I look through a Pikachu birthday banner, beyond the Christmas tree adorned with a smorgasbord of kid-crafted and delicate ornaments, and see the built-in entertainment center spanning from wall to wall of our living room. It’s still unfinished. There’s shiplap barn doors to build, wreaths to buy, and chalk-paint to cover the full lower half.
The walls in this room declare loudly that a “paint job,” as my newly five-year-old is apt to say, is long overdue. There are the footprints from kids fort-building with the couch, nails from the farmhouse collage that had been centered before the remodel, and a big patch of missing color behind the previous entertainment center we pulled off a different wall.
As you can surmise from the birthday décor, we celebrated my son’s birthday with some friends in this unfinished space.
It used to make me cringe to let others lay eyes on our less-than-perfect. I’d fret over carpet that looked stained even right after a steam cleaning, scratched linoleum, flat painted walls that tallied every time they were touched, and obviously under-furnished areas.
We lived four years in a small rental home before we moved to a fixer-upper with as much grime as potential. And I’m grateful for every humility pill I’ve had to swallow because they show me how shallow it is to think I can only welcome others into a home that looks pretty and put together.
It’s tempting to curate our homes and even our lives before we let others in. If you’ve ever cleaned with the speed of Sonic the few minutes before you expect company, you know what I’m talking about. Showing our mess, our real, our questions, and our unfinished feels vulnerable. Risky.
But there is a truth I’m learning to hold fast to because it reminds me that God can use me even in my unfinished state:
“God always makes his grace visible in Christ, who includes us as partners of his endless triumph. Through our yielded lives he spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of God everywhere we go” (2 Cor. 2:14 TPT, emphasis mine).
It’s through my yielding, not my perfecting, that He is made perfect in me. He shines through my weakness, shines brightest where I don’t try to overshadow His glory.
He can use me in my unfinished state because He’s not finished with me yet. And when I let others see the work He is doing in me while it’s yet in progress, my life can have a greater ripple effect.
My dogged determination to show only my unflawed and finished is actually a hindrance to my being a love offering to the people all around me. It turns my gaze inward, and I care more about the impression I make than the people God asks me to care about, listen to, serve, do life with, and love well.
God can use me in the middle of cultivating my heart to more purely reflect Him. And friend, He can use you too. Unfinished, still-in-progress you.
About the Author:
Twyla Franz loves to help imperfectly ready people take baby steps into neighborhood missional living. Check out her devotional, Cultivating a Missional Life: A 30-Day Devotional to Gently Help You Open Your Heart, Home, and Life to Your Neighbors, which includes group discussion questions for a 5-week study. Think you have nothing to offer your neighbors? Take her free quiz, “What Kind of Neighbor Are You?” to learn what makes you uniquely invaluable to your neighborhood.
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