Today was the Christmas parade and I had to be in it. The high school band had to march, the colorguard had to twirl, I am the colorguard coach, I had to be there. Bummer. It's like being diabetic and having a best friend who owns a pastry shop. I didn't even want a taste... But I was going to have a heaping helping.
It just so happened that the parade line-up was two doors down from my house.
I love my little house. It was where we came after we lost everything, and I mean everything. The floor sags, it's too small for us now and there is always, ALWAYS something wrong with the bathroom. We've done some work on it, but it's over 100 years old and we can't afford to do the kind of work that needs to be done. I can't keep up with Kyser's randomness and I have randomness of my own, so it's always kind of messy. In short, the little house that I claim to love, I am actually embarrassed to invite people to. When I have people sit for Kyser I always find a reason to have Kyser go to their house, because I am embarrassed. It is very seldom that we have friends over for Kyser to play with, because I am embarrassed. We are messy, we don't have room for all of the crap we have accumulated and I can't keep up.
I'm not sure what I think that I deserve. Isn't that what embarrassment comes from? A lack of humility? I can remember being "embarrassed" by Kyser's fit throwing in stores a couple of times because I was afraid people would think I am a bad parent. Funny that, because last night, Kyser stayed up until almost midnight and ate squeezey cheese with me. In some books, that makes me a terrible parent... I'm not sure why I think I deserve any more than I have. For someone who should be so humble, I have a very high opinion of myself. I take care of what I have, I work hard, I'm a good person, right? Shouldn't I have a home that reflects that? Exactly what kind of house that would be, I can't tell you. I can only tell you that it is more than this...
When a co-worker of mine who was at the parade as well asked if he could use the bathroom at my house, I immediately began apologizing for my house. It's small, it's old, it's messy, I don't know if the bathroom is clean... I almost asked him if he wouldn't rather just go in the yard. I brought him over, apologizing the whole way, showed him to the bathroom, apologized for each room we went through, for the bathroom and apologized when he was done and we were walking out.
The parade started and ended. I came back to my house, relieved to be done. Suddenly the mess seemed homey, the smallness seemed cozy. And the word I was looking for was "hypocrite." I was judging myself with a lenience that I didn't deserve. Who am I to tell God what I deserve? God, I'm a good person. God, I work hard. God, I am so embarrassed of what You have already blessed me with that I don't let people come over to my house...
I only realized all of this after I went on my Finding Christmas quest today. It was after the parade and I needed a Diet Mt. Dew like nobody's business, so I went down to Casey's and I figured I'd kill two birds with one stone as I was already regretting my nighttime revelation/declaration. I went up to the counter and asked the lady if any of the people at the gas pump were paying cash. She looked at me like I was crazy. So then I explained. And as I started explaining the whole thing to her, I started crying... without even realizing it. She nodded her head and said if I would just wait a minute there would be an opportunity. I had just turned to go sit at the table when she said "Hey, pump one." I turned and looked out door. Nice car, nice coat, very "fixey" older lady on pump one. I was immediately disappointed. I wanted to help someone who NEEDED it. This woman looked like she lived in a nicer house than I did.
But then, didn't EVERYONE live in a nicer house than I did?
I nodded at the lady behind the counter, payed the $10.01 gas bill for the lady and left just as she was walking through the door.
Part of losing the Christmas spirit, it became obvious to me, was my tendency to judge others harshly and judge myself with lenience. Perhaps I have been so convinced that I deserve more, that I deserve better than what I have been blessed with, that I have adopted the belief that nothing I have is good enough for anyone. But I don't want that to be taken as a request for pity. This is an attitude of haughtiness and upper-handedness that I am talking about, that I possess. It is faux-inferiority. It is a lie.
I do this all of the time, and if you are reading this I have probably done it to you. Truth is, I don't deserve even a fraction of what I have. If I could replace all of my faux-inferiority with humility, I could humble myself and embrace the belief that every single thing that I have is a blessing that I should be grateful for instead of being embarrassed by the fact that it's not as roomy, as new, or as luxurious as what others may have.
And the service that I provided today, well, it may not have been what I expected it to be, but that's what you get when you live your life by a set of quantifiers, when you replace humility with an attitude of entitlement. Day one is done.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT MYSELF: I have an incredibly high opinion of myself in that I believe that I deserve better than what I am able to afford. That has become part of the problem in that I don't think what I have is good enough for me, so why would I feel like what I have to give is good enough for anyone else, but this is not done out of a spirit of humility or self pity. It is my faux-inferiority that I use to cover up my selfishness.
WHAT I LEARNED ABOUT GOD TODAY: He still cares enough about me to put me under some serious conviction.