Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Magnified and Scrutinized

Something weird happens whenever my grown kids visit. It’s taken me years to pinpoint the short-circuiting in my brain, so bear with me while I attempt to articulate this discovery. Even if you have no adult children, you might experience this with other visitors from the U.S. I know do.

Normally I live my life in a state of acceptance of things-as-they-are. Not everything about my marriage, family, and home is ideal—not by a long shot; but I somehow arrive at a position where I simply overlook the bad and focus on the good. It’s called survival. Or like the motto in my mom’s kitchen that sums it up in another word: “whatever!”
Then these adults-I-used-to-call-children come home, or in the old days, my dmil would come to visit. Suddenly every flaw becomes magnified. It’s not that these people are necessarily criticizing (sometimes they do), but something in my head shifts gears, and like the emperor in the fairy tale who suddenly realizes he is wearing no clothes, all of a sudden I feel ashamed of myself, the people closest to me, and most of all, my (can I say crappy on a Christian blog?) house.
This has been going on for years, but it wasn’t until I was talking to a friend who experienced the same phenomenon this Christmas that I began to see the pattern. Love overlooks a multitude of sins. Peace in the home for the long haul requires large doses of selective blindness, don’t you think?
It’s not until others are watching that it starts to bug me.
Why do I put up with this? Why have we never painted that? Why, oh why can we not fix that crazy drawer that has never opened properly? Why have we allowed this child to get away with such-and-such a habit? Why does my dh… Nope, I’m not going there. Worst of all, why do I always….
You get my drift.
Again, it’s not that our visitors necessarily say anything about anyone or anything. Just seeing things through a different lens is what I don’t like. Our marriage, family, and home are fine most of the time, as long as no one is looking too closely. I guess that’s why having guests can be so stressful. Suddenly all our oddities, imperfections, and interactions are under scrutiny.
After a month of having dd here, and two weeks with ds and ddil, we are settling back into life-as-it-was. I want to make some changes so that we don’t settle for mediocrity when we should be striving to be the kind of people and have the kind of home that can be scrutinized and found godly in most respects.
This week I splurged on four new pillows to replace the ratty ones I subjected my adult children to over the holidays, hoping that will help future guests overlook all the other quirky things about my home and family. Next we need new mattresses, some better sheets that don’t come from K-mart, and towels that aren’t all shredding and sun-rotted. And then…. Where does this all end?
IRL* Praying for grace to accept what cannot be changed (others), and strength to change what I can change (myself), also patience to accept what I cannot afford to change, and finances to pay for what needs to be changed.


  1. I hear you! We're having weekend houseguests, and I'm hoping they'll overlook:

    1. A mattress/bed sitting on the floor in our office because the bed broke irreparably last month.

    2. A shower that leaks water all over the bathroom floor...(We were going to have it repaired last fall, but the washing machine retired, so a new one had to come first!)

  2. Notice I didn't even mention anything having to do with plumbing. Some things just can't be hidden or overlooked.

    Enjoy the visit, Olive. It's about people, not things. (Easy for me to say now!)

  3. I have to tell you I just splurged on four pillows too! That was a great idea! :-)

  4. Oh, oh, oh! This describes me to a T! I can deal with so much during the normal times with no guests but dealing with the little things we just don't take time or don't have the funds to fix when guests are around is rough.

    Maybe I should go for some pillows, too! And some new hand towels and a can of paint and and and! :)


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