my soul sighed of relief as my mind started to relax while I reconciled that the families in these homes are indeed real. And then…as quick at that jealousy bug bit…my “lesson of materialism” turned into something deeper. (dadgumit)
We are a lot like these houses. Our culture begs of us to be perfect on the outside…well groomed, donning the perfect seasonal best. The pressure is crazy for our children and families to be well rounded and yet calm and serene. It’s not wrong to take care of ourselves, our home and our families. In fact, Jesus asks us to take great care of all of those things. But, if no one ever sees our “alley”…if they never see where life really happens, then they will never feel comfortable to sit on the porch and sip tea.
It is good…so very good…when we let our guard down to show and share the “real” in our lives.
Our deepest, healthiest, life giving relationships are those that we welcome in through the alley.
When we allow people to see the imperfect side of our life, the messy room in our home, the things we are allowing God to work on and change in us…it is good. I know from experience, there is a freedom in that kind of rich relationship.
Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.
Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in your brother’s way.
Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
* this post was first published at tbarmcamps.org