If I am dust, no wonder it is all over my floor


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It seems like there are always little bits of cheddar bunny or pieces of apple peel ground into the carpets in our house.

Clean laundry erupts out of the basket (with the help of hurricane Cadence)…and is smooshed against the banana that was left in the corner of the kitchen floor.

Shoes are kicked off in every direction.

Boxed macaroni and cheese (albeit organic…if it even counts at that point) is lunch or dinner – and sometimes both – at least once a week.

Neighborhood children pluck flowers out of our beds and trample our tomato plants.

This is not at all how I envisioned life.

Messy.  Noisy.  Gross.

The work never seems to end.

A sick and yet beautiful balancing act:

I am generally optimistic, so when thinking about my family, my home, my work, I always dreamed of perfect.  (whether or not I would have admitted it)

Beautiful, creative, Apartment Therapy-worthy, home.  With just the right blend of Pottery Barn and Anthropologie.  Clean, bright floors.  The smell of freshly ground coffee and warm yeasty bread wafting from the kitchen while lemon zest, rosemary and mint subtly hint around the main living space.

A doting child and loving husband.  Always well dressed and clean, never sweaty or smelly or smeared with dirt.

A perfect me.  Patient, gracious, always happy and smiling.  Never given over to frustration or disappointment or worry or fear that I am not enough.  Toned and svelt.  Well dressed, with good hair, bright eyes and painted lips.

We’re programmed, aren’t we?  At every turn.  Advertisements.  Commercials.  Magazine covers. Google ads.   To long for perfect.  To expect perfect.

To deem ourselves failures when what we accomplish is not perfect.

If I am honest, I would prefer to live an authentic life than a perfect life, though my actions and values would frequently attest to the opposite.

I would rather be known and loved for who I am than for the image I maintain, but I still insist on keeping up appearances quite often.

I would rather people feel welcomed and at ease – even in the mess I call home – than live isolated in a home fresh out of a Pottery Barn catalog.  But I still fret over dust on the bookshelves, mail stacked embarrassingly high on the counter and cheerios (which my child seems to shed) ground finely into powder all over the floor.

“Humility is the opposite of perfectionism.  It gives up unrealistic expectations of how things ought to be for a clear vision of what human life is really like.”

writes Roberta Bondi.

“It gives up unrealistic expectations of how things ought to be…”

Pottery Barn
Martha Stewart
The entire reality that is Pintrest
Sleek hair
Toned arms
Sexy abs
Children who don’t shed cheerios or throw tantrums
Drop-dead gorgeous spouses who meet our every whim and desire

“…for a clear vision of what human life is really like.”

and life

is

messy.

Relationships take work.
Children throw fits.
Spouses argue.
Cheddar bunnies get ground into your carpets.

This is real life.

I would rather be real than a puffed-up vision of perfection, hollow as the womans cheeks whom I would emulate.

But do I really live this way?

If real is enough, if real is the desire

then why the self hatred?

why the self defeat?

“I don’t write enough…”
“This house…AAAAUUUGHHH!  Such a mess!”
“I really wish I could drop ten pounds…”
“Ugh. I can’t wear that, have you seen my arms!?”
“I just wish my child would LISTEN!”
“Could my husband just ONCE ….”

I often think that we are our own worst enemies.  I know this is true for me.

Oh that we would let go of the pride that binds us to illusions of perfection
that we would embrace the humility that would give us life wholeheartedly.

That we would learn to see ourselves as humus 

earth.

dust.

“The earth God made and called good; the earth from which…God fashioned us.
Humility is the fundamental recognition that that we each draw our life and breath from the same source, the God who made us and calls us beloved.

Humility not only prevents us from seeing ourselves as more deserving or graced or better than another; it compels us to recognize that we are no less deserving or graced than another”

We are all just dust infused with the breath of the Divine.
With this in mind, it is no wonder there is dirt on our floors.
(and surely, there is dirt on all our floors)

So when will it stop?

This lie that we believe

That someone elses home is nicer

their floors and windows and bookshelves are cleaner

their children are sweeter

their spouse is more loving

their abs are tighter

their clothes fit better

and their pores are more refined.

When do we stop and say

“I am humus, and so are you.  Equally deserving, and equally dust.”

“Humility is the opposite of perfectionism.  It gives up unrealistic expectations of how things ought to be for a clear vision of what human life is really like.  In turn, this enables its possessors to see and thus love the people they deeply desire to love.”

All quotations from In the Sanctuary of Women by Jan L. Richardson.

Photo Credit: Maria Helena Carey

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6 thoughts on “If I am dust, no wonder it is all over my floor

  1. So universal — our common struggle with perfectionism. I resonated with many of your examples — abs, arms, Pottery Barn home. To that I would add my perfectionism in entertaining. Why must I feel the need to go all out on my dinner parties? Perfectly clean house, table, centerpiece, food. The result of obsession is that my friends are reluctant to reciprocate. Martha doesn’t warns of that little downfall.

    A favorite memory of mine was watching Martha and Julia Child standing side-by-side while each constructed a Crockenbush cake. Martha builds her perfectly symmetrical towering cake while Julia flings messy strands of toffee on her lumpy, lopsided tree. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the comparison, and admire the fun Julia was having.

    Lord, the next time I’m tempted to go overboard, help me to remember that image and from whom I would rather receive a dinner invitation – Martha or Julia.

    Thanks for an awesome post.

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