Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Hiding My Dirty Dishes

It was a Sunday evening. The dirty dishes were piled high in and around the kitchen sink. I’m a gal who likes to keep a clean house, but I tend to relax things a bit on the day of rest. A girl needs a day off, don’t ya think?!  :)

Wouldn’t you know it, some friends decided to stop in for a visit. Hear me out here, I enjoy having friends stop in - I was just a bit embarrassed about the heaping mound of dishes awaiting them right there in plain sight.

My husband said, “Someone's pulling into the driveway.” As silly as it sounds, I rushed to the sink…and hid half (or more) of the dirty dishes in the nearby laundry area. I guess I wasn’t embarrassed that half of them remained. Things looked a bit more “presentable.”

We visited with our friends. The conversation was good and I was thankful they stopped in. Then, it happened, somehow the conversation shifted. My friend commented on how clean my house was. She even mentioned the lack of dirty dishes, noting that I didn’t have a dishwasher (seriously, she did!). She confessed that she can’t always keep up on things the way she wants to. Instantly, I felt like a fake. I felt the Holy Spirit prompting me to be honest. I decided to confess.

With a little giggle I opened up the laundry area doors and showed her my dirty dishes piled on top of the washer and dryer. She smiled and extended some gracious words. We then talked about how hard it can be to keep with life and household.

Later, I laughed at myself as I thought about that evening. I like to think that I’m a pretty “real” and transparent person. Yet, I tried to hide my dirty dishes…or at least half of them. Why did I do that? Did I think my friend would have a less favorable opinion of me if she saw my mess? Was it pride? I suppose it was a desire to look good, to appear well kept and orderly.

Yet, the dirty dishes were still there all along. Hidden or not, I still had to deal with them later. How nice to know I’m not alone in my housekeeping woes!

This all reminded me of how often I want to hide the “dirty dishes” of my life - past sins and current struggles. It’s easier to hide these things away. Why do I do that? Maybe I think others will think less of me if they knew my whole story (I’ll just share half of my mess). Maybe my pride wants to overlook my shaky past and current failures. I suppose it is a desire to look good, to appear well kept and in control as all “good Christian girls” should.

Yet, the “dirty dishes” are still there. Hidden or not, I still have to deal with them at some point. How much nicer would it be to know I’m not alone on this journey and to help a sister know she’s not alone either?!

You see, I think we Christian women all too often fall into what I call “poser mode”. Casting Crowns’ Mark Hall calls it, “Happy Plastic People…with walls around our weakness and smiles to hide our pain.”

It occurred to me after our visit that once I was honest with my friend about my dirty dishes, she felt free to share her dirty dishes struggles with me. Not only that, she had been looking for my mess and, as most women tend to do, she was comparing it to hers. I’m glad I was honest because she may have went away feeling bad about her own housekeeping skills, thinking I had it all together and wondering why she couldn’t do that same. That might sound silly, but we women are like that.

Ah, that’s how it is when we share the “dirty dishes” of our lives with others. There’s so much power in a testimony. As we share our story, it frees others to share theirs. As we transparently share our struggles, it often frees others to “come clean” as well - or at least see common threads that bind us together and gives us hope for the future. It’s so good to know we’re not alone in our struggles.

No one wants to meet a “Happy Plastic” Christian - someone unrelatable and perfectly put together. It’s time to get real - and share our history (and present) with others. There’s power in revealing those “dirty dishes” for a purpose.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think we should walk around airing our “dirty dishes” to everyone in sight. But, I do believe that being honest with God and others is freeing for us and influential on others.

I like this quote, “The only basis of real fellowship with God and man is to live out in the open with both.”
~ Roy Hession

Would you please pray for me as I’ll be sharing some of my “dirty dishes” for God's glory at our next MOPS meeting? I’ll be sharing my story with this group of dear friends on April 12th. Thanks so much!

Therefore, having put away falsehood,
let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor;
for we are members one of another.
Ephesians 4:25


  1. I loved this!! Just last night, I had two college students out to my house to do some service learning projects for Mommies with Hope. I was running late and knew the house was a mess. I was tempted to try to scramble and throw the dishes in the oven (yes...the oven), but I left the sink full and apologized when they came. They didn't even care...they were so thankful to have a "home-cooked meal" (I threw together a pot of chili). Seriously...why do we do this to ourselves?? I am being stretched in this area and you are right..it is freeing! Thank you for sharing, Rachel!


  2. I think we've all done this or something very similar!!!! I love that you turn these every day things into life lessons. My step Mom-in-Law who ALWAYS seemed to have everything perfect at her house did a similar thing for me several years before she died. She told me that she had many times stuffed dishes into the oven to hide them when people came over. That made me feel so much better!!!

    Thanks for your words of wisdom, Rachel! :)

  3. Great post Rachel!! I can so relate! I'm embarrassed to even think about all the times I would have liked to hide the dishes, laundry, piles, toys, mess...and how that worry of what others will think just distracts me from what really is important. Like you say it's important to be real - it helps us and the one we are interacting with!! Praying for God to guide you and use you at the MOPS meeting!! I know He will; I'm looking forward to it and hope you are too!

  4. Oh Rachel, this story is fantastic. I'm so glad you felt free enough (and confident enough) to march your friend over and show her your dirty dishes hiding in the laundry room!

    I used to compulsively clean my house every single day. But oh, I've grown a wee bit...that and perhaps it's my age, as well, but now that I'm 49 (ahem!) I honestly don't care any more about how the house looks. I LIKE a clean house, I PREFER a clean house, but if someone drops by, I literally don't even care if my house is "a mess".

    Kudos to you for being brave, and honest!


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