Years ago, I joined a women’s Bible study at our church. Every year the women got together at someone’s house for an old-fashioned slumber party. Being new to the group, I was eager to get involved and even more eager to impress them all with my entertaining skills. There would be about twenty women at the sleepover, so every corner of the house would be used, and every room would be slept in. I had to clean, clean, clean and make everything PERFECT. Because what would they think of me if my house wasn’t perfect and the food wasn’t perfect, and, well you get the point.
After weeks of preparation, the day of the event arrived. The women came, we ate, we laughed, we had our Bible study. We shared each other’s stories and had a few beautiful God-moments.
It was the middle of the night, and everyone was tucked into their assigned rooms. Asleep. Some were in beds; some were on the floor. I woke up to a sound like sccrriiitcccch… sccrrreeeetch…patterpatterpatter.
Oh dear God no.
That was the sound of a mouse scurrying around if I ever heard one. But it was in my room and I was the only one in there. I could tell it was running along the walls around the edge of the room. I leapt out of bed, flipped on the light and shut my door. If I could contain the little rat in here – I could find it, take care of it and no one would ever know.
Just as I shut the door, he flashed past my foot and under the door. NOOOO! I would die if any of these women woke up to a mouse in their face. Imagine the embarrassment… the humiliation…if all these women were startled awake to find out that my house wasn’t perfect.
That I wasn’t perfect.
He ran along the edge of the wall down the hallway. He had two choices – the linen closet, or the bedroom where four women lay peacefully sleeping on the floor. One of those women was, well I don’t want to say her name, she was a very lovely lady. You know the ONE woman you know, who seemingly does everything right, and her kids are always clean and their lunches always have all four food groups in them, and she’s on every committee and at every meeting and always brings homemade brownies to everything and a casserole over when you’re sick? Well it was HER.
Sleeping on the floor.
The only thing separating her beautiful soul and this dang mouse was a closed door with a mouse-high gap at the bottom.
The mouse ran down the hall, turned the corner, and along the closed bedroom door at the end of the hall. Then under the door of the linen closet. OK. So he didn’t go into the bedroom, thank God.
I opened the closet door. Then took out some towels and stuffed them under the bedroom door so he couldn’t try to sneak under there. I carefully emptied the contents that were on the floor of the linen closet into the hallway. A comforter, no mouse. Pillows, no mouse. A blanket, no mouse. There was still a box toward the back on the floor. The stupid mouse must be hiding behind the box. With all my might, I shoved the box against the back of the wall and heard a CRUNCH.
Got him. I pushed it harder and held it tight against the wall for a few minutes.
I found a plastic bag, scooped up the squished remains, quietly put everything back, and snuck outside to hide the evidence in the trash can.
That morning we had French toast, homemade blueberry muffins and freshly squeezed orange juice. Everything was perfect. Everyone went on their way, and no one ever knew.
What is sad to me now, is that even though that night was supposed to be about sharing and being real with each other, I couldn’t do it. Not completely. I had to keep up the illusion of perfection. Just like the woman on the other side of the door.
From time to time I think about that night. What if the mouse had gone into the bedroom? What if it had woken HER up? Maybe we would have had a good laugh. Maybe I would have opened up about my insecurities. Maybe I would have found out that she was completely exhausted, hated casseroles, hated packing lunches, and felt inadequate as a mom. Maybe we both would have found relief from our unrealistic expectations. Maybe we would have been become friends.
Most of us have walls that we surround ourselves with. Something that keeps us from being fully known. It might be a messy house that’s an excuse to not have friends over. It might be a rude, cold demeanor that prevents people from getting close. It might be jokes and laughter that really just keep the conversation from going too deep. I don’t know what your walls are, but I do know that sooner or later whatever it is you’re hiding all starts to come through the cracks.
You might as well open the door and let us get to know the real you. Maybe you’ll find freedom and relief from not having to hide anymore. Maybe you’ll find community. Maybe you’ll make a new friend. Maybe the world will be better for it.