Nine years ago we moved into our second home, and Rob’s parents gave us a kitchen table for our house-warming gift. It was our first real adult piece of furniture, from a real live furniture store that did not include Pier One. We’d spent the first few years of marriage poor as dirt, and the first few years of parenting avoiding expensive furniture or decor, because we had little kids who ruin such things.
We got married young and everything we owned was a hand me down. This table was so grown up. At the time we moved into that house, Jake was 3 and Josh was about 8 months old, and now we had a big beautiful kitchen table for our kids to grow up with. We’d spend Saturdays here eating pancakes and bacon(because anyone who knows me and knows me well knows that my entire world is made better by bacon) and kids would hide under the table making forts and with puppies on blankets. It was home.
We had no idea the hit it would take once Lila came along ha!! It now sits in our newer kitchen, in this house, next to Lila’s art cart, which is extremely appropriate given the wear and tear and love this table has endured under Lila’s artistic hands.
The glitter and paint and heat stains and nicks in the wood all tell a story. It’s funny really, because to me, this table represents our life with little kids, even though Lila is still only 5. She’s still the messy one, but now she has an actual cart for all her mess making things instead of stashing them on the kitchen chair, thanks to Mimi.
The table is like a big painting of the past 10 years. Now our kids are growing up and it seems like we should be hanging pretty curtains and buying nice pillows (ahem, like not from Wal-Mart, because with chubby chocolate or cheeto fingers running around, who wants expensive pillows?) or buying nicer furniture that won’t get destroyed by those messy but chubby little fingers. And yet, the table still sits in my kitchen, extremely well-loved and unpolished, muddled with all of its glorious imperfections.
And I can’t bring myself to replace it.
We live in this culture of perfection. We cover our flaws with surgery and injections and products and Snapchat filters(um. guilty) and pretty pictures on Instagram(and I’m not judging these things, just saying, it’s what we do), but what about the story that the imperfections tell? Our table tells a story. A story of kids and Christmases and birthdays and cakes and coffee. Of studying and work and reading. Of Saturday morning pancakes and puppies hiding under it’s legs. All of our worn in things tell a story.
The stretch marks that tell the stories of our pregnancies or the laugh lines from a life well lived. The cellulite that comes from a genetic legacy of strong women or the extra skin under your arm from a weight loss journey that changed your life. A kid on ADD meds or the little independent girl that will not wear anything that matches. What about those things? Why are we so afraid of our imperfections, as if we shouldn’t have any? We are human after all, and we are all imperfect. And I for one am tired of pretending.
I often buy into this concept of concealing. Hiding. Covering up. Looking better, thinner, or more awake(because for real, who doesn’t want less bags under their eyes??) ha! Other times I get shaken awake and could care less. I just want to shout to women everywhere to stop pretending. Stop trying to be, dress, look, act, and appear perfect. Because no one is. No one can relate to that. We relate best in the struggle, I think. The daily grind of motherhood or careers or marriage or dating or college days or wherever you may find yourself, because we can all relate to the real and the unseen. To the messy.
I want to take the time to stop and appreciate the scrapes and the blotches of my life, because they all tell a story of grace. They all speak to the things God has done, to the life of our kids and our family. To the struggles that make us who we are. To the hardest of places and to the very best moments. They all tell a beautiful story.
The green paint on my table may keep my kitchen from being in any fancy home photo shoots, but it means something to us. It’s Lila. So entirely our Lila. And although the messy is at times infuriating, it’s also who she is. It’s sort of who we are. Real people with real messy tables. And I don’t want to rush into the fancy Pottery Barn pillow stage of life, because that just means there is no one around to leave a mark on these lovely and worn out things.
In accepting our imperfections, we slow down. We strive less to be something we’re not, and settle right into who we are. We accept our gifts and our downfalls, and we connect with other’s through the acknowledgement that we are all just a hell of a hot mess.
She will kill me one day for this, but this is our life today. At home with fever’s and a mom recovering from surgery and a brother upstairs sick to his stomach. Bed head, no brushed teeth, tissues everywhere, a muddy white(and blue thanks to a recent marker debacle) dog, too much coffee and Emergen C , and me, sitting here wallowing in self pity that I’m again stuck at home, unable to workout or grocery shop or have a “normal ” day and oh my goodness my nose just won’t stop running. When really, there is so much in this scenario to be thankful for, and when we take the time to accept our realities and our flaws, our messy days, we become so much more grateful for where we are. I mean, I have Thin Mints in my freezer for crying out loud, life is good.
“When we lay the soil of our hard lives open to the rain of grace and let joy penetrate our cracked and dry places, let joy soak into our broken skin and deep crevices, life grows. How can this not be the best thing for the world? For us? ” Ann Voskamp
So dive deep today friends. Dive deep into your imperfections and don’t be afraid to show them. Reveal some transparency to the world around you(I am not saying you need to air your dirty laundry every day……no, but don’t be afraid of authentic living) and watch and see how God uses it to connect you to someone who needs it. It can become a breath of fresh air, this knowing you aren’t alone. Knowing that your kitchen table might look just like mine, and choosing to embrace it instead of replacing it. Love the paint and the scratches and the glitter stains knowing that they tell a story of little hands and lots of grace and a life in process, with all it’s imperfections and stains. A life filled with grace and blessing and joy. And a very blue dog.