Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Better on Paper

There’s this family who lives in my neighborhood.

The husband has a good job and the mom stays home.  Their two kids are well-behaved, do well in school, and are well-rounded – they play instruments, various sports, are involved in several extra-curricular activities.  The family goes on regular vacations.  They are involved in their church, have extended families who visit often, lots of friends.  They always keep their yard mowed.  The inside of their house is organized and clean.  The husband and wife drive decent cars.  They exercise regularly, enjoy each other as a family, and the parents go on date nights.  Anyone would say that these people love each other, and that they live in a loving, stable home.

This is my family, and we look darn good on paper.

In reality, my husband works long hours and travels more than either one of us would like.  I stay home and have had more than one day where I contemplate the insufferable boredom of housewifery and dream of escaping this life for a more glamorous one.  My kids fight with each other.  A lot.  They take instrument lessons, but they must be yelled at and/or bribed to practice.  Same for doing their homework.  And sports.  We take the same vacations every year because my parents invite us.  I stress out a little too much – okay, a lot too much – when friends and family come to visit.   We’ve skipped church the past few Sundays for no other reason than because we didn't feel like going.  My husband walks around the house for hours on Saturdays and talks about how he is going to mow the yard and it drives me nuts.  Most times he asks our son to do it.  If I have to stick my hand down another one toilet to clean or push the vacuum around one more time I might lose my mind.  I hate to exercise, but I hate how terrible I feel when I don’t.  On any given day our house is filled with the sounds of crying, yelling, blaring TVs, sarcastic remarks, and the silent treatment.  We all love each other, except for the times when we don’t. 

We may look good on paper, but we are not perfect.

Sometimes I wonder how this life came to be.  How did things get out of hand in this situation?  How did we make such a big mistake here?  Why did we decide to do this?  My mind fills with questions that only have one answer:  Because we are human.  Not perfect.

Every night I pray that I would live the life that God intends me to live, that I am doing exactly what he wants for me, that I am walking the path he laid out for me, that our family is on the right track.  I have no way of knowing if we are doing the right thing.  I have no idea of knowing for sure if God is smiling down on us, if he is pleased with us.

Jesus is the only perfect human who walked on this earth.  We have his example to follow.  It is hard; impossible for me to achieve in my time here.  Jesus is the only one who looks as good on paper as he does in real life. 

I have faith that someday I – and my family – will be like Jesus, will be as perfect in real life as on paper.  I trust that God, who promised us a life in heaven, his perfect home, will make us perfect as well.  Our humanness will be gone, our imperfections smoothed over.

But today, I have to settle for looking better on paper.

Look!  We even coordinate our outfits!

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  Jude 1:24 (NLT)


  1. Let's go with Benjamin Franklin on this one...

    Franklin believed (and wrote about it in his Autobiography) that through the execution of a very rational and well thought out plan (on paper, by the way), he could achieve moral perfection. It's all very logical and systematic...thirteen moral virtues, each to be focused on for a week. The first should, says Franklin, lead to the betterment of the second and so forth. After thirteen weeks, repeat. This can be accomplished four times in a year...the ultimate goal being the achievement of moral perfection.

    It failed.


    But Franklin reflected that while the endeavor may have been a technical failure, it was still a definite success as he ended up still imperfect, but managed to become better in all of those areas than when he first began. He also said that he learned to accept the imperfections and be satisfied with the knowledge that progress is still progress.

    Smart guy, that Franklin.

    1. Progress is still progress. I like that.

      Thanks for the wonderful comment - you always seem to give me something else to think about. :)