I step onto the newly mopped floor and my sock sticks. I hop like a crazed rabbit back to the carpet. Looking back at the tile, I tilt my head to one side. Little white patches are dotted across it. Hmm.
When my husband gets home I declare, “I think I bleached the floor!” He doesn’t look too surprised. Odder things have happened in this house.
We investigate together, down on our knees, like a pair of detectives in a bad movie. Finally he says, “I don’t think it’s bleached. I think there’s some kind of film on it.” He scratches at it with his thumbnail and a small flake of grey comes up, revealing white tile beneath.
It turns out our “shine and glow” cleaner has laid down a pretty thick coat of wax–along with trapping a fair amount of dirt.
I’m horrified. I vaguely wonder if my husband will be taken away from me because our home environment is unfit. So I haven’t been the mopper of the century but I certainly didn’t think we were walking across that.
We research how to strip the floor and my hubby tackles it one weekend. I can hardly look at the bucket. I perch outside the door in my pajamas and ponder how this came to be.
All this time I thought I was cleaning and I was actually sealing in what I wanted to get out.
It’s not the first time.
I used to be master of the layers.
A friend would asks me how I was on a bad day and I’d reply, “I’m fine.” Layer of wax, a little dirt trapped.
An email from someone I don’t even know would hurt my feelings. I’d tell myself, “It’s okay.” Another layer.
A disagreement would leave me wounded. I’d say, “It’s not really a big deal.” More layers.
Then a few years ago I noticed some dots on the floor of my heart, a little more authenticity showing through. I wanted to cover them up in a hurry. But it seemed God whispered instead, “This is what I want people to see. It’s time to strip away some of this stuff.”
And He did. Bit by bit.
At first I was horrified.
And, finally, free.
We aren’t meant to put on a coat of wax to shine for the world. God can handle our grit. Our mess. He knows how to deal with it in a way that brings healing and even reveals beauty.
In the corners of my kitchen, I can still see bits of wax. They peer out at me like little reminders of the past. Over time I’ll find a way to get them all.
Because I want the real deal–maybe not as shiny but clean and bright and cool beneath my feet.
A place I can stand tall.