Do you remember the Beauty and the Beast scene where Belle is told by The Beast not to enter the West Wing? “It’s forbidden!” he says, fiercely. Well, I had houseguests a few week ago, guests I’ve been begging to visit me for more than five years now. But somehow, even with lots of notice and a burning to desire to make everything inviting, I somehow had not gotten around to cleaning my room. I spoke as viciously as I could: “It’s forbidden.” I had piled papers and laundry in my bedroom to create the illusion in other places of organized simplicity. Well, kind of. I also had to forbid the laundry room. And I had to explain away the absurdly overbooked shelves. But most of the house was quite presentable.
Since these guests of mine are dearly loved and I knew my disaster area would not actually impact our relationship, I did let them see my room before they left, embarrassing as that was for me. After all, healthy relationships do require being our real selves. My real self is not a great housekeeper, and we’ve never had success with cleaning services. My husband is OCD about his stuff, not because he appears to be impeccably organized, but because in reality he has a precise routine and knows exactly where everything is at all times. I’ve never been able to convince any cleaning service how much I truly mean, “Do not touch this area.” I also equate a good cleaning with perfect floors. Every single time I find stuff on the floor that is missed. So, we’ve tried many times, but having our house cleaned is just not something that works for us. You might think after twenty-five years this means I’ve become an expert cleaner. Nope. Instead I go with “It’s forbidden.”
Of course if you don’t love someone warts and all, then that’s not really love. True love requires acknowledgement of truth and the truth is everyone is heavily warted. Hiding faults only exacerbates the imposter syndrome we all have to one degree or another. Where in your life are you fearful of being exposed as a fraud? Even if you start with a thing as shallow as revealing your domestic disorganization, I encourage you to be real with your friends. Don’t you want to be loved for who you are and not who you aim to project?
On Tuesday I listened to this excellent sermon on friendship. It’s based on Mark 2:1-12, which is the familiar story of the paralyzed man being lowered through the roof by his friends to Jesus. It’s such a beautiful picture of friendship.
One time a girlfriend and I taught that passage to three-year-olds. We built a cardboard house with a flat roof and used playmobil toy people to act out the man being lowered down. It cemented in my mind the loving effort of these good friends, but this sermon drives home the point even better.
The pinnacle of friendship is bringing your friends to Jesus. It almost certainly will not look like a hole in a flat roof, but in what ways are you bringing your friends to Him? How can you acknowledge and thank your friends who have done so for you?
2 Corinthians 2:15a says, “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved…”
May our aromas be sweet and pure like gardenias, ever drawing others to Christ.