I ran up over the curb as I pulled my car into the playground parking lot on Friday afternoon. The momentum of the car hitting the curb caused all my kidsí heads to jerk forward simultaneously, but they werenít fazed. It was just another day in the mini van with mom. Before we were completely stopped my older kids had hopped out and were running to join their friends on the swings. This was our Friday ritual. After a week of strenuous school work, we met friends and played for a couple of hours.
As I watched them run, I sat in my car for a moment to ponder my bleak situation. For years I had kept a deep, dark secret bottled up inside; but today, I was going to reveal it to my friends. I was fearful of what they would think about me after my confession. However, I was tired of living a charade.
I slid open the mini van door and kneeled on the floor to unstrap my baby. Something red and wet, most likely spilled fruit punch, saturated my khaki capris. I slung the unzipped diaper bag over my shoulder and lifted my baby out of his car seat. I headed to the picnic table where my friends sat, leaving a trail of diapers behind me.
"Hey, girl," Cindy called as she sipped her Route 44 Sonic Dr. Pepper. She was an addict and depending on which day you talked to her she may or may not be trying to "kick" the habit.
Beth waved a hand at me while she finished up a conversation on her fancy new cell phone. I would have to admire her phone in a minute, because I was currently in the market for a new one. I ran over mine with the car last week. It would be the third I had destroyed in as many months.
Beth ended the call and began typing something into her phone. "Sorry, I was confirming my Tuesday hair appointment." Beth is very organized. Beth and Cindy began chatting as normal, discussing marriage, money, diets and recipes. They finally noticed I wasnít my usual, chatty self.
"Youíre quiet today. Whatís wrong?" I knew it was time to come clean, but I feared what I was about to share would jeopardize our friendship.
I shifted uncomfortably and realized I had sat in bubble gum. I grabbed a baby wipe and started rubbing the spot on the seat of my pants as I began my deep confession. "Iím a mess," I finally stated with a deep sigh.
Beth and Cindy exchanged a confused glance. "We know," Cindy said hesitantly.
"What do you mean Ďyou knowí?" I asked, shocked at their lack of surprise.
"We know youíre a mess," Beth answered.
"Iím not making a joke here. I may appear to have it all together, but the truth is Iím a domestic disaster. My floors are sticky. I donít know how to cook. This morning, I actually stapled my daughterís unraveled hem with a stapler as she walked out the door for school."
Cindy suppressed a grin. "You didnít?" she said in mock shock. "Beth, can you believe she did that? Should we move to another table? Can we be seen with her?"
"Iím not kidding, guys. Iím a failure."
After a brief pause, Cindy spoke first. This time she was serious. "Your house is probably a mess because you spend so much time calling and encouraging people at church, especially the young moms. Youíve never met a stranger."
It was Bethís turn. "Or you were writing. Neither one of us could write a story."
"My house is clean, but I donít make friends easily," Cindy said, frowning into her empty Sonic cup.
"And I may be more organized, but I donít have a creative bone in my body."
"Your gifts are in other areas, but we love you the same -- messy house and all." We spent the next two hours discussing our individual weaknesses and strengths.
As I drove away from the park, with my windows down to air out the musty smell, I felt better about myself than I had in years. My friends knew my weaknesses and liked me anyway. They also reminded me that God had given me unique gifts that I needed to use for Him. As soon as I got home, I was going to write all this down in a story....if I could find my laptop.
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