A friend came over the other day and while she was at my house, she used the bathroom. Later, I mentioned that a book I’m reading about cleaning and organizing was making me feel lousy about my own less-than-stellar housekeeping.
I was completely shocked when she replied, “Well, every time I come to your house, your bathroom is spotless. How about not cleaning it once in a while, so I don’t feel so bad about my house?”
What? That’s crazy. I awkwardly shrugged off the comment, admitting that I had cleaned a little bit earlier in the day, but it was no big deal.
Later that night I walked into the bathroom and I had to chuckle. When I looked into that tiny room, I saw cat hair on the baseboards, an empty toilet paper roll sitting on the counter, a stray ponytail holder sitting on the sink and more water spots and toothpaste splatters than I could count.
That’s when it hit me: We see what we want to see.
A few years ago I realized that my good friend and co-worker had a bad habit of refusing to accept compliments. If I said, “Hey, your hair looks cute!” she’d reply with an exaggerated rebuff: “Seriously? I haven’t washed it in four days!” Or if I mentioned that I liked her shirt, she’d assure me that she’d had it since college and got it on the clearance rack, to boot.
My friend is smart, funny and beautiful, but she was choosing to see something else entirely.
What do you see when you look in the mirror?
Do you see a woman who works hard and loves harder? Do you see eyes full of wisdom and compassion, arms that carry groceries and fingers that write out letters and posts and songs? Do you see someone created and blessed and gifted and loved by God?
Or do you see gray hairs winning the battle against time and color from a box? Do you see running mascara and lipstick sunk into the creases of a mouth that hasn’t smiled since last week? Do you see tired eyes, flabby arms, knobby knees?
Me? I see a face that has sweated off any traces of makeup and eyes that say, “Go to bed. It’s late.”
But I also know that face sweated while changing yet another load of laundry so her husband would have a clean uniform to wear tomorrow, while hurrying her daughter into the bath after a backyard accident on a starting-to-feel-like-spring day, and while
flailing around kicking and punching through a workout she didn’t feel like doing but did anyway.
Okay, maybe I see the spots of toothpaste and dust particles that never seem to be absent from my bathroom mirror, too.
But I have a choice. I can choose what I see when I look at myself, at my life. I can see all the bad things, the ugly parts – or I can see the beauty and the goodness. So tonight, I’m going to see what I want to see. And while I may never manage to see a “spotless” bathroom that my friend saw, I see a room that’s clean enough and serves its purpose. And a woman who’s good enough and today, served her purpose, too.
The LORD does not look at the things people look at.
People look at the outward appearance,
but the LORD looks at the heart.
(1 Samuel 16:7b)
What do you see when you look around your home? What do you see when you look at your life? What do you see when you look in the mirror? Do you see what you want to see?